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Local News from The Columbia Heart Beat -- 10/1/08

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  • Mike Martin
    The Columbia Heart Beat -- 10/1/08 Paperless News for Columbia s Blogs and Listservs http://columbiaheartbeat.blogspot.com people BOTTOMLANDS: The Geography
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2008
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      The Columbia Heart Beat -- 10/1/08
      Paperless News for Columbia's Blogs and Listservs

      BOTTOMLANDS:  The Geography of Inequality in Columbia, Missouri
      Our Series returns with a history of Flat Branch
      DEATON DOWNER:  MU Students Cry Foul Over Athletics "Tax"
      WATKINS AND ELKIN:  Discuss New Animal Shelter
      JERRY WADE:  Big Changes over Old Southwest Sewer Mess
      THE $739 DUPLEX:  Bail Out or Bailing Out -- on Boone Schools? 
      PAYING FOR PAQUIN:  Steinhaus v. Hindman v. Spence
      LIVING AT PAQUIN:  In Black, White, Color, and Grey
      AMEREN SUED:  Over East Campus Explosion 
      STREET SQUAWK:  West Blvd. and Beacon Street; Who Chained the Dogs Up? 
      the change gang
      PARRY PANS:  Missourian Staff
      KENNEDY CANS:  Visioning Process
      ROPER RAMS:  Overlay Ordinance

      ANNOUNCEMENTS:  Diversity Deadline; Parent Math Night; Farmer's Calendar;  Dumpling Festival
      MORTGAGE/HOUSING NEWSFrom Bank of Missouri's Tom Stone
      BOTTOMLANDS:  The Geography of Inequality in Columbia, Missouri
      Our Series returns 

      Part 4:  Flat Branch
      By Jason Jindrich from his MU Thesis:  Our Black Children
      In 1954 the City of Columbia, Missouri commenced razing blocks of substandard housing that made up the heart of the city’s Black community. As part of the urban renewal project, two creeks that ran through the neighborhood were deepened and forced underground, completing their transformation into sewers and disappearing from popular consciousness. The crowded rows of shanties were replaced with public housing, and many of the roads through the area were drained and paved for the first time.
      Engineering of the Sharp End neighborhood destroyed much of the remaining physical evidence of Columbia’s original city center. It also smoothed the former contours of the creek so completely that while driving Providence Road, built over the bed of the larger of the two creeks, it is possible to miss the dip in the road that marks their confluence. The end result of urban renewal completed a process of marginalization of the Flat Branch bottom that began at the founding of the city of Columbia.

      When the Smithton settlement failed early in the 1820’s due to a lack of water, the investors platted a new site approximately one half mile east in the bottomlands between Hinkson and Flat Branch Creeks. The incentive for siting in a floodplain was several year-round springs along Flat Branch Creek. The Market Square at the intersection of Cherry Street and Flat Branch Creek was intended to be the real heart of the city and for the first decades of Columbia most businesses were located there.
      The local historian John Crighton speculated that the section of Fourth Street that connected the creek and the market square was named Water Street to attract investors to the city by evoking images of canals and docks with a direct connection to the Missouri River.  Other city institutions were located with the seeming intention of making Flat Branch the center of the city. The city fathers also moved the Booneslick Trail from its former route through the north end of Boone County to a new path down Broadway and across Flat Branch.

      The strategy of relocation to the creek bottom worked and the city of Columbia
      did thrive, but overall the combination of water and development was a failure. The section of Broadway that intersected Flat Branch became one of the most notorious mires along the entire Booneslick Trail and as early as the 1830’s city funds were invested in keeping dray teams near the creeks to haul out stuck wagons and paving Broadway to make the roadway passable in wet weather.  During the late 1840’s the city market square along Flat Branch was generally abandoned in favor of business locations atop the ridge marked by Eighth and Ninth Streets.

