On Tuesday evening, 12 of your neighbors gathered in the offices of the Columbia Missourian to talk about what matters to them, what Columbia most needs and what they wish their community newspaper would do differently.
That is exactly why we invited them there.
The gathering marked the first meeting of the Missourian's new Readers Board. Tom Warhover wrote to you last month about what the Readers Board is all about and how it has been valuable to him and the newsroom.
We're eager to work with this new slate of volunteers, and are so grateful to them for making time to improve the work we do.
Wayne Behymer, 73, is a graduate of MU and moved to Columbia from Macon when he was in the third grade. He attended a one-room rural elementary school, then Jefferson Junior High School, and graduated from Hickman High School in 1956. Wayne’s careers include several years as a computer systems analyst and many years as a life insurance agent. He has been active in numerous volunteer activities and is currently involved in the Boonslick Kiwanis Club, Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Relay for Life, Woodhaven Learning Center and Olivet Christian Church. He is married to Jo Haden Behymer.
Barbara Buffaloe, 31, is the City of Columbia's first Sustainability Manager. She began the position in February 2010 and manages the City's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant activities — which focus on improving energy efficiency in city-owned facilities. Besides being the annoying person in the office telling people to turn lights off when they leave a room and to stop printing emails, she also enjoys being a cheerleader for Columbia and talking with different civic groups about the great quality of life Columbia has to offer its citizens.
Melissa Fritts, 24, has lived in Columbia since 2005 when she arrived for her freshman year at MU. She graduated in 2011 with her Master's in Social Work and is currently a social worker at Rain, a social service agency in Columbia. She is an associate staff member in her local church, The Rock, which meets on campus at MU.
Kate Gunn, 27, is a Regional Development Officer for MU focused on connecting with alumni on the east coast. She holds an undergraduate degree in business marketing from MU and a master's degree in strategic leadership from Stephens College. Kate is also the executive director of Artrageous Fridays and serves the Columbia community through numerous other boards and organizations.
David Harris, 69, works as an MU event staffer in the Athletics Department. He also belongs to the Missouri University Track and Field Officials Association, of which he was president for three years. David is interested in all things happening in his community. He was an officer of his subdivision homeowners association and a graduate of the city's Neighborhood Leadership Program.
Mary Lehmann, 85, lives in Columbia. She studied plant physiology at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Mary was an editor and publisher at Ladybug Magazine. She is continuing to follow her lifelong interest in the environment as it affects the quality of life. She feels it is more urgent than ever to begin a gradual turn-around to using less energy, as the findings of science and common sense indicate it is necessary for sustainable civilization. Mary has three children and three grandchildren. She moved to Columbia a few years ago from Austin, Texas.
William E. "Gene" Robertson, an MU community development professor emeritus, has written editorial columns for both local newspapers over the years. According to a Columbia Heart Beat leadership profile, he "consistently argues that the highest charge of human life — our prime directive, as it were — is to do the right thing." Also according to the profile, he has "spent the better part of the last decade writing about social justice in Columbia," including improvements to the Police Review Board, protection of disabled Veterans and young people, and argueing against racial inequities.
Roy Robinson, 74, graduated from MU in 1961. He spent the major part of his career with State Farm Insurance in a variety of management positions. He is active in the choir at Missouri United Methodist Church. He and his wife travel a good deal and love Missouri sports.
Steve Spellman, 37, is an MU College of Business graduate. He works for Central Trust & Investment Company, the wealth management affiliate of Boone County National Bank in downtown Columbia. He occasionally submits guest editorials to the Missourian on a wide range of topics, such as: parking garages, education and … cicada ice cream. Steve hosts “The Mid-Missouri Freedom Forum” on 89.5FM KOPN radio with former First Ward council candidate Mitch Richards, where they explore the many diverse aspects of human freedom each Tuesday from 5-6 p.m. His interests include economics, politics, faith issues and bicycling.
Marcia Walker, 68, is the executive director of Meals on Wheels of Columbia. She cares about various social services in the community. Marcia is active in her church and volunteers at various community and sporting events. She speaks to more than 100 volunteers every week who represent a huge cross section of the community from students to retirees; together they discuss politics, community events and world events.
Julia Williams, 58, of Columbia, owns two small businesses. She received a bachelor's degree in English literature from MU in 1976. She is an active member in the Bourn Avenue Neighborhood Association. However, a study in comparative religions with modern social applications is her finest interest.
Scott Wilson, 37, is a trial attorney and Partner at The Hines Law Firm in Columbia. He graduated from MU and the MU School of Law. In addition, he has served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters and several other organizations. Scott is a huge Missouri sports fan and a self-admitted “news junkie” and politico.