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Greetings and Happy New Year to All of Our 1999 Guests

In keeping with all the hoopla generated by the coming new millennium, we want to join in the celebratory spirit and wish you all the best in the year 2000 and beyond. We thank you for helping us succeed in doing what we love. There is nothing greater than truly loving your job!

Articles:

Our Year in Review... Trials & Tribulations

...Big Brother Is Watching
As many of you know, working with any government agency and its attendant bureaucracy can be a nightmare for small business. They make nothing easy! Everything is complicated beyond belief. As all of you taxpayers know.

We had an experience with the Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology, which is now changing its name to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (imagine the cost to taxpayers to implement that change!). This department operates under the guidelines as set forth in federal legislation (EPA). So, we had a double layer of bureaucracy at work.

To be honest, this agency did a pretty fine job in implementing the regulations. The only problem, was that because of time deadlines, the final cost to us was probably twice what the cost should have been.

To explain, we had two underground gas storage tanks when we bought the resort. We used one for gas for our guests, the other we leased to the school for their buses. The regulations required that the tanks be out of the ground by December 22, 1998.

The company removing the tanks had to apply for a time extension because of the backlog of tanks they had to remove. We were not allowed to buy gas for our tank or pump gas after this date. We finally got our tanks removed and an above-ground system installed in July, 1999. Our cost: Around $9,000.

We'll never recoup this cost in the price we charge for gas. We use gas mainly for our boats, probably around 3,000 gallons per year. We figure it'll take us 12 to 15 years just to break even. Many small gas stations had no choice but to go out of business last year.

But, looking on the bright side, what if they had found a leaky gas tank when they pulled them out of the ground (they had an inspector right there on the scene as they were pulled). Don't think we didn't hold our breath!

...Cats
Being the animal lovers that we are, we wound up with too many kittens and not enough takers these last couple of years. But what to do! We couldn't take the mothers in to get fixed because the kittens were too small and they were all outside cats. By the time the kittens were weaned, the mothers were expecting again.

We talked to our vet, Dr. Bill Presley, discussing several options. None seemed workable. Finally Bill came up with a solution: As soon as the kittens venture out on their own, bring in the mothers. Bill assured us that the kittens would hide themselves until the mother returned, and would be none the worse for it. Although skeptical, we tried it with Gravel Gertie first (she being the most prolific). And darn if it didn't work fine!

So began the task of getting every mother cat into Dr. Bill. Next was Cutie Pie, then Igor, then Scaredy Cat, then Whiney Cat. As far as we know, we didn't lose a kitten. We had two males (Little Voice and Pinky) neutered also, because they started battling. By this time, we took a little breather before tackling the kittens. We were able to get two of the kittens adopted. One of our young guests, Miss Carmen Conley, adopted one...thanks, Carmen! As of today, December 10, we've spayed every single female and neutered several males! The grand total: 17 cats. By the way, Dr. Bill gave us a break on the cost, throwing in a few for free, and not charging for anesthesia, antibiotics or boarding. Dr. Bill is the best!

Of course, that's still too many cats. One of our neighbors wants to take one or two cats when they return from a trip. And all of you are welcome to take one or two. They are all very beautiful, each with its own personality. By the way, we have no mouse problem at Black Oak!

We feel that if nothing else got done this year, this was a major accomplishment in itself!

By the way, for all of you who bonded with Jitterbug, he misses you all; no one to hang out with these days. He's turned out to be the most beautiful, big, long-legged, tuxedo cat, with the most personality and smarts of any cat we've seen.

...Dogs
We were half-expecting to lose one of our old dogs, and it happened this August, when we lost our dear devoted Grant. He was 13 years old, and had fluid building up around his heart. There was nothing that could be done. We kept him going on lasix for awhile, but it soon lost its effectiveness. At the end, Grant was suffering, and we had to take him in to be put to sleep. Grant was our junkyard dog, and was such a devoted pet, always good natured and loving, and he gave us great comfort after losing Herbie last year. Grant was the kind of dog that was everyone s favorite, his tail was always high and wagging. He was such a good dog, and we miss him very, very much.

