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Spotlight on Douglas County

Mayor of Ava Burrely Loftin

We asked some of our local elected officials to write some thoughts about why they feel Douglas County is special. Enjoy!

Senator Roy Blunt

Douglas County is a beautiful part of our state. It’s home to family-run farms, small businesses, and one of Missouri’s – and our nation’s – top National Forests.

Whether it’s fishing, hunting, hiking, or camping, Mark Twain National Forest has plenty of great outdoor activities. Residents are fortunate to live so close to the 1.5 million acre park and all of its pristine streams, quiet trails, and sprawling woodlands. The National Forest also supports the local economy. Visitors from across the state and the nation support jobs and local businesses, from bait and tackle shops to restaurants and hotels.

 As a frequent visitor to national parks throughout our state and the country, I’ve advocated for policies in Congress to help make sure national treasures like Mark Twain National Forest are managed in the right way and preserved for future generations. That’s why I was proud to help introduce the Great American Outdoors Act – one of the most important packages of conservation legislation that has been signed into law in decades. This landmark legislation includes much-needed resources for programs that have historically benefited significant sites like Mark Twain National Forest.

With world food demand expected to double in the next 30 to 40 years, there are a lot of great economic opportunities ahead for the ag industry. This is great news for places like Douglas County, where farming and ranching is an important economic driver.

As the son of dairy farmers, I always enjoy meeting with FFA students from the area when they visit Washington, D.C. Before the pandemic, I was fortunate to meet FFA students from Ava, and I was very impressed by all they’re doing to become the next generation of leaders in ag.

Like so many others, I was saddened by the passing of Theta Porter. I will always cherish my memories of catching up with this remarkable woman, hearing her stories while enjoying a slice, or maybe two, of Rhubarb Pie at Porter’s Café in Squires. Theta’s passion for cooking and love of people was always on full display. She was a staple of Douglas County, and her memory will live on in all of our hearts.

 I’m honored to serve the people of Douglas County and all Missourians in the United States Senate, and I will continue working with community leaders, families, and businesses on the issues they care most about. I look forward to making another stop in Douglas County soon.

Senator Karla Eslinger

As it is often said, “home is where the heart is,” my heart will always be in Douglas County.  My husband and I chose to live and raise our kids in this area because of its quality of life, small-town appeal, and rural family values that make it truly great.  Douglas County is also home to countless happy memories for us.

In Douglas County, we value integrity, accountability and respect.  For me, what stands out is the good, hard-working people that call it home.  While the county may be less populated than others, it certainly makes up for that in courage, character and hospitality.  As a former school superintendent at Ava R-1, I’ve seen time after time how Douglas County residents have come together to help others when they needed it most.  

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the natural beauty of Douglas County and how fortunate we are to enjoy the rolling Ozark hills and scenery, which are truly remarkable year-round.  I always appreciate driving past the county’s numerous farms, which are so brilliantly green this time of year.  I’m thankful for the hard work of our farmers to provide quality food for all to enjoy.

I’m also proud of the annual Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Association World Celebration & Show, which allows us to introduce all Douglas County has to offer to thousands of enthusiasts from around the world.

The first bill I filed as the newly-elected Senator for District 33, which includes Douglas County, is to designate the first week in September as “Fox Trotter Week” in Missouri, to help increase awareness of our state horse as well as economic activity.  

Through this bill, we will be able to partner with the Division of Tourism to increase promotion and visibility for the Fox Trotter and the World Show, which is a huge boost to the area economy.

It is my honor to represent Douglas County in the State Senate. I am focused every day on creating opportunities so that our children can grow up, work and live in this great place we call home.

Mayor Burrely Loftin

As mayor for the City of Ava, I take pride in knowing I am doing my best to secure the future of the city by managing spending and working on reserve funds. I would like to leave someday knowing it was in better financial shape than it was when I started. 

I have lived in Ava for over 40 years and in Douglas County my whole life. I have raised my family here and have many friends and family that have also chosen to make Ava and Douglas County their home. The friendly, home-town environment makes Ava a special place to work, reside, and raise a family. 

Ava and Douglas County has much to offer for citizens. Within the city limits, residents have the satisfaction of knowing they have police and fire protection 24/7. They rely on dependable utility services and when storms/flooding occurs, employees are out fixing the issues to keep the system in operation. 

Small businesses and larger retail businesses operate within the city and there is a good variety. Ava has beautiful parks and recreation areas and offer summer softball and bi-annual soccer games. 

The city water system is pure and clean as the water comes from a well that is drawn by fresh water streams and pumped into the system to your home. 

Douglas County has many fresh water streams for families to enjoy fishing, kayaking, floating and camping. 

The Glade Top Trail is a scenic trail with national forests surrounded by the beauty of nature. Grundy has an archery range; also, many residents enjoy deer and turkey season, and other wild game hunts. 

The Country Club golf course is an avid sport with its nine-hole golf and the beautiful landscaping; also, the Ava park has an 18-hole disc golf course. 

Ava holds many treasured memories and is truly the “Treasure of the Ozarks”. 

Alderman Keith Jones

I was recently asked, “What I find special about Ava or Douglas County”. 

