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Good things happening in Columbia

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:31 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I’m of the opinion that it’s always a good time to live in Columbia, but right now Tiger country should be more proud of our fine city than usual. Too often, it seems bad news is the highlight of the day, but this past weekend was different. Columbia deserves a big shout out for all the good things happening.

It was announced Sunday that the Central Missouri Humane Society had won Zootoo’s Shelter Makeover contest. The announcement was a surprise as it came a day earlier than previously expected.

Dave Muscato, a volunteer for the humane society, said in a Facebook message he sent out Sunday night that the Columbia facility won by “a wide margin.” The makeover will be able to address the “decrepit, 31-year-old building with drainage, flooding, and ventilation problems, not even counting the overcrowding from 7,500+ animals each year,” Muscato said.

A big thanks to everyone who participated in the voting and came out to support CMHS while ZooToo officials were in town. Also, great job to Amanda Huhman and Libby Burks, the girls responsible for raising awareness. If you are interested in seeing what all your voting and support is accomplishing, join the mailing list at CMHSmakeover.com to receive updates.

The Central Missouri Humane Society will be holding a town hall meeting on May 12 to discuss plans. Maria Furey, president of the humane society's board of directors, told the Missourian: "It’s definitely setting us on a path this year that we didn’t expect taking, but in 2010 I think what you’re going to see is a new humane society that’s going to serve our community better."

The humane society isn’t the only thing getting a face lift. According to Leigh Britt, volunteer coordinator for the city of Columbia, about 1,700 volunteers collected more than 2,149 bags of trash for the 13th annual Cleanup Columbia event on Saturday. More than 162 groups registered for the cleanup, making it the largest registration in the event’s history. 

I find it astounding that in only a year’s time, Columbians managed to accumulate that much trash on and around our roadways. This should be a wake-up call to all of us. We need to focus on recycling and not taking the lazy way out by throwing our garbage out our windows.

The most frequent articles my group found during the cleanup were cigarette butts, empty cigarette cartons, beer bottles and fast food containers. If we could stop littering with just these items, there would be half as many trash bags filled next year.

As Britt told me, when you’re driving along the street, you might see a little bit of trash and think there isn’t a problem. But once you actually get out and clean up all that trash, you start to wonder what might happen to that trash if you hadn’t been there to pick it up. Could it find its way to a stream or potentially harm wildlife?

Cleanup Columbia is a great way to teach your children about the effects of littering. If we can give them firsthand experience at an early age, maybe we can educate the next generation and make Columbia a cleaner community.

The outpouring of volunteering isn’t the only cause for celebration. As many of you know, this has been quite the week for football fans. Missouri led the Big 12 with six players drafted, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1981, when seven Tigers were drafted.

Jeremy Maclin is headed to the Eagles, William Moore will go to Atlanta and Evander Hood will be in Pittsburgh. Colin Brown will get to play for the team he grew up watching, the Kansas City Chiefs. Chase Coffman is headed to the Bengals and Stryker Sulak was selected by Oakland in the sixth round. Gary Pinkel has now seen a total of 16 of his players drafted to the NFL.

Chase Daniel was not selected but did sign a free agent deal with the Redskins. Also signing a free agent deal was Brock Christopher, who will be in Atlanta with Moore.

Chase Patton has good things going for him as well. As he said in a Twitter update on April 27, “Tryout with the Bears next weekend. God is good!”

Yes, lots of good things are happening around Columbia. It's great to live in a town where so many people care about what's going on in their community. I've been reading about school shootings, swine flu and earthquakes in Mexico for the past few days; recessions and unemployment for the past few months. Although those stories are necessary, they're depressing and I'm tired of all the bad news. It's nice to hear about good things happening close to home.

Tracy Barnes graduated from MU in 2008 with degrees in journalism and English. She is a former copy editor and multimedia editor for the Missourian. She can be contacted at tracylbarnes@gmail.com.

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