      The few mentions of Flat Branch Creek that predate the Civil War are vague, and after the war the creek was largely ignored. A likely reason for the lack of direct description of the area fits the interests of William Switzler, Columbia’s first newspaper publisher and historian. His involvement in local politics civic boosting and heavy investment in real estate would give him every reason to be reluctant to report on an unattractive part of town, and it is significant that he was in the forefront of the 1843 campaign to separate the city center from the creek.

      The move of the business district out of the bottoms left the market square area largely abandoned and road construction to the west slowed while land was annexed to the east. The move of the business district is the last mention of Flat Branch in most city histories, although it did continue to exert some influence on the growth of Columbia as is suggested by the lag in development in the city’s west end.  An orthographic map of the city in 1869 levels out the terrain and omits Hinkson Creek at the east end of town, but the ravine at the center of the map indicates how obvious a feature Flat Branch Creek was in the landscape of Columbia during the years that saw the birth of Sharp End.


      DEATON DOWNER:  MU Students Cry Foul Over Athletics "Tax"

      Taxes, it seems, never sunset, even at a university filled with the financially strapped. 

      "In 1972, MU began collecting an $8 student fee to pay off a loan used to build the Hearnes Center," the MU Maneater recently reported.  "Although the debt was paid off in 1995, MU continued to collect the fee until 2004."

      "The Board of Curators voted to allow the fee in 1969 with the understanding that it would only be used to pay off the construction loan. The document stated all costs of operating and maintaining the building would be provided from other funds, not from the Hearnes Center fee."

      Between 1995 and 2004, long after the tax was due to sunset, it generated about $1 million for MU coffers.  In May 2007, the Hearnes Center Advisory Committee -- with support from the Missouri Students Association (MSA) and the Graduate Professional Council -- voted 8-5 to return $750,000 to students.

      But MU athletic director Mike Alden and Chancellor Brady Deaton said "no."   Instead, Alden proposed returning 50 percent of the interest accrued from the account -- about $15,000, according to the Maneater.

      The Maneater's student editors rightly panned the decision, claiming that Alden and Deaton were ignoring the concerns of the young minds in their charge. 
      "MSA did everything they possibly could to persuade the advisory committee, Alden, and Deaton that transferring the money was the most fair and logical way to deal with the sum," Maneater editors wrote. "They followed all the rules, talked with the right people, followed the process and did so with professionalism and persistence. And yet Deaton still denied the proposal - after avoiding it for 10 months."
      WATKINS AND ELKIN:  Discuss New Animal Shelter

      On a recent edition of the KFRU Morning Meeting, Boone County commissioner Skip Elkin tackled the possibility that the Central Missouri Humane Society (CMHS) -- amidst a worsening budget crisis -- would cut services or close.

      Columbia city manager Bill Watkins tackled the same issue in a series of email exchanges with this writer and the city council.

      In Columbia, the humane society is a strange hybrid -- both privately-funded animal adoption center and publicly-funded animal control facility or "dog pound."  Unlike any other city in which I've lived, Columbia/Boone County does not have a municipal animal control facility.  Instead, the city and several counties essentially "graft" the duties of a municipal animal control facility onto CMHS, which itself has a different mission -- rescue rather than control.

      The lack of public support for the public function is the shelter's largest budget issue, CMHS director Patty Forister said.  While animal control takes in about half the shelter's yearly animal total, CMHS only receives about 1/10th of its annual budget from public sources -- $100,000 from the city of Columbia and $10,000 from the county of Boone.

      "I do think it's up to the city and county to come together on this with adequate funding," Elkin told Morning Meeting listeners.  "I also think we should build a new animal control facility.  It's basically an issue of public health and it's long overdue."

      Elkin's thinking is in line with the City of Springfield, which provides an animal control facility "as a service to the citizens
      of Springfield, and to protect public health."  Elkin said he was "meeting shortly" with city leaders on the issue, which he agreed was at "a crisis stage."

