Missouri town threatens to sue local plant over foul odor

CARTHAGE — Leaders in this small southwest Missouri community are threatening to sue a local plant because of a foul odor they say is hurting the town’s quality of life.

“We’ve had it,” Carthage Mayor Kenneth Johnson said of the smell many believe is coming from the Renewable Environmental Solutions plant.

A Life on Stage

To those who knew him, Jerome Wheeler was the consummate collaborator — a songwriter, musician and playwright others found impossible to turn down. At the time of his death on Feb. 20 of congestive heart failure, Wheeler was involved in several projects, including a plan to document on video the music and culture of the mid-Missouri river community.

But at a memorial service at Unity Center four days after he died, Wheeler’s 27-year-old daughter, Ruby, spoke about his role as a father. This was a change of pace for Wheeler’s friends and creative partners, who knew little about his family life. But as Ruby made clear, Wheeler’s dedication to the arts often came at the expense of his children and wife, whom he divorced in 1991.

Catching up with local artists


William Helvey’s interest in art began when he was required to take a fine arts class at Mount Vernon High School. Helvey came to Columbia in 1967 and exhibited his first solo show three years later. Helvey’s work has been featured in more than 80 solo exhibits. Recently retired from his position of state communications director/director of media center at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Helvey, 62, still teaches art classes at the Columbia Art League and from his personal studio.

First adventure in son’s plane will be the last

Last week my out-of-town son called to say the weather was perfect for a ride in his airplane. He has had this tiny aircraft for about two years. And although several family members have taken a ride, my husband and I have remained adamant: No way were we going to go up in a machine that could be loaded in the back of our pickup. My son didn’t even try to persuade my husband. He knew how much his father hated flying in big jumbo jets; there was no way he would ever strap himself into a plane that he towered over. But my son kept trying to reason with me, saying something about how safe the aircraft was and how more people die on the highways, blah, blah, blah. But I didn’t relent. My son said I was a wuss, and I agreed.

The call came on Friday. My husband and I were at the lake, where he works one day a week. My son dangled a carrot to entice me — a flight over the house we are building.

A fire away from disaster

Just before dawn on May 8, 1999, a fire broke out on the third floor of the Sigma Chi fraternity house on South College Avenue. The blaze was ignited by a candle in a shoebox lid that had been placed at the opening of a tiny enclosed loft in which two students were sleeping.

Columbia firefighters responded to the alarm at 4:57 a.m. and, within 20 minutes, had extinguished the fire. That wasn’t quick enough to save Dominic Passantino. While his roommate scrambled to safety, the freshman from Leawood, Kan., was trapped by the flames. He died of smoke inhalation.

Enlightened Generation

Barbara Condron knows this world is heading toward peace and happiness, and she knows how it’s going to get there — through the grace of an emerging generation of children born in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Condron is a member of the faculty at the College of Metaphysics in Windyville and author of “How to Raise an Indigo Child: 10 Keys for Cultivating Your Child’s Natural Brilliance,” in which she describes children who seem to have greater capacities of intuition, talent, intelligence and creativity than their peers.

Taking a different angle by making math a game

David Moore, 11, and his friend, Mason Nistendirk, 11, were getting stickers to put on the cards around their necks.

“That was fun,” David said to Mason about the math game that involved pulling plastic eggs with Velcro off a poster board.

Restaurant owners welcome prospect of sidewalk alcohol sales

As the weather warms, restaurants in The District will start to open outdoor dining areas. Coinciding with some of the recent balmy weather, the Columbia City Council on Monday introduced an ordinance that would permit the sale of alcoholic beverages on sidewalks in front of restaurants and cafes.

Carrie Gartner, director of the Columbia Special Business District, said the ordinance would boost business and foster the type of outdoor atmosphere that makes the downtown a fun place to be.

Small salary draws big focus

Today’s issue of Parade magazine, the annual survey of “What People Earn” includes a face familiar to anyone who knows anything about the Latino community in Columbia — that of Eduardo Crespi, director of the Centro Latino.

Parade says “What People Earn” is one of its most popular articles among readers. But when the phone rang in Crespi’s office, he didn’t know what they were talking about.

