2019 at the lake saw its share of surprises, controversies and developments that made the year a stand out. From severe weather to project developments to grass-root campaigns, this is a look at the stories in 2019 that Lake Sun readers made the most popular and significant.

2019 at the lake saw its share of surprises, controversies and developments that made the year a stand out. From severe weather to project developments to grass-root campaigns, this is a look at the stories in 2019 that Lake Sun readers made the most popular and significant.

Note: These stories are in no particular order.

Tornados and violent storms shook Eldon and Jefferson City

In May, violent storms were seen throughout the lake area, though escalated in Eldon where a tornado would touch down and damage much of the city during the night. The following morning revealed trees uprooted, business signs destroyed, roofs tattered and many people cleaning up the mess. The efforts to clean up the city went on for many days, though the will of the residents was as strong as ever. Even heavier damage was seen in Jefferson City, where entire apartment fronts were destroyed and many residents were displaced for weeks. This storm represented the worst storm of the year and one that all lake patrons hope will not be repeated in 2020.

OTC seeks lake area approval to build campus in Camdenton

OTC announced their desire to build a campus in Camdenton midway through 2019. Camdenton R-III school board approved a resolution to place a ballot issue to allow the district to become part of the Ozarks Technical College (OTC) service area. As part of the service area, patrons in R-III would consider a levy for OTC of 20 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Though the major significance of this decision will be mostly seen in 2020, the ramifications of the decision could be an affect on other schools in the area, including State Fair. All things considered, this could be the start of a big change coming to Camdenton next year.

Voters reject lodging tax to build multi-field soccer complex

Voters in Camden, Miller and Morgan counties overwhelmingly defeated a proposed increase in the lodging tax to fund a $20 million-plus soccer destination venue for Lake of the Ozarks. Voters in the three counties that make up the Lake of the Ozarks area rejected the proposal by a vote of 4,682 against to 1,610 in favor of the tax. Had it been approved, the lodging tax in all 3 counties would have gone up to 6 percent to pay for the complex that would have been managed by the city of Osage Beach. Supporters said the complex would extend the summer season, bringing in families and teams to soccer play in soccer tournaments in the spring and fall, generating sales and lodging taxes for the 3 lake area counties. Opponents said the complex would not benefit the entire area and would not generate the revenue supporters aid it would.

Mother Nature took her toll on the lake area

There was no shortage of strange and troubling weather related incidents around the lake this year. In March, an unprecedented amount of spring rain saw lake levels rise to extreme levels. This causes the Bagnell Dam and Truman Dam spill gates to be open for extended amounts of time. Eldon and Jefferson City saw their share of disaster due to May tornadoes (detailed in a previous entry). December winter saw schools closed for multiple days in December, with the road causing trouble for all lake drivers. This even extended into building damage, seen at the Windgate Condos after a truck was knocked off a ramp and onto the porch of the condo area. To round it out, in a freak accident, a portion of Highway 54 rockwall collapsed onto the road as many geologists believe a weak seam of clay deep within was destroyed by heavy moisture melting into the rock. Overall, the lake was tattered and broken at point, but through it all, persevered.

Bomb material, drug bust at the Camdenton Sleep Inn

On Sept. 26, law enforcement was called to the Sleep Inn location in Camdenton to a problem with a tenant. After entering the room, police located a number of drugs and “explosive materials”, leading to the need to vacate the hotel. The event shook the area for a day, wondering the level of concern to lay on this event. The subject was identified as Anthony M. Harris of Kansas City, MO. He was charged with four felony counts of drug trafficking and one felony count of Unlawful Possession of a Weapon. It appeared that the use of these items was not intended for the lake area.

Tan-Tar-A rebrands as Margaritaville

Lake of the Ozarks became an island paradise when one of the Lake’s oldest large-scale resorts was renovated and rebranded Margaritaville Lake Resort. While Tan-Tar-A Resort was acquired by Driftwood Acquisitions & Development in 2017, the official name change took place earlier this year. Legendary musician Jimmy Buffett is an owner in Margaritaville Holdings, which licenses the brand. The renovation and rebranding of the resort included improvements to the property’s guest rooms and exterior that incorporated Margaritaville’s “casual-luxe’”design. Several new dining concepts have been introduced including JB’s Boathouse Grill and Frank & Lola’s Pizzeria, and the flagship LandShark Bar & Grill. Many popular attractions were renamed like the Jolly Mon Indoor Waterpark, Fin City Bowling and the Fin City Arcade.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources signs Interim Trail Use Agreement

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources signed an Interim Trail Use Agreement with Missouri Central Railroad Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameren Missouri, paving the way for the future railbanking of 144 miles of the former Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad corridor. The corridor stretches from Windsor to Beaufort, Missouri. The trail has been in the works for several years. The interim agreement is the first step in a long process of funding for the trail. In other trail related news in 2019, a funding mechanism allowing creation of an endowment fund to accept contributions to finance and support the trail project was passed by the Missouri State Legislature.

Camden County Commission clashes with lodging association

During the final days leading up to the November vote on the soccer destination sales vote and in the weeks following, the Camden County Commission raised questions about how the Tri-County Lodging Association operates. The issue was brought to the county commission by opponents of the lodging tax proposal. The commission went so far as to get a legal opinion to determine what action, if any they could take against TCLA. Camden County collects the tax from lodging facilities that is used by TCLA to fund events and promote Lake of the Ozarks as a tourist destination. The county cannot withhold funding without a court order.

Financial woes unfold in Eldon

As the year comes to a close, the city of Eldon seems to be poised for a change in leadership and possibly an audit. The city has come up short on the financial end. City officials say it has been years since an audit was done. Services have been cut, some employees have been let go and the community has rallied behind the Eldon Fire Department after the city announced a 3 firefighters were being terminated. Residents are questioning where the money went. A former city administrator was re-hired to sort out the financial problems but, so far, there are more questions than answers. In an unusual twist, some residents say they are willing to pay an increase in taxes to restore the fire department.

New water regulations finalized

The Missouri Highway Patrol Water Patrol Division finalized the rules and regulations that will allow some navigational changes with additional no-wake restrictions on Lake of the Ozarks. Late in the year, the water patrol division announced applications process was underway to allow more coves on Lake of the Ozarks to be restricted to no-wake zones for larger boats. The Missouri Highway Patrol Water Patrol Division is expected to issue the first permits aimed at reducing wakes of bigger boats in smaller coves in March.

Camden County Audit finally released

More than 2 years after requesting the Missouri State Auditor’s office do an audit of Camden County government, the results were released to the public. The state made it clear that while no criminal violations were found, the county did need to do a better job. The audit identified a lack of financial oversight across several county offices and departments. Recommendations for the sheriff, prosecuting attorney, public administrator recorder of deeds and county clerk offices related to the need for better accounting practices. In several county departments, internal processes needed improvement. The commission was cited for a number of things including not following policies already on the books.