      Watkins confirmed that "one of the options we are studying is to build our own 'pound' to handle animal control issues.  Earlier this week, we met with CMHS reps for the first time that either [Boone/Columbia Health Department director] Stephanie Browning or I can remember regarding their financial condition.  I asked for 5 years audits so we can look at the books -- some
      of them are available, some are not."

      Watkins also noted that "many other jurisdictions including the State Ag Department use the facility at little or no cost," a problem that CMHS director Patty Forister earlier confirmed.  "We have about 20 counties that send animals our way, but not one of those counties contributes anything to our budget," she said.

      This "free rider" problem may grow with a new facility, Watkins argued.  "I think there is a case to be made that a new facility is needed, but I'm skeptical that the city should pay for it and that a new, bigger facility would not just make the operational issues worse."  

      Watkins also said that he thinks the city pays its "fair share." 
      "We average 11-12 animals boarded for animal control reasons per day over the last five years," Watkins explained.   "From just a pound perspective, I think we pay our share -- a little over  $25/day per animal for boarding.  I pay less than that to board our dogs at Hortons Animal Hospital when we leave town.  (Both our dogs are from the Humane society or a rescue.) "

      Animal control in Springfield, MO 

      A History of Animal Control in Los Angeles, Calif.
      JERRY WADE:  Big Changes over Old Southwest Sewer Mess

      "As many of you are aware, there have been some significant problems with the sewer district construction project in the Maupin/Edgewood Street area.  The primary contractor, Columbia Curb and Gutter (CCG), has done
      work for the city for many years and it is generally high quality. 
      "However, the project reached a point where the City could no longer tolerate the non completion of the yard restoration, which is being handled by a subcontractor.  Earlier this week, the City took the unusual step of notifying the contractor that the work of Designer Landscaping, the landscaping subcontractor, was not acceptable.  This subcontractor has been removed from the project and a new landscaping subcontractor, Schrimpf Landscaping, has been brought in to do job

      "Residents in this neighborhood have been generally very patient and the City thanks them.  It is the City’s  intention to get this project cleaned up and finished this fall."

      Jerry Wade
      4th Ward Council Representative
      THE $739 DUPLEX:  Bail Out or Bailing Out -- on Boone Schools? 

      Into our ongoing series on huge property tax breaks for some of our wealthiest citizens with "squeaky tight" budgets
      for everyone else wanders the Incredible Duplex of Jeffrey M. Smith, one of the nation's largest taxpayer-subsidized developers.  

      Situated on a 4.5 acre lot on Columbia's Glenover Court in a Smith development called Hanover Gardens -- built with some $800,000 in taxpayer-funded subsidies -- the four-bedroom, four-bath investment property features 2,373 square feet.  Built in 1999, the duplex is appraised for $739.00 -- that's right, seven hundred and thirty nine dollars -- by Boone County assessor Tom Schauwecker (d), who has its 4.5 acre lot appraised for $45,299.00.

      Last I looked, even the smallest, the most run-down duplex in town was selling for just under $100,000, with newer, larger duplexes 
      soaring toward $200K.   
      Surely Smith will be an avid supporter of Columbia Public Schools next property tax levy.  At $0.45 per $100 of assessed valuation, say, he will pay about three extra dollars for his $739.00 duplex! 

      PAYING FOR PAQUIN:  Steinhaus v. Hindman v. Spence
      The recreation program at Paquin Towers is safe for now, but not for long. 
      An enlightening public e-discussion between former statehouse candidate Sean Spence (D), the Columbia City Council, the Mayor and the City Manager highlighted a rift between the city and the Columbia Housing Authority (CHA) over who's responsible for the program. 

      "The city of Columbia has been in effect donating the Paquin Tower recreation program and transportation services to the Columbia Housing Authority," Mayor Darwin Hindman emailed Spence, who is trying to raise money for the program's long-term viability.  "So far, the Columbia Housing Authority has declined to pay any share of the recreation program costs other than donating the space. 
      Who do you know that runs a residence for the disabled or elderly that doesn't provide recreation or transportation services?"
      Hindman's advice to Spence:  "I suggest you work on CHA to get them to ante up."

