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Dog park users request more shade, trash cans and seating in survey
 Katharine Finnerty  / 

Second Ward Councilman Mike Trapp is all about dog parks. Prompted by a report on visitors’ perceptions of the parks that drew mostly ho-hum reactions from his City Council colleagues, Trapp extolled the virtues of dog parks and entertained the idea of establishing a fourth one with amenities that could charge an annual membership fee.

The council accepted the 124-page report by MU graduate student Lily Bennett, completed under the direction of Sonja Wilhem Stanis, interim associate director of the School of Natural Resources, during its Monday night meeting.

Bennett worked with the Parks and Recreation Department to conduct the yearlong study of Columbia’s three main fenced dog parks, at Twin Lakes Recreation Area, Garth Nature Area and Indian Hills Park. Columbia also has two unfenced leash-free areas for dogs: one at Grindstone Nature Area, and another at Cosmo Park-Bear Creek Nature Area.

Bennett’s report highlighted public enthusiasm for the parks but also the need for improvements.

Bennett surveyed 210 dog park users and received 180 responses. She found that 44% of dog owners would be willing to pay $25 or less per year if the city were to add amenities to the parks. But 25% of respondents said they opposed any fees.

Trapp, who has a cocker spaniel-bichon frisé mix called Fido, was enthusiastic about the topic at Monday’s meeting. He said in the early days of his career in local politics he visited the Garth Nature Area dog park a few blocks north of his house to do informal research with what he called his “brain trust” on issues important to voters.

“I may be the foremost proponent of dog parks,” Trapp said. “It’s been a big part of my political life, and I’ve seen the great development at primarily Garth Nature Area dog park.”

Trapp said he had discussed the report with other dog park users and heard about the need for more amenities.

“I think having a higher-amenity dog park with a membership fee might be appropriate for the next great dog park that we add to our system,” he said.

Trapp suggested a dog park monitor to help regulate aggressive dogs, which was among the most frequent worries expressed by dog owners in Bennett’s survey.

Trapp said that some dog owners talk to their dogs as if they’re children and need a little help controlling their pets “because (for) a lot of folks, their animal companions are their family.”

On Tuesday afternoon at Garth Nature Area, Sean Lee and Suzy Hill said they were reluctant to take their dog, Koopa, a beagle, to other parks because of the aggressiveness of some dogs. They said they appreciated being able to see everything from all angles at Garth Nature Area.

Dog park visitors also told Bennett they would like to see more shade, maintenance, secure fencing, benches, lights, landscaping and trash cans.

That was Aurora Costin’s only complaint about Twin Lakes, which she visits with her dog Thia, a Rottweiler. She said they love the park but that the trash containers are always full.

Dog owner Sam Lutke said she was happy with Columbia’s dog parks. “We’re lucky to have (Twin Lakes),” she said, adding that it was much better than parks she had been to in St. Louis and elsewhere.

On Tuesday, Jack Weakly was at the Garth Nature Area dog park with his American pit bull mix, Simba. He said he, too, preferred the Garth park over Twin Lakes because it’s more compact.

“I come to this one so I can keep an eye on him while I just sit,” Weakly said.

Dog owners at Garth Nature Area said they weren’t strongly opposed to paying a small fee, especially if the proceeds were spent on the dog parks.

“It would definitely lessen the amount that I come,” Weakly said, “but I would probably still come every once in a while.”

The staff memo to the City Council said the Parks and Recreation Department is exploring whether to add amenities to existing dog parks or create a fourth one with more amenities and an annual membership fee.

The report will be shared with the Parks and Recreation Commission on Thursday.

Jeffrey Zide and Chloe Khaw contributed to this report.

Armond Feffer / 

Armond Feffer


‘Bones’ Johnson sets up a ride called the Swingman in the Boone County Fair carnival

“Bones” Johnson sets up a ride called the Swingman at the Boone County Fair carnival on Monday in Sturgeon. Johnson, who is originally from De Soto, travels around Missouri setting up carnival rides for county fairs.

House condemns Trump 'racist' tweets in extraordinary rebuke

WASHINGTON — In a remarkable political repudiation, the Democratic-led U.S. House voted Tuesday night to condemn President Donald Trump’s “racist comments” against four congresswomen of color, despite protestations by Trump’s Republican congressional allies and his own insistence he hasn’t “a racist bone in my body.”

Two days after Trump tweeted that four Democratic freshmen should “go back” to their home countries — though all are citizens and three were born in the U.S.A. — Democrats muscled the resolution through the chamber by 240-187 over near-solid GOP opposition. The rebuke was an embarrassing one for Trump even though it carries no legal repercussions, but the highly partisan roll calls suggests it is unlikely to cost him with his die-hard conservative base.

Despite a lobbying effort by Trump and party leaders for a unified GOP front, four Republicans voted to condemn his remarks: moderate Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas and Susan Brooks of Indiana, who is retiring. Also backing the measure was Michigan’s independent Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP this month after becoming the party’s sole member of Congress to back a Trump impeachment inquiry.

Before the showdown roll call, Trump characteristically plunged forward with time-tested insults. He accused his four outspoken critics of “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician” and added, “If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” — echoing taunts long unleashed against political dissidents rather than opposing parties’ lawmakers.

The president was joined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and other top Republicans in trying to redirect the focus from Trump’s original tweets, which for three days have consumed Washington and drawn widespread condemnation. Instead, they tried playing offense by accusing the four congresswomen — among the Democrats’ most left-leaning members and ardent Trump critics — of socialism, an accusation that’s already a central theme of the GOP’s 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.