Fifth Ward focuses on growth, planning

Candidates for the Fifth Ward seat on Columbia’s City Council discussed issues including city growth, a proposed no-smoking ordinance and Missouri’s Sunshine Law at the Columbia Public Library on Saturday. An audience of about 15 residents attended the forum sponsored by the Trail Ridge-Greenbriar Neighborhood Association.

Laura Nauser, a real estate closing officer; Gayle Troutwine, an attorney; and Joseph Vradenburg, an epidemiologist; are running for election April 5 to fill outgoing city Fifth Ward Councilman John John’s seat.

Bike group pushes for Katy to cross state

The Katy Trail’s 225 miles of hiking and biking paths cut through the heart of Missouri from St. Charles to Clinton. If the Missouri Bicycle Federation has its way, the trail might soon grow west another 75 miles into Kansas City.

That prospect excited Judy Knudson, 63, an active Columbia cyclist whose initial rides on the Katy Trail led to two cross-country biking trips as well as a two-wheel jaunt through France’s Loire Valley.

Residents escape fire that claims pets

Four family pets — three cats and a dog — died in a fire early Thursday morning in the 5400 block of Arrowwood Drive. The fire, which started in the garage, caused an estimated $100,000 in damage, including the total loss of a vehicle inside, fire officials said.

Shortly after midnight, a neighbor noticed fire coming from the garage and called 911, according to a press release from the Columbia Fire Department. The owner of the house and her grandson were both in bed when the fire began. Smoke detectors woke them and they were able to safely evacuate the house before fire crews arrived at scene.

State unemployment declines, but still above national average

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s unemployment rate dropped in February but remained above the national average, the state Department of Economic Development said.

Missouri’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell last month to 5.7 percent, the same as it was in December. The national rate last month was 5.4 percent.

Fund-raiser to benefit music teacher

Melissa Guillotte is 22 and a first-year teacher. She started teaching music at Grant Elementary School at the beginning of the school year. In August, she married Andrew Guillotte. In December, she graduated from MU. In February, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Next week, she will have surgery to remove the tumor.

This shocking and difficult news has brought together fellow teachers, students and their parents in a cooperative support effort. In two and a half weeks, a committee of parents planned “Dinner for a Song,” a dinner, silent auction and raffle to raise money to help Guillotte with her medical and living expenses.

Art league showcases winning selections

Works by the winners of the Columbia Art League’s first juried Intercollegiate Showcase went on display on Tuesday at the league’s exhibit space on Ninth Street.

It was the first show open to all mid-Missouri colleges.

Golf course moves ahead

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted on Thursday night to recommend that the City Council approve an amended version of a rezoning proposal for a 110-acre property on Clark Lane, east of Ballenger Place.

Plans for the property include an 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, fitness center with hot tub and tanning beds as well as 700 apartment units and up to 1,400 parking spaces. The commission’s amendments called for upping the minimum green space requirement from 15 percent to 50 percent and requiring a traffic study.

School grant fuels cornucopia

Six-year-old Dreisha Brown scrunched up her face and wiped her hands on her shirt after touching pig lungs wrapped in plastic wrap. The Eugene Field Elementary School kindergartner said the lungs felt “gooey.”

Once the children had their chance to touch the lungs, their instructor turned the organs around to show them where the heart had been connected. The whole room cried out in unison, “Eeewww.”

Public works director retiring

Columbia Public Works Director Lowell Patterson will retire after serving 19 years as director of the city’s largest department and presiding over a period of tremendous growth.

City Manager Ray Beck announced Patterson’s retirement on Thursday. Patterson will remain in the position until May 11. He turns 62 this month.

New home featured on reality show

Sherry Hampton threw open the door of her 884-square-foot Habitat for Humanity home, finding a host of friends and neighbors gathered to congratulate her on the front lawn. She then went back inside and did it again. And again. And again.

Only in the world of reality TV would Hampton have to reenact this scene for cameras, appearing surprised every time. For this shot, the tenth time was the charm.

Proposal aims to relax farm notifications

JEFFERSON CITY — Rural Missourians could be surprised to see chicken or pig barns being built next door under legislation endorsed on Thursday by the Senate. The bill would lessen public notification requirements for all but the largest livestock producers.

The bill also would prohibit counties from enacting local ordinances that surpass the state’s restrictions on animal feeding operations.