Megan Morris, daughter of Bass Pro Shops’ Johnny Morris, stood before a small crowd of journalists and their cameras Aug. 1, for a press conference regarding development of Finley Farms and the Ozark Mill.
“Not only was the river and the mill historic for this town, but there’s kind of a personal connection here to our family that we wanted to share with you today,” Ms. Morris said.
Old family pictures flashed across a TV screen at the old Wheeler Gardens location, purchased by the Morris family for the project, as Morris explained just what everyone was seeing.
“This is a picture that was taken of a catfish that my great-grandfather noodled in 1902…and that great-grandfather of mine was actually a miller in the town of Willard, so there’s a family history of milling in the Morris family,” Morris said. She went on, explaining Ozark’s significance to her relatives.
“My grandparents lived on Fourth street, just here by the mill, in the early 40s, and my family lived here for a few years,” she said. “I actually went to Ozark North Elementary and have a lot of great memories gardening and antiquing with my mom here in Ozark, so it’s a special place for our family and we’re really excited to be back in the community.”
Since the announcement of the redevelopment of the old historic site, Morris has been quoted in press releases and statements regarding the ongoing project. Though the project combines the visions of her father, Bass Pro employees and other design partners, Morris is seemingly spearheading its collaboration.
“I, personally, am just really passionate about this project,” Morris says.
Morris has a background in nonprofit management, she says, and she’s worked largely on Bass Pro’s giving strategies, giving back to communities and their conservation initiatives.
“I’ve also been involved with Big Cedar on some projects,” she said. “We’re working on a campground there at Long Creek Marina. We’re doing campground accommodations there with a tents and tiny houses type of thing.”
Some Ozark residents may recognize Megan Morris’ face or voice—she’s also been involved with Ozark’s Main Street group initiative, the Historic River District. She currently sits on the board as the organization’s vice president, having previously served as secretary.
“She’s got a very good sense of planning and project working,” the organization’s past president Brad Jackson said. Jackson is also a former mayor of Ozark and the owner of apparel store Hometown Sports.
“I think she’s extremely hard working. Some people might think that being a daughter of a large corporation owner, she wouldn’t have to put forth so much effort,” Jackson said. “That’s not the case with her. It’s been a pleasure working with her, and I look forward to a lot more time and projects with her.”
Morris also worked closely with City Administrator Steve Childers.
“Megan and I have developed our working relationship through this project, but what has been so amazing is that she has gone that additional step and now she’s on our board of Main Street. She is saying, ‘Look, we’ve got to get another grassroots organization together to really push this trail initiative,’” Childers said. “I mean, she’s just getting into the downtown because she steps back and says, ‘I know what our property is, but it’s the whole central business district.’”
Morris also commented on her close involvement with the downtown community.
“I’ve really gotten a pulse on what the community wants to see here, and it’s been really great to get to know people,” Morris said. “It’s also just been wonderful to get to work with these teams of engineers and architects to see how we can make these dreams possible.”
Though Megan Morris stands in front as the face of the Ozark Mill project, she says the best part of it all has been the opportunity to work with her dad.