Grant, beloved dog

Now the only dog we have left is Kala, and she's approaching 15 this January. She sleeps most of the day, and paces a lot in the evening. She's getting senile. We're going to try a new medication that's supposed to help cognitive dysfunction in old dogs. It's very sad to see your dog confused and not able to respond to you as she once did. We hope this medicine helps.

...Growing Old
No seriously bad news to report, thankfully, but we all have some problems crop up now and then.

Michael didn't have the greatest year. He got very sick in late May. Being a man, he wouldn't go to the doctor, even though he was very weak and feverish and sweating profusely each night, and wasn't eating or drinking hardly anything. Betty kept at him though, telling him if he didn't at least drink, he would go into kidney failure. Finally, after 3 or 4 days, he started to feel a little bit better. On that day, he made an appointment with the doctor. Betty commented that he was really a wuss, since now that he was feeling better, he was going to the doctor. Little did she know, but Michael had passed a little blood in his urine, but didn't tell her!

So, at the doctor's office, Michael tells Betty she can't go in with him to see the Doctor and to wait outside. Unbelievably, Betty dumbly agreed. So, Michael comes clean with the doctor and tells him everything! It doesn't take the doctor long to make a diagnosis: a urinary tract infection.

Michael is put on medication to clear it up ($90!). He is also scheduled for more tests at the hospital to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor also schedules an appointment with a urologist.

That appointment didn't come until mid-July. At the urologist's, the doctor explains that urinary tract infections are not very common in males (interestingly because of the length of their urethras). So he schedules more tests to check the kidneys for damage, and a PSA test. That's the one to check for prostate cancer. Michael hadn't had one for 9 years.

He also schedules a test that checks the urethra and bladder. This one is done after the results come back on the other two tests. This last test is really something, but Michael got through it pretty well. As it turns out, the diagnosis is BHP, or an enlarged prostate. Michael has to go in and be checked every year now to monitor the situation, but for now $1,000 later, he's fine.

Betty now makes sure Michael drinks plenty of fluids, and listens carefully whenever he pees!

Betty had a good year. Her Rheumatoid Arthritis is under control, and at her last checkup, her Rheumatologist found no evidence of joint damage. Betty thinks it's due to her taking fish oil and her running. She also always takes her medicine!

The biggest problem Betty had this year was an ingrown toenail. This is nothing to sniff at (no pun intended), which you know if you've ever had one. It started acting up in February and kept getting worse until she finally went to see a doctor. He wanted to remove the nail. Betty asked if he could just cut the skin around it away so she could keep the nail (very important to a runner). Well, it didn't work. It just made matters worse until it finally caused the nail to lift up on its own and relieve the pressure. As of right now, the nail is still slightly deformed, but no pain or infection. Betty's advice is to attack the ingrown nail promptly and you'll miss all the agony! Just be sure not to cut your toenails too short, cause that starts the problem.

We realize that good health is one of our greatest gifts, and we hope all of you had a healthy year.

...Chicago Marathon
Betty was still hard at her running, even finding fellow runners among our guests. Dave and Robert Nelson (brothers) were both training for the Chicago Triathlon. Jim Gorman was to run in the Chicago Marathon. Hopefully they all did better than Betty did in this year's Chicago Marathon. She did finish, but not in the time she hoped for. Her time was 6:06:21, which is her worst time. She was just coming back from a bad chest cold, and that didn't help. Plus, she knows she needs to lose a lot of weight! But she finished, and will definitely be back for more next year.

Also, a huge thank you to our niece, Romaine Gelsomino, and son Michael for coming to the race and cheering me on!

...Etc.
Michael stays very busy as Fire Chief for our volunteer fire department. He also is on the board of the Bull Shoals Chamber of Commerce, and is their treasurer. He is just now getting involved in trying to develop a community water system for our area, and is on that steering committee. He still bowls on a league, and holds a 185 average. He also plays a lot on the internet, and since we now have a TV satellite, is kept busy monitoring what's going on on the History Channel, the Learning Channel, and the Discovery Channel.

Betty stays busy with her running, and is still on the board of the Ozark Mountain Region, and serves as secretary, as well as serving on the Marketing Committee. Betty welcomes any of you to join her for her morning runs on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday on Ozark Isle. It's our own little piece of paradise out on Ozark Isle, and you'll love it too!

