Four candidates are vying for three open spots on the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education. Ahead of the election on April 4, CBT caught up...
The Council for Community and Economic Research released 2016 second quarter cost of living statistics, showing that Columbia’s living costs were 7.5 percent below the nationwide average. Columbia received a composite index figure score of 92.5, meaning that $100 worth of goods in an average U.S. city typically costs $92.50 in Columbia. Columbia’s index remained the highest in the state. The figures are based on are housing, utilities, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services.
In September, SolSmart, a national designation and assistance program for expanding solar energy use, announced gold, silver, and bronze designations for communities across the nation making efforts to find faster and cheaper ways to harness solar energy. Columbia received gold recognition alongside 13 other cities. This designation means that Columbia is “open for solar business,” or ready to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs.
The U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey reported that the number of Missourians living in poverty declined from 15.5 percent in 2014 to 14.8 percent in 2015, and the medium household income rose from $48,363 to $50,238. The number of uninsured Missourians dropped from 694,000 to 583,000. Poverty rates for children, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and those without a high school degree or equivalent remain higher than the overall rate. The latest available census data lists Columbia’s poverty rate at 24.9 percent. College students generally inflate their host city’s poverty rate.
Columbia College will now offer enrollment at a special discount to Missouri state employees and retirees. There are 77,000 employees eligible for this program, which is the first of its kind in the state. Enrollment opened on October 24.
In September, Boone County Family Resources and partners broke ground on 28 affordable, handicap-accessible, and energy-efficient one-bedroom apartments on Apple Tree Lane and St. Joseph Street in central and southwest Columbia. The housing will primarily be for tenants with disabilities who can live independently or small families with children who have disabilities. The City of Columbia outlined a need for this type of housing in their 2015–2019 consolidated plan, as average wait lists for affordable, accessible apartments range from one to five years.
The Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission is part of a statewide program offering grants to make repairs or replacements on septic and other on-site wastewater systems throughout the state. The grant program is funded by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Grant eligibility is based on income guidelines outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services, with the maximum grant covering 50 percent of costs.
The Columbia Board of Realtors donated $1,000 to the Realtors Relief Foundation to help victims of flooding in southern Louisiana. On a state level, the association also contributed $2,500, and the national Realtors’ association pledged $350,000. These donations will help provide housing assistance to victims.
Range free, a bakery and café dedicated to foods free of gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and other allergens, celebrated its first anniversary in the North Village Arts District. The café offered live music, a Second Chance animal shelter petting zoo, food and drink, entertainment, and raffles.
Boone Hospital recently dedicated its healing garden, next to the hospital’s main entrance, to Barbara Weaver. Weaver served as a trustee on the hospital’s board for more than 30 years before her retirement in 2015. The garden will display a newly commissioned sculpture, called “Synergy,” designed by Larry Young.