      But Spence told Hindman that according to CHA director Phil Steinhaus, "
      when the program was started 38 years ago, it was part of the City's commitment to provide recreational programming...this commitment was made as an incentive for HUD to build Paquin.  For 38 years, the residents of Paquin, as well as others in the community, have counted on that program."

      City council members salvaged most of the program in this year's budget, but 4th Ward councilman Jerry Wade echoed Hindman's concerns in a heated discussion with Steinhaus at a council meeting.  "What about Oak Towers?" Wade asked.
      "Are they getting anything from the housing authority?  I've just never heard of a housing authority not providing recreation and transportation for its residents."     
      LIVING AT PAQUIN:  In Black, White, Color and Grey

      I spent all day with Clarence White, 66, in his apartment in the Paquin Towers as a part of a workshop with Danny Wilcox Frazier. What an amazing, heartbreaking day. Clarence waited all day for his girlfriend to show up, so he and I spent hours watching TV and talking and then sometimes just sitting in silence. She never showed. He never left the apartment.
      I loved Frazier's advice to me midday when I came back from the first hours of sitting: to shoot darker, if it felt right. Now, exhausted and a little sad, I look forward to making it back to Clarence (most people call him Dan) to see if there isn't some facet of his life that brings him some joy. The above are images taken in a day, inside his apartment.
      -- Amanda Lucier, MU Photojournalist

      See her photos here:
      Ruth Brandon, 64, has been a resident of Paquin Towers in Columbia MO for the past 12 years. She has been living alone since her second husband died 18 years ago. For all of her adult life she has suffered from schizophrenia, and the death of her husband further traumatized Ruth. At one time, wanting to be an English teacher because of her love for literature and poetry, her disorder prevented her from finishing college. She wrote a book of poetry and had planned on having it published but income from the book would cut her medicare and medicaid, so it lies in her bedroom with her cassette tape of a recorded poetry reading that she had me listen to. The medications for her schizophrenia have taken a heavy toll on her physical health; most recently she was diagnosed with wet macular eye degeneration which will leave her legally blind within the next year. Ruth said that she will miss her books the most when she can no longer see. She was incredibly passionate about finding a way to send a message that would deconstruct the stigma around mental disorders. She wanted me to photograph her apartment to show that not all people with mental disorders are "crazy."

      I was able to connect with Ruth through a workshop hosted by the new photojournalism departments group, InFocus and host Danny Wilcox-Frazier. We spent the day shooting at Paquin Towers and getting to know some of it's residents stories. This was an exceptionally amazing experience. Ruth and I have spoken further on the phone and plan to spend more time together. I would like to make this an ongoing project.
      -- Catherine Szalkowski, MU Photojournalist
      See her photos here:
      AMEREN SUED:  Over East Campus Explosion 

      The March 14, 2008 East Campus explosion that killed retired University of Missouri mechanical engineering professor Carl Sneed and his wife Merna at their home on McNab Street has found its way into a Boone County courtroom.   Daughters Linda Sneed, Pamela Heath, and Patricia Sneed filed a wrongful death action this past June against natural gas supplier AmerenUE. 
      Earlier, fire department investigators had determined that natural gas was the cause of the blaze. 
      STREET SQUAWK:  West Blvd. and Beacon Street;  Who Chained the Dogs Up?  

