Naturalists program combines outdoors study, volunteerism

Mid-Missourians who want to expand their knowledge of the natural world will have the opportunity through a new program being offered this fall.

The Master Naturalist program, sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the University of Missouri Extension, is a nine-week course in ecology and natural history. Participants who complete the course, which includes 40 hours of class sessions and field trips, eight hours of advanced training in a specific field and 40 hours of volunteer service, can be certified as master naturalists.

Flat Branch Park plans to add a water plaza

Columbia’s Flat Branch Park may get a little more interactive.

Mike Snyder, park planner for Columbia Parks and Recreation, said the plan is to create a water plaza with fountains that children can play in. Often called “spray-grounds,” the fountain will feature water that shoots out in designs, such as arches. Plans include smaller fountains for children who may not like playing in the larger fountain. The plaza will be constructed with brick or cobblestone, which Snyder said will be more attractive in winter, when the water is turned off.

Bird’s-eye view of Boone

New aerial maps available online can help Boone County residents find a new home or a piece of property. The maps can be found at, where users can type in an address, zoom in and out on a particular parcel, identify who owns the property, measure distances and print the maps at no cost.

The aerial photos of Boone County were taken in March 2002 to assist local government officials. But, since becoming available to the public Feb. 6, the photos have also helped local realtors, surveyors and title companies research property and tax information.


A map on page 8A Wednesday showing Columbia College’s campuses omitted the Jefferson City campus.

A story in Wednesday’s Missourian incorrectly implied that the smoke detectors in older residence halls are not hardwired, as opposed to battery operated. Smoke detectors in all campus residence halls are hardwired.

Suite Living

Beginning Aug. 15, students will move into four new residence halls, named for the four core values. They are MU’s first since the completion of Gillett Hall in 1967. Construction costs totaled about $45 million; a little over $35 million was paid by Residential Life. Campus Dining Services, which will operate Plaza 900, the dining facility, contributed a little more than $9 million.

Local Democrats set up headquarters

One morning in early June, a truck driver parked his rig in the middle of Walnut Street. While traffic backed up behind the truck, the driver ran into Columbia’s Democratic headquarters and requested two John Kerry bumper stickers.

Providing bumper stickers, yard signs and general information about the Democratic candidates are some of the functions of the headquarters, said Bill Clark, a volunteer at the Boone County Democratic Central Committee office in Columbia.

Shoppers face inconsistent sales tax breaks

JEFFERSON CITY — Shoppers looking for back-to-school bargains could save more in some parts of Missouri than others due to the patchwork application of a sales tax break next month.

Under a one-time state law, Missouri will waive its sales tax Aug. 13-15 for school-related items such as clothes, backpacks and computers. But cities, counties and other tax districts can choose to charge their local sales taxes anyway. And many will be doing so.

County awards service funds

After one amendment to increase funding possibilities for Centro Latino, the Boone County Community Services Advisory Commission approved its 2005 funding recommendations Tuesday night. Five commissioners favored the plan, two opposed and one abstained.

The decision came after a public hearing held by the commission about its recommendations for social service funding. More than $21,000 in new money was available to social service agencies this year, for a total of $843,350. Thirty-eight agencies made requests totaling $988,976. Therefore, some commission recommendations were for significantly less money than what agencies had requested.

Building locations checked by EPA

Inspectors from the Environmental Protection Agency last week scrutinized eight area construction sites, including the Bass Pro Shops on Vandiver Drive.

Inspectors Lorenzo Sena and Margie St. Germain visited the sites to ensure developers are sticking to federal standards for storm water management.

Future of median on Range Line debated

Following the Missouri Department of Transportation’s decision to postpone approving plans for construction on Range Line Street at the request of property owners, the North Columbia League adopted its own formal plan Tuesday to present to MoDOT.

The North Columbia League, an association of business and property owners with frontage along Range Line, was initially formed to lobby the government to accelerate expansion and improvement of Range Line. Now that those improvements are on the horizon, the league wants to ensure the work has a positive impact on the area, league Chairman Cris Burnam said.