Ava was my first assignment as a rookie Missouri State Trooper, and I actually had to look at a Missouri map to locate and find the town of Ava. I moved into town in 1986 upon graduation from the Highway Patrol Academy. At that time, the only person I knew here was the Trooper assigned to Douglas County. 

During my first few weeks in Ava, my training officer introduced me to the many city and county officials I would have the pleasure of working with during my service here. Throughout my years of service to Douglas County residents, I have found the people here to be friendly and welcoming.

One of my first memories of Ava occurred soon after I had settled into my home on the southeast side of town, near water tower hill. Two locals stopped by the house to welcome me, and my family to the area, and both men extended an invitation to attend an Ava church. I accepted, and still today, one of those men remains a treasured friend. 

I hold dear the many friendships and memories I have made and continue to enjoy while living in Ava and the Douglas County community. 

Just like many of you, I have found residents of this community to be very generous, especially when individuals or families are in need. We all have witnessed and participated in the many benefits, raffles, offerings, bake sales, and philanthropic opportunities that occur when a family or individual in our community needs financial support, a helping hand or both. 

And, local residents are not only generous financially, but also in spirit, and that makes this a special community for me. 

I recently read a quote “You are not fully trusted in a community until people can say, that they trusted your grandfather.” Hopefully, with that thought in mind, maybe I too have given back to community and paved the way for my grandchildren.

Alderman Billy Stewart

I, like many other residents of Ava and Douglas county, find many things about this area fascinating and great reasons to call it home. I share an interest as many of you do in the outdoors. We as a community are very fortunate to have access to thousands of acres of public land. Also there are many lakes, streams and rivers. Even living here in the city limits of Ava, you are just a stone throw away from the many natural wonders that we many times take for granted. 

These areas have historically always been places to socialize and gather for community events with others from the immediate areas and surrounding areas. One such event is the Glade Top Trail Run, which is held annually at the Mark Twain Forest. We also have many businesses directly linked to our environment and its resources, such as Crystal Lake Hatchery, which employs many local people and sells thousands of trout a year. 

I personally feel like many of these activities based in and around our natural resources and community create a common goal and unity in its citizens and promotes a friendly down home atmosphere. An example of this that I remember was when my wife was a real estate agent and was showing some property to some people from Arizona. I rode along to open gates and help out. Virtually everyone we passed on the highway waved, as most here do. The lady said, “you sure do know a lot of people around here,.” We told her we recognized a few of the people, but most we did not know, they were just simply being friendly. She could not believe it and said people sure did not do that where she was from. 

This part of the Ozarks is simply steeped in history and rich in culture. Just go to the Douglas County museum on a Saturday, there is a lot of great history there about Ava and the surrounding areas. 

We really are very fortunate to live where we do, and this is evident by the many people moving to Ava and Douglas County, a simple more laid back life coupled with hard work and determination, getting back to nature and what’s truly important in life. 

Neighbors helping neighbors and when push comes to shove, the community always comes together. These are just a few of the reasons I am happy to Call Ava my home. 

Alderman Stan Lovan

Q: What do you find special about Ava & Douglas County?

1. People – Caring and friendly people. When an individual is going through difficulties, people in Ava and Douglas County reach out to help in whatever way they can, through their presence in times of difficulty, with food and financial help. No matter what the need, people are always willing to help.

2. We are unique in our location – one hour to Springfield, one hour to Lebanon, one hour to West Plains -one hour to Mtn. Home -one hour to Branson – one hour to the lakes and various recreational opportunities.

3. We are home to a scenic byway -The Glade Top Trail– and are blessed to be so near national forest land on three sides of our county.

4. We are fortunate to have so many locally owned businesses plus a variety of national businesses.

5. We are fortunate to have Copeland Corporation as our largest employer as well as a partner in many civic and educational avenues.

6. Ava is home to the Bill Martin Memorial Airport, the best small airport in this part of the state.

7. Ava is the only place in the whole world where an individual can register a fox trotter horse and is home to two large annual foxtrotter celebrations where hundreds of owners gather for over a week.

8. Douglas County is home to a large fish hatchery that has been part of our area for over 60 years.

9. Ava’s wonderful parks’ areas with swimming pool, walking trail, covered shelters, skateboarding area. Veteran’s Memorial located in the lower park area. Plans are underway to extend walking trails. Ball parks in conjunction with Ava R-1 School.

10. Eighteen hole disc golf course, which is one the most outstanding disc golf courses in the area.

11. Missouri Department of Conservation Rippee Access where patrons can enjoy fishing, swimming, and hunting. Missouri Department of Conservation Shannon Ranch for camping, hunting and hiking. Missouri Department of Conservation Vera Cruz for swimming and fishing. Missouri Department of Conservation Grundy Archery Range.

Alderman Noel Dye

Ava and Douglas County are special because they are home. 

Spending almost our entire lives here, my wife and I have developed many friendships and relationships. 

It’s a place where neighbor helps neighbor and they care for one another. We can worship, work, and socialize with our friends. 

Community pride runs deep, and good old small-town values are passed down to the next generation. 

We are proud to call Ava and Douglas County home, have raised our family here and now seeing our grandkids growing up in this community.