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Residents fight to 'Save Historic Broadway'
 Madi Winfield  / 

For over a week, dozens of homes lining West Broadway have prominently displayed blue and green signs reading “Save Historic Broadway.”

The signs are a response to a new development at the northeast corner of West Broadway and West Boulevard proposed by local doctor Mohammad Jarbou. The development would require tearing down three houses, two of which are in the West Broadway Historic District.

The houses at 919 West Broadway and 14 West Boulevard were both built in 1925; 917 West Broadway was constructed in 1902. Both of the Broadway houses are part of the West Broadway Historic District, a neighborhood of about 70 houses that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Jarbou has proposed to the public a multi-use space with a medical building, an office space and a 40-stall parking lot. The development would require the three plots of land to be replatted, or combined into one, and rezoned from residential to mixed use.

Jarbou owns the three homes, which he leases to tenants.

Columbia residents like Louis Wilson, who has lived on West Broadway for almost 20 years, are turning out in full force against this change.

“There is virtually no neighborhood desire — I would say 0% desire — for the destruction of these three historic neighborhood properties,” Wilson said.

Wilson, the communications director for the Historic West Broadway Neighborhood Association, is concerned for the preservation of the historic American architectural styles of the neighborhood. The style is a big part of Columbia, he said, and neighborhood developments throughout the city work to mirror the “texture and fabric that’s hard to duplicate.”

“We’re not a city that has century-old houses to throw away,” Wilson said. “People are very concerned with saving the few we have left.”

Jarbou plans for his development to match the feel of the neighborhood, according to Keenan Simon, a civil engineer working on this project for Simon & Struemph Engineering. Simon gave a presentation at a public interest meeting in April which emphasized their intent to mimic the neighborhood’s structural style.

About 60 people attended the meeting from five different neighborhood associations, Wilson said. Even after a similar neighborhood input meeting on Tuesday, he said he’s not convinced.

“They may have great intentions to match the look of the neighborhood, but it’s still an office park,” Wilson said. “It’s not a neighbor. At night, it’s just a few lights in a parking lot. It’s not someone you can get a cup of coffee with.”

Although the planned development would require demolishing the historic houses, there is still another option. Simon said that Jarbou is accepting offers on the three houses.

“(Jarbou) realized this was a contentious project after the initial community meeting and felt it was necessary to give anyone the opportunity to purchase the homes at a fair market value,” Simon wrote in an email. “His intent would be to sell all three rentals as a package deal so he could relocate his efforts in a new area.”

Wilson recognizes the efforts that Simon and Jarbou have exerted to communicate with West Broadway residents. But the neighborhood, which begins at this intersection, has acted for decades as a “historic gateway to the city,” and that type of “visual capital” is irreplaceable, Wilson said.

“If you let (people) redevelop an old historic street ... it’s Disneyland without the effort,” Wilson said. “You’d almost have to have Hollywood set builders to recreate that.”

Supervising editor is Libby Stanford.

A repeal of Missouri's motorcycle helmet law is on the governor's desk. What does that mean for motorcyclists?
 Galen Bacharier  / 

Darrius Davis has become a disciple of the helmet.

After he got a new job at the Columbia Department of Solid Waste a few years ago, he finally saved enough to buy his first motorcycle, a 125cc Thumpstar pit bike.

Since that day in 2016, he’s been involved in three separate crashes. His first came at Finger Lakes State Park in 2017, while he was trying to help a broken down vehicle, veered on a bad turn and ended up on the ground.

A year later, in December, he was caught in two accidents, one that sent him bouncing off the bike, head-first.

He hasn’t broken any bones or had any head injuries. He’s always worn his helmet, and his experiences ensure that he won’t go without one anytime soon.

Armond Feffer / 

Armond Feffer


Darrius Davis sits on his 125 CC Thumpstar pit bike. Davis has crashed his bike three times but was wearing a helmet each time. “My helmet saved my life,” said Davis, “I don’t ride my bike without one.”

Current Missouri law doesn’t even give riders like Davis a choice — if you’re operating or riding a motorcycle, you must be wearing a helmet.

A bill waiting on Gov. Mike Parson’s desk could change that.

Senate Bill 147 started as legislation to adjust vehicle registration deadlines in the state. But after a mountain of amendments and a House committee hearing, it developed into an omnibus of sorts, covering everything from vehicle inspections to left-turns on one-way streets at red lights to the creation of a “Towing Task Force.”

Deep in the bill is a stipulation that any qualified motorcycle operator over 18 and covered by health insurance is no longer required to wear protective headgear.

If signed off on by Parson, Missouri would have among the most lenient helmet laws in the country.

Old issue, new outcome

The helmet law is an old enemy of riders’ rights groups. In Missouri, they’ve lobbied for over 20 years to repeal it.