Of course the resort keeps us extremely busy too, but we do have the best helpers. Mary, Gerry, Janet and Linda are our excellent housekeepers, who we could not do without! Al handles the boats, motors and dock, and whatever else Michael needs help with. Michael is very happy to have Al. We also have added John, who does a terrific job on all the maintenance around the place, which is never-ending.

Thank you all again for a very good year. We re looking forward to the coming year and seeing you all again in '00.

If You're Considering Retiring or Relocating....

We find that many of our guests visit this area with the intention of looking for a piece of property or a retirement home, or perhaps even relocating their families to a cleaner, safer, more hospitable climate. We can give you lots of tips, so don't hesitate to ask.

We also happen to have a very close friend, Vicki Jensen, who is also the best realtor in the area. She works for Larry Black & Associates, Inc. in Mountain Home, and is the one to contact if you would like to be shown the area and what it has to offer. She is very knowledgeable about the real estate market. She lives right here in our community, but covers the entire Bull Shoals Lake, Mountain Home area, and we can personally guarantee that she is the best person to work with. She can be reached at her office (Toll-free) at 877-425-9898, or at home at 870-431-8355. (e-mail: getreal@mtnhome.com). Call or e-mail Vicki for more information or a free brochure.

"Best" List of Area Restaurants

We are happy to report that one of our favorites, The Top Kat is again now open!

Best Entertainment
Hopper's Dinner Club, Mountain Home

Best Appetizer
178 Club (Potato Skins), Bull Shoals

Best View
Gaston's, overlooking the White River

Best Steaks
The Lakehouse Restaurant & Lounge, Gamaliel

Best Ribs
Hopper's Dinner Club, Mountain Home

Best Buffet
The Front Porch (Daily), Yellville
Bamboo Garden (Daily),
Mountain Home

Best Seafood
178 Club, Bull Shoals
Reel 'Em In Catfish, Mountain Home

Best Hamburger
The Back Forty, Mountain Home
The Top Kat, Stateline Missouri

Best Atmosphere
Chelsea's, Mountain Home

Best Italian
Dino's, Mountain Home

Best Oriental
The Blossom Cafe, Mountain Home

Best Value
European House, Mountain Home
Th'Barn Cafe, Oakland

Newest (Still) Restaurants
Tressie's Lone Wolf Cafe (Cajun), Mountain Home
Cafe Santa Fe, Mountain Home

Best Breakfasts
Couch's, Mountain Home
Th'Barn Cafe, Oakland

Best Salad
178 Club, Bull Shoals

Best Prime Rib
178 Club (Saturday night), Bull Shoals

Best Cheese Cake
The Lakehouse Restaurant & Lounge, Gamaliel

Best Lunch
Sodie's Ice Cream Parlour, Flippin

From Our Guests

These days, no one has much time to cook, and it seems that the trend is to eat out more and more. We all have too little time, but we still need to eat our vegetables. One of the most versatile is the tomato, and it's also one of the most nutritious (Lycopene, baby)! This year we have two delicious recipes, both simple, and both using a prepared salsa as one of the main ingredients.

Our first recipe comes from one of our very favorite guests, Joanne Logan of Naperville, Illinois. She usually has us over for dinner whenever she stays with us. Joanne loves to try new recipes, and both Joanne and her husband Jerry are great cooks.

Joanne uses more (one cup each) of red bell pepper, onion and celery. I'd use olive oil instead of margarine. Of course, you could substitute red or pinto beans easily in this recipe. Also, to make it more nutritious, you might use brown rice, adding it before the beans and picante sauce to allow for the longer cooking time. (I can't seem to resist changing a recipe!) With bread and a salad, this makes a complete, healthy meal.

     1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
     1/2 cup chopped onion
     1/2 cup chopped celery
     2 cloves chopped garlic
     3 tbsp. margarine
     1/2 tsp. oregano
     1 bay leaf
     2 (14-16 oz.) cans chicken broth
     2 cans black beans, undrained
     3/4 cup Pace Picante Sauce (mild or hot, to taste)
     1 cup instant rice

Saute pepper, onion, celery and garlic in margarine until soft, about 15 minutes. Add chicken broth, oregano and bay leaf. Bring to boil; simmer 5-10 minutes. Add beans, picante sauce and rice. Simmer 5-10 minutes or until done. Remove bay leaf. Serves 4. Yum!

