Government Shutdown Nearly Ruins Wedding Plans

Published 10/10 2013 04:10PM

Updated 10/10 2013 07:46PM

BRANSON, Mo. -- Nearly one year ago, Steven Hart knelt down near the shore of Table Rock Lake and proposed to his girlfriend, Chrissy Mayo.

The couple planned to marry as close to the spot as the could, and decided to rent out the nearby Dewey Short Visitor Center. The plan seemed like a good one, even during the government shutdown, because the Ozark Rivers Heritage Foundation was staffing the center to keep it open.

But two days before Hart and Mayo's wedding, the Corps changed its mind and closed the venue down.

"We've already paid for the flowers, the cake, the tux, the minister. Everything. Everything is paid for." Mayo said.

Hart jumped in, finishing his fiance's sentence, "Now it's trying to find something at the last minute at this price range."

The closing of the center came as a shock to the workers and volunteers at Ozark Rivers Heritage Foundation, too.

Sheila Thomas, the executive director of the non-profit, told the couple early in the week they could still use the facility.

"I assured [Mayo] earlier in the week that everything was fine," Thomas recalled. "Because that's what we were told, that we would be able to continue to operate the visitor's center."

Instead, Thomas said, she and her workers will have to refund thousands of dollars worth of deposits, fees and reservations, including the $650 Hart and Mayo paid to reserve Dewey Short.

Thomas waited by the gate outside the center on Thursday morning to explain the situation to visitors. One couple came from Florida to enjoy the dam, but redirected to the nearby trout hatchery, disappointed.

"Decisions keep reversing, keep changing," Thomas said. "And we feel like we're kind of out of control here, where there's nothing we can do."

After searching all of Thursday, Hart and Mayo found a new venue, one that was actually cheaper than Dewey Short.

"We work together well as a team," Hart said.

His fiance added, "And nothing's going to stop us."

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