It’s reached the governor’s desk twice before — once in 1999, when it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan.

Ten years later, it was back, this time with Democrat Jay Nixon sitting behind the governor’s desk, and it was vetoed again.

In 2019, however, Missouri government looks very different than 10 and 20 years ago. Republicans hold hyper-majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly and the governorship.

Conservatives control the agenda, and debates between Republicans on just how conservative legislation should be are just as common as debates between the two parties. Only one Democrat, state auditor Nicole Galloway, holds a statewide office.

Riders’ rights groups seized the opportunity to lobby conservative legislators on the helmet issue. Their main arguments? Statistics about motorcycle helmet safety are not to be trusted, and the government should stay out of their lives when it comes to motorcycles.

The same word kept coming up.

“Freedom,” said Tony Shepherd, legislative director for A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education Missouri, a riders’ rights group.

Armond Feffer / 

Armond Feffer/Missourian


The Missouri Senate is awaiting Governor Mike Parson’s approval to pass Senate Bill 147. The bill would repeal the current state mandate requiring motorcyclists to wear protective headgear. Parson has said that motorists should be allowed the “personal freedom” to decide whether to wear or not wear a helmet.

“Freedom is definitely one of our goals.”

Shepherd was on the forefront of the lobbying effort about this issue during the 2019 legislative session. He kept in constant contact with senators and representatives in Jefferson City, sometimes sitting in the chambers’ galleries, all to ensure a repeal and regain what he believes to be his personal right.

“I’m all for getting the government out of my life,” he said. “I’m old enough, I’m responsible, I think I know what I’m doing … at least I hope I do.”

He got his wish on May 16 when the Senate read the bill for the third time. Just hours beforehand, the chamber had entered the national spotlight and passed an eight-week ban on abortion.

As a result, helmet law repeal certainly wasn’t the biggest news of the day. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t debate.

Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, voted against it on the basis of “fiscal responsibility” and Medicaid costs associated with injuries. Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, a motorcyclist himself, argued in favor of repeal.

Other Democrats provided personal anecdotes about motorcycle crashes and deaths — the repeal was called “irresponsible” and contrary to the “pro-life culture” Republicans frequently referred to during debate of the abortion ban.

In the end, SB 147 passed 24-12. Now it sits on the governor’s desk, awaiting his signature before the mid-July deadline.

Parson has voted in favor of this issue in the past, and nearly all stakeholders expect him to sign it.

So what exactly changed this year that led to its success? Nobody seems to know. Shepherd called it “a perfect storm.”

“If you can figure that out, good luck,” he said. “We’re just as shocked.”

Human and economic costs of repeal

Motorcycle safety and awareness are a major focus for Missouri’s Department of Transportation. Every May, the department puts on a Motorcycle Awareness Month campaign, sharing resources, statistics and tips for riders and drivers.

It was convenient timing, coinciding with the repeal making its way through the General Assembly — but it was not intentional.

“The timing of it fits in well with the legislative session here in Missouri,” said Jon Nelson, assistant to the state highway safety and traffic engineer at the Missouri Department of Transportation.

“But we’re going to promote and support motorcycle awareness out there on the roadways, regardless of what’s going on with any potential legislation,” Nelson said. “We feel like motorcycle safety is a significant piece of our efforts here in the state.”

It’s easy to see where the department stands on the issue. Scroll down just a bit on a MoDOT website called, and you’ll see a few statistics displayed prominently:

  • 11% of all 2018 Missouri fatal crashes involved a motorcycle.
  • 79% of 2017 motorcycle crashes resulted in injury or death.
  • 98% of deaths in 2017 motorcycle crashes were the riders themselves.
  • 107 Missouri motorcyclists were killed in crashes in 2018. This is down from 2017, when there were 115 crashes, but recent years have seen more fatal crashes than ever before.

“I think we would be remiss to not acknowledge the fact that if this does take place, we should expect to see more Missourians die as a result of motorcycle crashes,” Nelson said.

In a safety brochure MoDOT makes available through the website, the human cost clear: The state could see a 38% increase in fatalities if the helmet requirement is repealed.

The annual economic cost of motorcycle crashes on Missouri is also significant: $9.1 million per fatality.

Helmets can result in a 37% decrease in the risk of fatal injury and 69% decrease in the risk of head injury.

Armond Feffer / 

Armond Feffer/Missourian


A motorcycle sits out on display at F&A Cycle in Columbia. F&A Cycle co-owner Jason Fairless believes riding a motorcycle comes with a huge risk. “Once you pass certain speed, none of it matters,” said Fairless. He lost a brother to a motorcycle accident 30 years ago. “It doesn’t matter if you have a helmet that covers your whole face or not,” said Fairless, “But wouldn’t it be nice for the family to have an open casket?”