Device eases seizure severity

Twenty-year-old epileptic Michelle Botteron of California, Mo., used to have 20 to 30 seizures a day. The number of seizures was reduced to less than half following a one-hour outpatient surgery.

With two minor incisions, Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy was attached to a wire that is connected to the vagus nerve in the left side of the neck. VNS therapy works through a small pacemaker-like device that is implanted under a muscle in the chest, said Dr. Nitin Patel, pediatric neurologist at University Hospital. VNS therapy helps to reduce the strength and the number of seizures a patient would normally experience.

Columbia College crosses borders

Before Columbia College began offering classes in January, the City Colleges of Chicago had a campus in Guantanamo Bay, offering associate degrees. The Navy, however, wanted an institution that could offer both associate and bachelor’s degree programs on the base, so last July Navy officials asked Columbia College if the college would consider coming to the island. Columbia College officials didn’t hesitate.

Microchips make finding pets easier

Columbia pet owners are taking advantage of microchip technology, invented by AVID Microchip Identification Systems, which reunites one pet with its owner every 72 seconds nationwide. The company’s PETtrac pet recovery network receives 4,000 to 6,000 calls per week, AVID spokesman Loran Hickton said.

Family of shooting victim sues security company

Some of the victim’s families from the July 1, 2003, shooting at the Modine Manufacturing Co. are seeking restitution.

According to court documents, plaintiffs Brandy Jackson and Michael Wilson, the children of Terry Wilson, are suing Burns Security, now called Securitas, for negligence in failing to provide proper security, which resulted in the wrongful death of their father. The trial is set for Oct. 17, 2005.

Downtown tour helps others eat

One of the greatest frustrations of getting together with a group of friends for a meal is picking a place to eat. Consensus is hard to reach when the members of the group each crave something different.

The Central Columbia Association is offering a temporary solution. On Thursday night, the organization is putting on its third annual “Dinner in the District,” where food enthusiasts will be able to sample menus from 16 of the 70 restaurants and bars in downtown Columbia.

On the big screen

Phyllis Ward came to the Missouri Theatre Monday night with a Popsicle to help fend off the sweltering heat. She had one goal in mind when she arrived two hours early for the screening of “Killer Diller.” Ward wanted to see herself on the big screen.

“When we were filming, the director said she was impressed with the way I rolled my eyes,” Ward said as she waited outside for the doors to open. “So I’m really excited; my sons and I are definitely hoping to catch a glimpse.”

City clerk certifies marijuana initiatives

Two initiatives to reduce punishments for misdemeanor marijuana possession took another step toward becoming law last week while a third initiative dealing with the purchase of “green” energy took a step back.

The two marijuana initiatives were certified by City Clerk Sheela Amin, but the energy initiative was 138 signatures short. However, it still has a chance to go before the Columbia City Council. Amin said petitioners had 10 days from the time they were informed of the shortage to collect the needed amount of signatures. The deadline is Sunday.

Users of 911 find language to be a hurdle

A Hispanic caller phoned 911 to report a fire at an apartment complex on Thursday, but what emergency personnel on the other end heard were strings of confusing, broken English. They knew the location of the caller but could not determine whether he had a police or fire emergency. Both departments were sent to the scene, said Donna Hargis, operations coordinator for joint communications.

When firefighters arrived they saw heavy smoke coming from the front window of the four-plex. However, they were able to determine that everyone in the building had escaped. Conversation with the occupants of the four-plex proved to be difficult, Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said.

Heating up Missouri

ST. LOUIS — A wave of steamy weather descending on Missouri has prompted forecasters to issue a heat advisory through today from the St. Louis area west to Columbia.

Mid-Missourians felt the sultry heat after a new daily rainfall record for Monday of 1.69 inches in Columbia, said Arno Perlow with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

Rain destroys gate guarding bats

A heavy rainstorm in March caused extensive damage to the $50,000 gate erected at an entrance to Boone Cave to protect two endangered species of bats.

“It was one of those good old heavy Missouri rains,” said Tim James, a Missouri Department of Conservation biologist. “The damage was caused by a combination of the way the water and the debris were coming through the slots in the gate.”