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City’s fifth Rotary Club formalized
Columbia Sunrise Southwest Rotary Club, which has been gathering informally for six months, will be formally recognized on Charter Night, April 24.

The Southwest Rotary has 37 charter members and meets at 7 a.m. Thursdays at Country Club of Missouri. Dr. Neil Riley, a dentist, is the president. and Mike Kelly of The Insurance Group is the president-elect.

The founders of Columbia’s fifth Rotary Club say they formed the service and networking organization because the existing clubs have just about reached their membership capacities.

“It’s just supply and demand,” said Daniel Scotten, a charter member and former member of Columbia Rotary South, which also meets at Country Club of Missouri. The Friday morning Rotary meetings at CCMO had become so crowded that people sometimes have a hard time hearing the speaker, he said.

Only five of the charter members came from other Rotary clubs in Columbia, and the others are new to the organization, according to Riley, who belonged to the Northwest Rotary for 31 years.

“It’s not a case in which we’ve raided clubs,” said Scotten, a senior vice president at Boone County National Bank. “Being part of something new is an attraction to some people.”

The organization decided it needed a few veteran Rotary members for guidance, Riley said. Some joined the relatively small new Rotary so they can become more familiar with fellow members, he added.

While Columbia’s Rotary membership has been growing, the southwest Missouri Rotary district’s membership has had about 3,000 members for a long time, Tim Donovan, the assistant district governor, said. A few small towns have disbanded their Rotary chapters, he said.

The other four Rotary Clubs in the city: Rotary Club of Columbia, better known as the Downtown Rotary, was formed in 1922, meets at noon on Thursdays in Dulany Hall of Columbia College and has about 160 members. Rotary Club of Columbia-Northwest was formed in 1970, meets at noon on Thursdays at the Peachtree Banquet Center and has about 150 members. Columbia Rotary-South was formed in 1986, meets at the Country Club of Missouri at 6:45 a.m. on Fridays and has about 110 members. Columbia Metro Rotary Club was formed in 1993, meets at noon on Wednesdays at Columbia Country Club and has about 90 members.

Regular gas prices begin topping $3, rising
The price of regular gasoline has started creeping above $3 per gallon in Columbia, and industry analysts expect the price to keep rising through spring.

The price at the pump in Columbia reached the highest level at $3.22 per gallon for regular gas last May, but the retail prices for gas are expected to be higher in 2008 than last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The latest EIA Short Term Energy Outlook projects that the monthly average gasoline price in the United States will peak near $3.40 per gallon this spring.

The Phillips 66 station on Grindstone Parkway raised the gas price to $3.09 per gallon on March 10. At the Midway Travel Center off Interstate 70, Randy Trierweiler had the dreaded task of changing the sign advertising the station’s regular gas price above $3 per gallon before his competitors on March 7.

“We hate to charge these high prices,” Trierweiler said. “While there may be some psychological barrier involved [when the price exceeds $3], for us, it’s just based on cost. As our cost goes up, retail costs go up. We also try to price ourselves to match the Columbia market when feasible.”

The high prices mean drivers have less disposable income and are less likely to buy food and other items inside the truck stop, he said.

Overall, the share of disposable income U.S. residents spend on energy rose above 6 percent in December, the highest level since 1985, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Oil prices, a major component of gas prices, have been rising relentlessly and last week hit another record high, even when adjusted for inflation.

Hy-Vee store construction beginning this summer

Construction of Hy-Vee grocery stores in south and east Columbia will begin this summer after the existing buildings at the two sites are demolished this spring, a company official said this week.

It usually takes 12 to 18 months to complete construction of the grocery stores, said Marilyn Gahm, the Hy-Vee customer service coordinator.

The Des Moines-based grocery chain is building its second and third stores in Columbia at the former Wal-Mart site in the Rock Bridge Shopping Center at Providence Road and Nifong Boulevard and at the old MegaMarket site in the Broadway Marketplace near the U.S. 63 intersection with Broadway Street.

Each of Hy-Vee’s new stores in Columbia will be about 78,000 square feet and cost $5 million to build, according to a building permit application filed with the city by Hy-Vee. Hy-Vee’s store on West Broadway Street is about 70,000 square feet.

Baumgartners named Agriculturalists of the Year
Boone County farmers Joe and Sue Baumgartner were honored as the 2008 Agriculturalists of the Year during the Columbia Chamber of Commerce’s 49th annual Agriculture Recognition Banquet.

More than 320 people attended the event March 11 at the Elks Lodge.

The Baumgartners, who married in 1960, own 320 acres of land and rent another 850 acres in the Ashland-Englewood area of Boone County where they were raised. Their crops consist of about 300 acres of corn and 300 acres of soybeans.

The Baumgartners raised hogs on their farm for 30 years and now have a livestock operation with about 150 cows, according to a script of the presentation made during the event.

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Steve Moeller of Lone Cottonwood Farms at his spot at the Columbia Farmers marker. Photo courtesy of Columbia Farmers Market