Nelson and the department view the potential repeal of the law as “disappointing,” calling it “a step backward” in their efforts to emphasize rider safety and awareness.

But supporters of the repeal still aren’t buying it.

Shepherd calls a helmet “a false sense of security.” He believes the statistics around the topic are “a whole lot of fallacy.”

Joe Widmer, legislative director for Freedom of Road Riders, claims that the idea of a helmet saving your life is a “myth.” He acknowledges that they might prevent serious injury, but that’s all.

Both Shepherd and Widmer emphasized that this was “a rider’s choice.” In fact, Shepherd said he and his organization “recommend helmets.” That doesn’t mean he thinks people should have to wear them.

“We’ve got some riders that will probably never wear a helmet again,” Shepherd said. “That’s their choice.”

While these riders’ rights groups celebrate their legislative triumph, Nelson and MoDOT anticipate more deaths, and they expect to ramp up their education and awareness efforts.

“As Missourians, we need to understand and be aware of (the data),” Nelson said. “For those reasons, we’re going to continue to promote and encourage all riders to wear helmets anytime they’re riding on the roadways.”

Meanwhile, Davis, who plans to wear a helmet despite the repeal, can’t believe any of this happening in the first place.

“That’s kind of a crazy situation to even be thinking about, even allowing a person to ride a motorcycle without a helmet,” he said.

“I just don’t understand how lawmakers would even pass that. It’s like taking away a seatbelt law.”

Armond Feffer / 

Armond Feffer/Missourian


Helmets for sale are hung on display at F&A Cycle on Old 63 North. F&A Cycle co-owner Jason Fairless believes the law isn’t doing anything to help motorists anyway. The current law only requires riders to wear half shell helmets, which only cover the top of the head. “The (helmets) really aren’t protecting the rider,” said Fairless. “Protecting yourself on a motorcycle is all about your own behavior.”

The medical perspective

MU Health Care neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Litofsky can provide a laundry list of potential head injuries and traumas for riders.

“They’ll get focal injuries in the brain — that means skull fractures,” he said. “If they’re not wearing a helmet, it’ll be a depressed skull fracture, from where the crash impacts the head.

“They can get bruises in the brain, which are contusions. They can get what are called subdural hematoma or epidural hematoma. They can get something called diffuse axonal injury, which is a sharing injury in the brain related to deceleration of the head during the act.”

Long story short, riding a motorcycle provides abundant risk, especially to the head and brain.

Litofsky knows that better than anyone, but he’s sympathetic to the rider’s experience. He and his parents used to ride when he was a teenager, and his mom was once thrown off of her motorcycle when a car swerved out in front of her.

When the dust had settled, there was a crack in her helmet where her head had hit the pavement — but her head was OK.

“Helmets have been shown to prevent injury for football players, for bicyclists, for people riding skateboards,” Litofsky said. “From a medical perspective, it’s clear that when we have a patient that’s involved in a motorcycle accident and they’re wearing a helmet, they’re going to do better than if they had that same accident, same circumstances, etc. without one.”

If the law is repealed, Litofsky said he has no doubt that the number of patients he sees for head trauma after motorcycle crashes will increase.

Davis might not be a neurosurgeon, but he still believes a stricter helmet law is common sense.

“It’s obviously true. Head trauma is what’s going to hurt way more than getting something like road rash. If you slide into a curb head-first, the helmet sure would have been nice.”

Push for public vote on Missouri abortion law hits roadblock

JEFFERSON CITY — Efforts to put a new Missouri law banning abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy to a public vote hit another roadblock.

Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by prominent Republican donor David Humphreys, who is seeking to force GOP Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft to approve his referendum petition on the new law.

Green on Thursday dismissed a similar lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri. He did not elaborate on his reasoning in either order.

Acting Executive Director Tony Rothert on Thursday said the state ACLU has already appealed and expects the issue will ultimately play out in the Missouri Supreme Court.

“We all know it’s going to be decided by a higher court,” Rothert said. “So this is a step toward that.”

A spokeswoman for the Committee to Protect the Rights of Victims of Rape and Incest, which Humphreys is bankrolling , said the group is “reviewing all options to ensure Missouri’s abortion law is put to a vote of the people.”

“We are committed to protecting the rights of women and underage minors who are victims of rape and incest, and we are disappointed the court did not do so,” committee spokeswoman Mary Jenkins said in a statement.

A spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, whose office represents Ashcroft in the lawsuit, declined to comment.

Humphreys and the ACLU are seeking to put the abortion law to a public vote in hopes of repealing it. Humphreys has cited the lack of exceptions for rape and incest in his opposition to the policy, which does include exceptions for medical emergencies.