1999 - Salsa Chicken & Rice

Our second recipe is from Richard and Phyliss Scrima of Mt. Prospect, Illinois. Yes, that's Michael's brother -- a little nepotism here. It's one of the simplest recipes to make, and takes very little time to prepare. It uses the leanest meat and of course, salsa!

Nothing could be simpler, but this dish is so good! Richard uses a little more chicken, because it seems to shrink. Although I normally like spicy dishes, I found the hot salsa a little too hot for this recipe. Abandanza!

4 boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
1 medium to large jar salsa (mild to hot, depending on taste)
4 cups cooked rice

Brown chicken in non-stick skillet until no longer pink and lightly browned. Add salsa. Simmer 10 minutes, until bubbly and chicken is cooked through. Serve over hot rice. Serves 4.

In Memory...

We were greatly saddened to hear of the passing of two of our very favorite guests over the years.

Donna Letman passed away at her home in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on January 18, 1999, losing her long battle with cancer. Donna and Mike Schroder were our guests every spring for many years. We used to always tease Donna about whether she and Mike had married yet. We thought they made a great couple, Donna so neat all the time, and Mike, always fishing and sweating profusely. Mike always fished in the mornings by himself, but Donna would always accompany him every evening. (I don't think she felt quite the same as Mike did about fishing, but she never ever complained.) Mike wrote a beautiful tribute to Donna in his note to us. We know Mike misses her terribly, but Mike was with her til the end, and that must have meant everything to Donna. We were very fond of Donna. Our sincere sympathy to Mike.

Bill Klindera of Bixby, Oklahoma, passed away in May, 1999. Bill and his wife Gisella stayed with us every year, and Bill had scheduled a visit at the very time he died. Gisella called to cancel their reservation due to Bill's illness. He had to have his leg amputated. But then Bill decided he would still make the trip. But it was not to be. Before he could make the trip, he passed away suddenly. Bill was a fighter. He was the only person we ever met that took a vacation that included undergoing dialysis at our local hospital three days a week. He wanted to do everything himself, even though his son or Michael would have willingly helped him. He was fiercely independent. He was not a well man, but he never complained. Bill and Gisella had planned to retire in our area. Our deepest sympathy to Gisella and her family.

1999 Improvements

  • The most important thing that got done this year was finally paying off our mortgage on Black Oak Resort. Our last payment was made on July 28th -- Betty's birthday. We had a double celebration! We still have our mortgage on Black Oak Inn to pay off, but that's not near as much. This positions us perfectly to go back to our friendly banker and borrow for the lodge now. They have already indicated that there would be no problem in us getting another loan.
  • We did have quite an unusual expense this year with removing our gasoline storage tanks and installing an above ground fuel storage system (see related story).
  • We also have contracted the services of an architect to design our lodge. We are coming along nicely, and have finished the basic floor plan design phase (see related story).
  • We purchased a new 60 HP motor for our Mag-17 Bass Tracker.
  • We purchased a new queen sleeper sofa and Lazy Boy recliner for the deluxe 1-bedroom cabin (#4).
  • We installed new sliding glass doors in Cabins 6 and 7.
  • We purchased new 25-in. color TVs with remote for Cabins 3 and 5.
  • We installed a new water heater in Cabin 6.
  • We installed a water softener and chlorinator at Black Oak Inn. We also installed vertical blinds in all units at Black Oak Inn.

Coming in 2000

PlansOur lodge plans are well underway. We've hired an architect, and are making good progress. We've finished the initial design development phase. The main floor plans are pictured here, and we'll be bringing them to the Chicago Show in January. The lodge will be three levels:

Main Floor:

  • Reservation check-in
  • Gift shop
  • Dining/Conference Room (seats 60 with round tables; more with long tables)
  • Food Service area
  • Fireplace, Big Screen TV
  • Washrooms
  • Deck with BBQ (lakeside)
  • Manager's Apartment

Basement:

  • Laundry facility (open to guests)
  • Workout facility (free weights, bench, exercise videos, treadmill, universal gym equipment)
  • Vending machines
  • Poolroom
  • Tornado shelter
  • Washroom

Second Floor:

  • Four-Bedroom Penthouse: Panoramic lake view, Deck, BBQ, Master bedroom with whirlpool bath and shower, 3 additional bedrooms, Second bath with tub and shower, Greatroom (includes living room and kitchen and dining area). King-size bed in each bedroom. Two sleeper sofas in living room. Sleeps up to 12.
  • Two-Bedroom Penthouse: Lake view, Deck, BBQ, Master bedroom with whirlpool bath and shower, Second bedroom, Second bath with tub and shower, Greatroom. Sleeps up to 8.

