MU budget cuts, Pres.-elect Barack Obama’s campaign stop in Columbia and Boone County Fire Protection District Chief Steve Paulsell’s “forced” resignation are a few of 2008’s top stories in Columbia.

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I just wanted to point this out to those of you — myself included — who fill those blue bags or use those big tan bins. Going green is piling up instead of paying off in Columbia. And, it may mean the city will have to lease out space to accomodate all those water bottles and aluminum cans.

Here’s the story.

Wednesday’s story about the Welch Lake earthen dam just outside Columbia’s city limits that is in need of some costly repairs was a follow up to a story I wrote a couple of months ago.

The dam’s been in disrepair for about a decade, but the dam’s owner, Danny Miller, said he doesn’t have the estimated $250,000 to make the dam an adequate flood control.

It is heavily wooded and it’s spillways are clogged. A flood control that allows water to be let out of the lake in advance of forecasted-rain is broken, and may have contributed to the dam overtopping at least two times in the last five years.

Most recently, the drowning death of 20-year-old Michelle Runkle downstream from the dam on Sept. 14 caused some to re-examine the dam’s ability to control storm runoff. There is no way of knowing whether proper maintenance to the dam would have lowered the water level downstream where Runkel was swept away when she tried to rescue a stranded motorist

But, the agencies that know dams — MoDNR, the Corps and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in particular — say there isn’t much, if any, funding available to owner’s like Miller to help them pay for these much-needed repairs. Many times this means the dams continue to deteriorate setting up the possibility of dangerous consequences for those downstream.

Here’s the story. Give it a read, if you like. But, I would like to hear any ideas out there about creative ways to solve this problem. Boone County has over a hundred dams like this in varying degrees of shape, so if these things are allowed to fall into disrepair, the problem could be more than just one dam, one stream, one neighborhood.

Let me know.

A perusal of Columbiamissourian.com this morning would kick up two items that may be interest of to students living in the Grindstone-Rock Quarry neighborhood. Texting and condoms.

Missourian higher education reporter Sarah Flagg reported on the problems posed by texting and driving. While the story is framed around reputable research conducted in the United Kingdom, Flagg did a little research of her own — observing the texting and driving habits of those in Columbia.

Here’s the story.

Also, the continuing saga of free condoms in MU’s residence halls has seemingly come to fruition on Monday as six dispensers were installed.

Click here for the story.

The Columbia City Council approved a motion to draft an ordinance to reduce the speed limit on Bearfield Road to 35 mph and turn the intersection of Bearfield and Nifong Boulevard into a four-way stop.

At its meeting Monday night, the council received a report dated Nov. 20 indicating the need for a four-way stop because the city received reports of six traffic accidents in a year’s time at the intersection. The report cited the four-way stop’s ability to decrease the severity of crashes as a benefit of the new traffic configuration.

The report also indicated the need for a uniform speed limit on Bearfield Road. Currently, the speed limit fluctuates between 30 mph and 35 mph. After a collection of speed data by Columbia Public Works, city staff recommended a speed limit of 35 mph.

The Council will vote on the intersection at a future meeting. The agenda for the next meeting will not be released until next week.

I know this post is a little dated (a week is a long time on the Web), but in case you haven’t seen this blog post on the Gannett Blog (not affiliated with the newspaper company) here’s the skinny on what “dying” newspapers are taking home. Hint: It’s in the millions.

Click here.

Finding a loophole

I want to point you to Mike Martin’s The Columbia Heart Beat blog to read this article he published a little while ago.

“The Columbia City Council has voted to question Boone County assessor Tom Schauwecker about large property tax breaks his office provides developers that appear unjustified at best; egregious at worst. The breaks appear to violate or misread a state statute designed to help working farmers.”

Source: The Columbia Heart Beat

The article goes on to say that some Columbia developers who own property that is zoned for agricultural uses, but not being used for farming purposes are getting a break on property taxes. The break comes under a Missouri statute that allows “working” farmland to qualify for a lower tax rate. The law does not allow for the same tax break based on zoning, Martin reports.

Click here to read more from his post.