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Bass Pro and Wonders of Wildlife Give Back to the Community

With construction of the Wonders of Wildlife Conservation Education Center near completion, members of Bass Pro and Wonders of Wildlife are giving the Community Foundation of the Ozarks a gift all residents can benefit from. KSMU’s Matthew Barnes reports.

The board of the Wonders of Wildlife  Museum, and Bass Pro Shops owner John Morris have made a major donation to the community.   Rob Keck is the chairman of the WOW board.

“A check from Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops for $1.3 million dollars. Which represents the funds received by the museum for the city’s  hotel-motel tax since the museum had closed in 2007, would be presented to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. The hope is that this money would be used to support a number of very important community causes. Especially those related to conservation, our natural resources and promoting tourism throughout the Springfield area,” says Keck.

The museum opens in its entirety late next year.  However, the lengthy redesign process has made some residents start to question the project.

WOW is now declining any future taxpayer assistance from the hotel-motel tax.  That’s a tax that brings money to select businesses that promise to bring in tourism.  In addition to the 1.3 million dollars it’s giving back to the community, WOW says it will donate an additional $2.7 million dollars over the next five years to the CFO to equal the amount the museum has received from that hotel-motel tax since it opened in 1988, totaling a $4 million dollar donation.  This came as a surprise to many people, including Mayor Jim O’Neal.

“I’m more excited about being mayor and being here today than anything I’ve done since the time I have been elected.  It’s an honor to be representing the city of Springfield here today. And please know that the council will take great care in determining how to utilize these funds newly available for the betterment of our entire community,” says

It hasn’t been decided exactly how the money will be spent, but CFO President Brian Fogle said he expects most of the money will go toward conservation and tourism. The Conservation Education Center at the Wonders of Wildlife is expected to open January 12th.

The final museum is expected to rival other facilities like the Museum of Nature History in New York, according to Bass Pro Shop’s founder John Morris. For KSMU News, I’m Matthew Barnes.