2007-04-04 14:46:59.747

Vista Grande Employees Share $10,000 Powerball Prize

Story Photo A group of 14 employees who work at Vista Grande Mexican restaurant in Osage Beach are sharing more than the workload after one of the combinations on their group’s Powerball tickets for the March 24 drawing matched four white-ball numbers and the Powerball number to win $10,000. Karen Garrison of Eldon said she bought the group’s winning ticket at Conoco Super Store, 4294 Highway 54 in Osage Beach. She said they have been playing as a group for the past two or three years.
The 14 winners are: Melissa Atwell, 26, Sean Atwell, 33, and Ashlee Day, 22, all of Camdenton; Karen Garrison, 47, of Eldon; Jenny Dunmire, 18, of Jefferson City; Krista Lynch, 37, and Douglas Himes, 46, both of Kaiser; James English II, 37, Melissa Hild, 24, Penny Wiggins, 50, and Jaime Skelly, 30, all of Lake Ozark; David Mullikin, 51, of Macks Creek; and Bonita "Bonnie" Dollar, 21, and Neva Hasker, 25, both of Osage Beach. The $10,000 prize is being split 15 ways, since one member, James English II, who is the manager, contributed two shares. Each share is worth approximately $640, after taxes.
Garrison explained that after she buys the Powerball tickets, she photocopies them and places the copies on the bulletin board in the kitchen of the restaurant.
"Everyone puts in $1 per draw," said Garrison, who is the dining room manager. "Steve (Lynch) checked the tickets on Sunday, and he called everyone that wasn’t at work (to tell them about the win)."
The group decided to meet at 7:30 a.m. on March 27 at Denny’s restaurant and to "caravan" to the Jefferson City Lottery office to claim their prize early that morning.
"We’re like extended family," said Penny Wiggins, who is a server. "Most of us have been working together for almost 20 years."
Wiggins and her husband plan to use their prize money for new tires.
"We’re going to put four new tires on the Cadillac," she said. "And I’m getting my hair done."
Karen Garrison said she plans to use her share to pay the balance on her son’s senior cruise.
"I’m putting mine toward the adoption of another child," said Krista Lynch. Lynch has a 17-month-old daughter that she previously adopted.
Melissa and Sean Atwell say the money will be used for upcoming costs for the birth of their first child, who is due in four weeks. Jenny Dunmire also has a child due in September, and she plans to use her prize money for those expenses.
Other plans include paying bills, saving for a new car, buying a laptop, paying off student loans, taking a boyfriend to dinner and shopping.
"It’s the little things - that you don’t normally buy," said Jaime Skelly, who is a bartender for the restaurant.
The third-level Powerball prize increased from $5,000 to $10,000 in August 2005, when the game was redesigned for the fourth time since it started in April 1992.

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