The News-Leader's Answer Man: New Life for Dogpatch?

A small broadcasting company based in Las Vegas appears to be behind a reported leasing of the 400-acre former Dogpatch USA theme park in Newton County, Arkansas.   That might sound vague. 

That's because the man behind the reported lease, David Hare, an executive with the Las Vegas Broadcasting Company/America's TV Network, has been posting what I would call confusing videos about the acquisition - rather than concrete information.

Hare is the person behind the company interested in Dogpatch -  Heritage USA. 

The Dogoatch property is located on Highway 7 between Harrison and Jasper. 

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette posted a story on Monday that has concrete information from the apparent seller.
The newspaper talked to Charles "Bud" Pelsor, one of the current owners.

According to the paper, he and business associate James Robertson purchased the  property in 2014 for around $2 million with hopes of transforming it into an eco-tourism themed artisan village.

In a Monday story in the Arkansas Democrat, Pelsor says an agreement was reached Nov. 26 and the lease will begin March 1. He would not reveal details of the agreement but said there are options to buy the property during the lease and when it ends.

According to the story, Pelsor and Robertson had been trying to sell the property for about $2 million. 

Pelsor said Heritage USA's lease-purchase agreement on a hotel and convention center in nearby Marble Falls is a separate deal with a different owner.

Heritage USA won't try to resurrect Dogpatch, but it will restore some of the buildings and have a Dogpatch museum, according to Pelsor.

Hare recently posted a video that states that Heritage USA has acquired the historic theme park, a hotel, RV park and theater. 
According to the video, "It will be the new location of our production and broadcast studios."

In addition, Hare talked at length about how "Hubble Hair," the longtime Heritage USA mascot, will be animated and how respect for the flag and love of country are not honored enough in America these days.

 "I'm not sure if it's widely understood in some parts of the entertainment industry that the American flag is a good thing," he said in the video.
"One of the programs I am most excited about is our educational series.

"Today, the education system is being overwrought in the view of many with an anti-America agenda and we just want to set the record straight.
"I don't know why, but Christianity is under attack in America," he said. "And Christianity goes hand in hand with our great American heritage. 
And we're here to support it and defend it through the creative arts and production and entertainment.

"We are your conservative entertainment company. Really we are your American entertainment company."

Pelsor told the Arkansas paper he thought Hare lives in Las Vegas.
I tried various ways to reach Hare but did not hear back. Information on social media indicates he works in Las Vegas.

Reader Carolyn Goucher was troubled by the swipe at "the education system" in the video and forwarded me a screen shot of a Facebook exchange she had with a man named Mike Bigelow, who apparently is involved with Heritage USA's plans for Dogpatch. 

Bigelow also works for the same Las Vegas company as Hare.
Bigelow is listed as vice president of the Las Vegas Broadcasting Company/America's TV Network,  founded in 2012.

I tried to reach Bigelow via Facebook and he did not respond.
Bigelow wrote back to Goucher:
"I would simply add to David's (Hare's) comments that our 'brand' is very much in line with the Branson style of entertainment, 'God, Family, Country.' We're not 'political' or 'religious' but do celebrate those core values.

"It will not be a time share  but a resort with theme park, hotel, theater, and RV Park. Facilities will be opened in stages and plans are to have he new train running over Marble Falls of 'Christmas Village USA 2019.' 

I found little on the history of Heritage USA - at least the one involved with Dogpatch.

Bigelow clarified that the current Heritage USA has nothing to do with the former American Christian theme park, water park, and residential complex built in Fort Mill, South Carolina by PTL Club founders televangelist Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. 

On a Facebook page, Hare describes himself this way:
"In the early 1980's he performed with rock icon, Little Richard and wrote, directed and produced his first large scale musical productions at Melodyland, adjacent to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

"David is the creator and host of 'K.KID RADIO with Hubble Hare,'a successful kids radio show heard throughout Southern California in the late 80's. In the 90's."

In 2012, Hare started at "America's Television Network, and currently serves as the host and executive producer for the network.

On his LinkedIn page, Hare describes himself as a writer, director, producer, speaker, and broadcaster.  He was the creator and director of "Hubble Town," a Toon-Town-styled summer camp in San Diego.

My best guess is that if this deal  comes to fruition,  "America's Television Network" will move from Las Vegas to Dogpatch.

Dogpatch opened in 1968 with rides and other attractions. At its peak, it drew 9,000 visitors a day.

The theme was the characters of the Li'l Abner comic strip, which began in 1934. The hill-folk filled strip - featuring the likes of Li'l Abner, Daisy Mae, Mammy and Pappy Yokum - found an enthusiastic audience in the Ozarks.

The end came in 1993, when the park closed for good.

A thorough history of the park, written in January, is available on the Ozarks Alive blog, by Springfield writer Kaitlyn McConnell.

Former News-Leader photographer Valerie Mosely took photos of the park in March of 2015. 

(These are the views of Steve Pokin, the News-Leader's columnist. Pokin has been at the paper 31/2 years and over the course of his career has covered just about everything - from courts and cops to features and fitness. He can be reached at 836-1253, spokin@gannett.com, on Twitter @stevepokinNL or by mail at 651 N. Boonville, Springfield, MO 65806.
Steve's articles:  http://www.news-leader.com/topic/f471bbef-b023-4ca2-b031-eda137400290/pokin-around/)


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