Ashcroft rejected petitions by Humphreys and the ACLU to put the law on the 2020 ballot, citing a provision in the Missouri Constitution that prohibits referendums on “laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety.”

A majority of the law, including the eight-week abortion ban, takes effect Aug. 28. But a provision that changed the rules on minors receiving abortions was enacted as soon as Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed the bill in May.

The new law requires a parent or guardian giving written consent for a minor to get an abortion to first notify the other custodial parent, with exceptions.

The law’s “emergency clause” states that enacting the parental-consent portion is vital “because of the need to protect the health and safety of women and their children, both unborn and born.”

Humphreys and the ACLU sued when Ashcroft rejected their referendum petitions.

Applying for a medical marijuana license will be strict and costly
 jrrv23  / 

If you’re looking to get into the new medical marijuana industry in Missouri, you should start planning now.

A limited number of licenses are available for marijuana facilities, and applications will be available beginning in August. But the cost to apply is fairly steep — $6,000 or $10,000, depending on the facility — and proof of ample capital to invest is mandatory.

Under finalized Department of Health and Senior Services rules as they stand now, the timeline looks like this:

  • On June 28, the DHSS will begin accepting applications from patients for medical marijuana ID cards. The department announced Friday that it was ready to begin the process six days earlier than the original July 4 deadline.
  • On Aug. 3, the DHSS will begin accepting applications for medical marijuana facility licenses.
  • Dec. 31 is the deadline for the DHSS to approve facility licenses.

Three types of medical marijuana licenses are available — one for a cultivation facility, another for a medical marijuana dispensary and the third for infused-product manufacturing. Marijuana-infused products include oils, edibles and other items, according to Jack Cardetti, a representative of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association.

Currently, the medical marijuana rules allow licenses for 192 dispensaries, 86 infused-product facilities and 60 cultivation facilities. These will be dispersed in eight regions based on Missouri’s congressional district map.

If you want to get into the marijuana industry, “the first thing you need to do is get your business plan together,” Cardetti said.

Those submitting an application must pay a non-refundable fee of $6,000 for a medical marijuana dispensary or infused-product license and $10,000 for a cultivation facility license, according to the final DHSS rules. An application with well over 100 questions is also required, and it will be scored as part of a decision about who gets a license.

In addition to the non-refundable fee for submitting an application, the questionnaire asks for proof of $150,000 in liquid capital to apply for a dispensary or infused-product facility and $300,000 in liquid capital for a cultivation facility.

Vertical integration is an option, Cardetti said, which means an applicant can seek more than one license. A person can have up to three cultivation facility licenses, three infused-product licenses and five dispensary licenses.

Because marijuana is still illegal under federal statutes, many banks are reluctant to offer loans for a medical marijuana business, though it’s possible to get loans from private individuals, said Dan Viets, an attorney and representative of MidMo NORML.

According to George Nolen of MOGreens Wellness, approved patients will be able to grow medical marijuana for their own use as early as this summer. They must fund their own cultivation card and pay a fee of $100.

Medical marijuana card holders will be allowed to grow up to 18 plants. Six of the plants can be flowering, while the remaining 12 must be at different stages of non-flowering development. This is to ensure that medical marijuana patients have year-round access to medical marijuana.

About dispensaries and infused-product facilities

Each of the eight congressional districts in Missouri can be allocated up to 24 dispensaries.

Once a license is granted and a dispensary opens for business, patients and caregivers will be required to enter through a single access point where they will be checked for eligibility. Only patients and primary caregivers will be allowed past this access point, with the exception of two additional individuals to support the patient upon request.

Among other things, the rules also indicate that facilities must provide security to deter potential theft, as well as procedures for verifying patient identity and medical marijuana purchase limits, plus knowledge of the effectiveness of different strains of marijuana and potential abuse of medical marijuana by patients.

Dispensaries also are forbidden to allow transactions with any third party. All transactions must take place directly with a qualifying patient or primary caregiver.

Infused-product facilities are required to implement an odor-control system, along with other safety provisions. They can only transport their products to a dispensary, testing facility or another manufacturing facility.

About cultivation facilities

An indoor cultivation facility is limited to 30,000 square feet and 2,800 flowering plants, according to Nolen.

Medical marijuana facilities are likely to be either indoors or in greenhouses where the environment can be controlled, he said. This will also allow marijuana to be grown and harvested all year.

Acquiring seeds will be on a strict don’t-ask-don’t tell-basis as far as the federal government is concerned, Nolen said. Since marijuana is still a Schedule I drug, it is illegal to transport marijuana, even seeds, across state lines.

Most seeds will be acquired through a seed bank in other states, Nolen said.