Census appearance cements independence for Pierpont

Friday, February 25, 2011 | 5:30 p.m. CST; updated 10:01 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 26, 2011
The U.S. Census Bureau released Missouri's 2010 Census results to the public Thursday. The results show an increase in total population for five of Boone County's smaller towns. Ashland almost doubled its population since 2000.

PIERPONT — The laws of Columbia don’t apply to Pierpont resident Ken Horn.

“I’ve got a 55-gallon drum I burn trash in — that’d be illegal in Columbia,” Horn said. “The freedom. That’s why I moved out here in the first place.”

A rural village with a population of 76, Pierpont sits at the intersection of Route N and Highway 163 a few miles south of Columbia. It’s the first time the village’s official population has been known, as Pierpont was not in the Missouri census until 2010’s numbers were released Thursday.

Back in 2004, Columbia’s expanding city limits encroached on Pierpont, which feared annexation. No more burning trash or shooting firearms. But longtime resident Justin John had no interest in surrendering the village’s freedom to Columbia ordinances. John fronted a board of five trustees who officially incorporated Pierpont as a village on Nov. 4, 2004.

“Nobody out here wanted to be in Columbia, so we got busy,” John said.

The village’s appearance on the census makes official the work done to keep Pierpont independent. Referred to as “mayor,” John is chairman of Pierpont's Board of Trustees for what he made a point to call a legitimate government entity.

“We do the same thing that the Columbia City Council does, just on a smaller scale,” John said.

A half-cent sales tax generates enough revenue for the village to comfortably function. This is collected at the Pierpont Store, the village’s central hub and only public business. Some residents meet at the store in the morning, sharing coffee and talking over breakfast. John said the store, reportedly 185 years old, embodies the village's identity.

And if you're driving through, that's probably all you're going to notice of Pierpont. A wooden house with old-school gas pumps and formed plastic signs out front.

So why keep Columbia out? Why not, John said. Residents remain only minutes away from the rest of Columbia and a trip down Highway 63 from Ashland and Jefferson City. Because Pierpont is on a state road, Boone County supplies electricity, water and fire department. The village even sees an influx of game-day traffic when the MU football team plays.

It’s the perfect balance of privacy and moderate isolation for John and the other 75 people there.

“Pierpont is like a residential neighborhood that everybody really enjoys, and that’s the way we want to keep it,” John said. “If you want to live in Columbia, go live in Columbia."

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John Schultz February 25, 2011 | 6:03 p.m.

Boone County doesn't provide electricity or water to Pierpont (or anywhere else, for that matter). I imagine the vendors are Boone Electric and a public water district.

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear February 25, 2011 | 8:08 p.m.

And there in lies the problem.

All the people that want to live in the county, but work in the city, use the city roads, parks, resources, and other infrastructure, but don't pay taxes to the city to help maintain them.

From the article:
--So why keep Columbia out? Why not, John said. Residents remain only minutes away from the rest of Columbia--

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire February 25, 2011 | 8:19 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
John Schultz February 25, 2011 | 10:06 p.m.

Yves, the city collects sales tax on the purchases I make in the city, including sales taxes specifically enacted to fund roads and parks. I also pay property taxes to the library that you may visit, as well as the county fire department that may pull you from a mangled car, and the school district I have no children in at this time. Next dig please.

(Report Comment)
Yves Montclear February 25, 2011 | 11:42 p.m.

And if you don't make any purchases in the city, who funds your joy car ride, and that picnic at the park, then?

You'd pay a lot more taxes if you lived in Columbia.

You are a parasite, basically.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 26, 2011 | 1:03 p.m.

I guess you're forgetting about the state-built and maintained roads inside Columbia that people in other counties contributed to the state fund? Do you make purchases in every county and city you visit? But that would make you a parasite as well. Can the attitude and sell it on eBay.

(Report Comment)

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