      At the corner of West Blvd. and Ash you'll notice
      a colorful transformation -- a run-down, crime-ridden
      complex of about 16 duplexes next to West Blvd. Elementary School that's gradually becoming Stonegate Cottages, the latest project of Beacon Street Properties' proprietors Jeff, Scott, Kara, and Dwight Linnemeyer.   Associated with First Tier Realtors and Assured Property Management, Beacon Street Properties is a two-year-old residential developer with other projects at Old Hawthorne and Eastport Village.  
      The humane society won't have to wait for help: an organization that advocates for laws against chaining dogs has opened shop in Columbia.  Dogs Deserve Better intends to introduce legislative ideas at the county and city level for strict ordinances prohibiting the cruel practice.  "Anti-chain laws are becoming common around the country," said local representative Melody Whitworth.  "Leaving an animal on a chain in 100 degree weather with no food, no water, and no attention is about the cruelest thing an owner can do."  Whitworth said her organization also takes calls from people who want to report the practice, which is a common ploy among drug dealers protecting their turf.  "It's almost cliche to see the pit bull chained up in the yard of a dealer," she said.  Dogs Deserve Better will personally visit homes with chained animals, attempt to educate the owners, and if all else fails, "doggedly pursue" animal control and the SPCA to have the dogs removed.  For more information, contact Whitworth at 877-636-1408 or email powerofthepaw@... .  On the web at http://www.dogsdeservebetter.com
      PARRY PANS:  Missourian Staff
      Arguing that University of Missouri curators should spare the money losing Columbia Missourian newspaper, Inside Columbia publisher Fred Parry instead took the paper's editors to task.  "Perhaps the No. 1 reason why the Missourian has failed to remain commercially viable is the failure of the journalism faculty to keep the editorial content of the newspaper relevant to the evolving needs of its local readership," Parry wrote in his publication's September edition. 
      "Insiders at the school will tell you that the news editorial faculty's stronghold on the Missourian has kept the newspaper from progressing," he added.  "They insist that the newspaper's editorial direction has been subject to the whims and wishes of a faculty that is out of touch with the modern-day newsroom."
      KENNEDY CANS:  Visioning Process
      Speaking of the Missourian,  op-ed writer George Kennedy recently tackled the city's stalled and stilted visioning process.   "If the citizens leave visioning to the professionals, if we don't sustain our involvement and even our nagging, we're likely to wind up with a document instead of a vision," Kennedy wrote.  "The difference between the two would be the difference between enforcing the building code and redeveloping downtown."

      After visiting a sparsely-attended visioning showcase, Kennedy walked away more discouraged than inspired.  "I came away from that first gathering nearly two years ago thinking that I'd seen the best of Columbia. This thing just might work, I thought. Thursday I went home less inspired and more worried.  Where was everybody?  Has visioning become just another assignment for the staff? I hope not."

      ROPER RAMS:  Overlay Ordinance

      Trib pundit Bob Roper once again spilled ink over his disdain for the North Central Columbia Overlay, a brainchild of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association (NCCNA) leadership that Roper says would "proscribe certain legal businesses" and force "any change in property through a design review board."   Area business owners, seeking their own breakaway republic, want to form "their own neighborhood association -- the North Central Columbia Business District or the East North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association." 

      Ad Sheet owner and North Central businessman Larry Grossmann "said the new organization has the support of the owners of about 91 percent of the square footage of the entire district and about 84 percent of the property owners."  Roper predicts a never-ending duel between the two parties, noting that "NCCNA seems too big to me, which has likely contributed to the diverging views because of the lack of a community of interest in the whole 300 acres.  Given the foregoing, it appears to me that the real problem here is that the members of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association do not truly represent the interests residing therein." 
      "I hope the council will just say no to this proposal at its Oct. 6 meeting and then initiate a good and thorough review of the legal framework involving neighborhood and business associations," he concludes. 