Even after two-and-a-half years of Trump’s turbulent governing style, the spectacle of a president futilely laboring to head off a House vote essentially proclaiming him to be a racist was extraordinary.

Underscoring the stakes, Republicans formally objected after Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said during a floor speech that Trump’s tweets were “racist.” Led by Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, Republicans moved to have her words stricken from the record, a rare procedural rebuke.

After a delay exceeding 90 minutes, No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Pelosi had indeed violated a House rule against characterizing an action as racist. Hoyer was presiding after Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri stormed away from the presiding officer’s chair, lamenting, “We want to just fight,” apparently aimed at Republicans. Even so, Democrats flexed their muscle and the House voted afterward by party line to leave Pelosi’s words intact in the record.

Some rank-and-file GOP lawmakers have agreed that Trump’s words were racist, but on Tuesday party leaders insisted they were not and accused Democrats of using the resulting tumult to score political points. Among the few voices of restraint, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump wasn’t racist, but he also called on leaders “from the president to the speaker to the freshman members of the House” to attack ideas, not the people who espouse them.

“There’s been a consensus that political rhetoric has gotten way, way heated across the political spectrum,” said the Republican leader from Kentucky, breaking his own two days of silence on Trump’s attacks.

Hours earlier, Trump tweeted, “Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” He wrote that House Republicans should “not show ‘weakness’” by agreeing to a resolution he labeled “a Democrat con game.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, one of Trump’s four targets, returned his fire.

“You’re right, Mr. President — you don’t have a racist bone in your body. You have a racist mind in your head and a racist heart in your chest,” she tweeted.

The four-page Democratic resolution said the House “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” It said Trump’s slights “do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.”

All but goading Republicans, the resolution included a full page of remarks by President Ronald Reagan, who is revered by the GOP. Reagan said in 1989 that if the U.S. shut its doors to newcomers, “our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”

Tuesday’s faceoff came after years of Democrats bristling over anti-immigrant and racially incendiary pronouncements by Trump. Those include his kicking off his presidential campaign by proclaiming many Mexican migrants to be criminals and asserting there were “fine people” on both sides at a 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly.

And the strong words in Washington come as actions are underway elsewhere: The administration has begun coast-to-coast raids targeting migrants in the U.S. illegally and has newly restricted access to the U.S. by asylum seekers.

Trump’s criticism was aimed at four freshman Democrats who have garnered attention since their arrival in January for their outspoken liberal views and thinly veiled distaste for Trump: Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All were born in the U.S. except for Omar, who came to the U.S. as a child after fleeing Somalia with her family.

The four have been in an increasingly personal clash with Pelosi, too, over how assertively the House should be in trying to restrain Trump’s ability to curb immigration. But if anything, Trump’s tweets may have eased some of that tension, with Pelosi telling Democrats at a closed-door meeting Tuesday, “We are offended by what he said about our sisters,” according to an aide who described the private meeting on condition of anonymity.

That’s not to say that all internal Democratic strains are resolved.

The four rebellious freshmen joined Rep. Steven Cohen of Tennessee and a handful of others who wanted the House to vote on a harsher censure of Trump’s tweets. And Rep. Al Green of Texas was trying to force a House vote soon on whether to impeach Trump — a move he’s tried in the past but lost, earning opposition from most Democrats.

At the Senate Republicans’ weekly lunch Tuesday, Trump’s tweets came up and some lawmakers were finding the situation irksome, participants said. Many want the 2020 campaigns to focus on progressive Democrats’ demands for government-provided health care, abolishing the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and other hard-left policies.

“Those ideas give us so much material to work with and it takes away from our time to talk about it,” Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana said of the Trump tweets.

Excessive heat warning in effect through Saturday evening

An excessive heat warning will take effect at 1 p.m. Wednesday and continue through 8 p.m. Saturday for Boone and 24 other counties in central and eastern Missouri.

The National Weather Service office in St. Louis issued the warning Tuesday afternoon. It warned of high temperatures in the upper 90s over the next several days and heat indexes of up to 113.

In Columbia, high temperatures of 96 degrees were forecast for Wednesday through Saturday. Heat indexes for Wednesday and Thursday were expected to reach 106 and 105 degrees, respectively. Dew points are expected to be in the lower 70s.

The weather service warned that the dangerously high temperatures and humidity can quickly cause heat stress or heatstroke if people aren’t careful. The very young, the elderly, those without air conditioning, and those participating in strenuous outdoor activities will be the most susceptible.

It also reminded residents that car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes. Children and pets should not be left in vehicles unattended.

Nighttime conditions were expected to remain warm and muggy throughout the warning period, making heat-related illnesses even more likely.

People in the warning area are advised to avoid poorly ventilated areas and prolonged work in the sun. Those without air conditioning should use fans to ventilate their homes and find a way to spend at least some time in air-conditioned environments.

Columbia offers the following cooling centers:

  • The Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St.
  • The Armory Sports and Community Center, 701 E. Ash St.
  • The Boone County Government Center, 801 E. Walnut St.
  • The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health & Human Services, 1005 W. Worley St.
  • Columbia Mall, 2300 Bernadette Drive.
  • Columbia Public Library, 100 W. Broadway.
  • Salvation Army, 1108 W. Ash St.
  • The Salvation Army Harbor House, 602 N. Ann St.