The entire facility will be smoke-free. We are looking into a TV satellite resort package to provide each cabin with at least one movie channel. The lodge will definitely be hooked up to satellite. We are also looking at a phone system for the resort. With the Internet, the demand for phone services has changed considerably, and just a phone at the reservation desk won't be sufficient anymore. The total square footage is around 9,000. We were going to put in a bar, but we had to cut something to keep the project costs down. Maybe later.

We're finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, we'll be far enough along when you visit so you can see it being built. We can't begin taking reservations until we have a firm completion date. When we do, we'll be letting you all know. We are hoping to have it started this spring, or even sooner. We are very excited, and we didn't even fight that much during the design phase. We're sure that will still happen when we get down to the details.

Wish us luck!

New Rave Products

Each year my customers introduce me to some great new food products. There were two this year that really stood out.

The first is Betty Crocker's Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Betty used to always add garlic to her mashed potatoes, but these are extremely good, and taste like fresh. No more peeling potatoes for Betty.

The second product Betty found at the Chicago Marathon Sports Expo. It's called Fantasia, and they make fresh fruit juices or smoothies, and it comes in lots of flavors and is all natural. Betty tried two, and they were really outstanding. One was a soy cafe mocha flavor (4 stars) and one was called Berry Amazing, a mix of raspberries, blueberries, and other berries. So good! Don't know if they're available outside the area, but their number is 847-671-3990 ext. 45. Try them!

1999 Results: Annual Black Oak Fishing Contest

April and October were our hottest months for fishing this year! But our springtime fishing was one of the best years ever! Most of our guests that come year after year had big smiles on their faces, and told us the fishing was great this year. The conditions were right. We didn't have many spring cold fronts move thru, so the fishing just got better and better.

The husband and wife team of John and Connie North both won this year for Smallmouth and Kentucky bass. We also had three women winners. More winners were from Illinois (again). As usual, most of the winners have fished Bull Shoals Lake many times. Carol Vinson and Connie North won two years in a row! The largemouth and smallmouth were larger than last year's winners. Michael caught a 5-1/2 pound smallmouth this spring, which he released. Michael did well this year on a smoke with black flake grub. The lake is very low at this time, around 640. Normal pool is 654. We are way behind in rainfall for the second half of the year. But to look on the bright side, that means more fish concentrated in a smaller area!

All our winners will receive 10% discount on their cabin, plus a Black Oak cap or T-shirt.

Congratulations, winners!

1999 Fishing Contest Results

Largemouth Bass
4.3 lbs
Carol Vinson
St. Charles, MO
April 12, 7:30 p.m.
Sunset, Calm
Chug Bug
Silver/Black Topwater
"Catch and Release"

Smallmouth Bass
3.7 lbs
Connie North
Park Ridge, IL
October 5, 11 a.m.
Sunny, Calm
Rainbow
Rebel Fast Tracker

Kentucky Bass
3 lbs
John North
Park Ridge, IL
May 2, 1 p.m.
Sunny, Breezy, Warm
Hot-N-Tot
Chartreuse and Yellow

White Bass
3.3 lbs
Kim Galu
McHenry, IL
April 10, 9 p.m. (night)
Breezy, Clear, Warm
Grub
Clear/Silver Metalflake

Crappie
2 lbs - 15 inches
Bill Saager
Ottawa, IL
April 6, 5:30 p.m.
Sunny, Calm
Pumpkin Grub

Walleye
5.9 lbs
Gene Rose
St. Louis, MO
October 3, 2 p.m.
Warm, Cloudy
Just Before Rain
Smoke Grub

Channel Catfish
6.6 lbs
Clyde Jarocki
Northlake, IL
October 14, 9:30 a.m.
Clear, Windy
Pearl
Norman Little Deep N
Downrigging 30 Ft.

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