      Overlay presents interesting challenges



      Nominate an individual, family, group or organization for the 12th Annual Columbia Values Diversity Awards, presented at the Columbia Values Diversity Celebration on Thursday, January 15, 2009. 
      Nomination forms can be accessed on the Office of Community Services web site:
      The deadline for the award nominations is 12:00 Noon on Friday, November 28, 2008.
      Columbia Parents for Real Math invites you to

      "Parent Math Night"
      Thursday, October 2, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm
      The Loft at Broadway Christian Church
      2601 W. Broadway

      This evening is an opportunity for parents to be able to talk to each other to share strategies for making sure their students are achieving to their highest potential in mathematics.  Local math tutors will also be on hand to answer questions.  Given the recent decision by Columbia Public Schools to change the math curriculum, we will also be discussing the transition to the new curriculum and how parents can help.  Parents with students at all grade levels are invited to attend.  The format of the evening will be an open house, with a brief welcome at 6:30 pm. And you should be home in time to watch the Vice Presidential debate at 8 pm!   Questions?   Call Michelle Pruitt 446-6279

      Dan and Melinda Hemmelgarn have just finished a 2009
      calendar called Farm Hands -- A Tribute to the Hands that Feed Us.   "Over the past year, Dan and I met with 12 farmers; Dan shot the photographs while I did the interviews," Hemmelgarn says.

      You can get a sneak peek of Dan's images on line at:

      Calendars are on sale now at the Columbia Farmers' Market on Clinkscales behind the ARC on Saturday mornings during market hours: 8:00 a.m. till noon.  ALL proceeds go to the Farmers' Market Pavilion Fund.  "Dan and I will be at the market to sign calendars on October 4th between 9 and 11 a.m.  We will also have them for sale at the Slow Food Fundraising event on November 1st at the Orr St. Studios from 7 to 9 p.m."

      3rd Annual Chinese Dumpling Festival
      Thursday, October 9, 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. @ Forum Blvd. Christian Church, 3900 Forum Blvd.
      Adult $20, Children under 12 $12  Family and Friends Special, $150/table (10 tickets, $50 discount)

      A 7-course meal served family style.  Menu includes appetizers, dumplings (of course!), meat and vegetable dishes, desserts and
      beverages.  All proceeds go to support cultural, educational and economic exchange activities between Columbia and its Sister City Laoshan, and to promote Chinese language and cultural events in Mid-MO.

      Tickets and questions, contact:  Hsiao-Mei Wiedmeyer at wiedmeyer2@... or 573-808-6307, or Leslie Sapp at
      sapplj@... or 573-356-9609.  http://friendsofchina.missouri.org/
      Monday - Friday, October 20-24 

      Join the Youth Community Coalition and the City of Columbia for "Plant the Promise" - a project to plant over 1000 red tulip bulbs in central Columbia this fall to be enjoyed by the community in spring 2009. 

      Participating in this project by you and area youth will be a demonstration of your commitment to be drug and alcohol free.

      * Assist youth after school the week of Oct. 20-24.
      * Property owners in central Columbia can offer sites where bulbs can
      be planted.

      For more info contact Becky Markt, YC2, bmarkt@... or Leigh Britt, City of Columbia Volunteer Services, volunteer@... 

      Boone County Republicans Annual Chili Supper
      Friday, October 10th Elks Lodge, Columbia  (4747 E. Elk Park Drive)
      Doors open at 5 P.M.  Program begins at 6 P.M.  Meet Boone County's Republican candidates.
      Live auctions throughout the night
      Special Guest Emcee: Brock Olivo, who is a former University of Missouri football star, current business owner, and was a candidate for the 9th Congressional District Republican nomination this year.  Tickets: $12.00/person in advance; $15/person at the door; Children 3 and under free.

      This SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4, 4th Ward councilman Jerry Wade will be at the Rendezvous Coffeehouse from 8:00a to 10:00 to talk to anyone who would like to visit.   PLEASE NOTE THE TIME CHANGE.

      The Rendezvous Coffeehouse is at 3304 Broadway Business Park Ct., which is on the south side of West Broadway west of HyVee.


      MORTGAGE/HOUSING NEWSFrom Bank of Missouri's Tom Stone
      We are in historic times.  Check out this weeks newsletter for some insight.

      Tom Stone
      The Bank of Missouri
      Asst. Vice President

      Mike Martin 
      Member:  National Press Club  (www.press.org)

      The Columbia Heart Beat
      Circulation:   Roughly 4,800
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