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What's Happened

After nearly three hours of debate Monday, the City Council affirmed the city staff’s position to oppose imminent Environmental Protection Agency regulations mandating a 40 percent reduction in stormwater runoff into the Hinkson Creek. Mayor Bob McDavid called the special public hearing after 1st Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz took issue with a letter to the EPA from the mayor saying the city opposed the mandate. Sturtz said the City Council should vote to establish an official city position. At the public hearing, Columbia Public Works Director John Glasscock gave a presentation estimating the total cost of the regulations could fall anywhere between $50 million and $300 million. The majority of citizens who spoke at the hearing opposed the city’s position. Only Sturtz and 6th Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe voted against city staff’s position. The EPA is scheduled to implement the new rules by the end of the month.
The City Council on Monday also unanimously approved asking Columbia voters to decide in April whether to pay Council members a stipend for their services. A citizen task force, led by local notables such as former Mayor Darwin Hindman and retired banker Bob Roper, asked the Council last month to put the issue on the ballot. The measure calls for paying City Council members $6,000 a year and the mayor $9,000 a year beginning in 2014.
Boone County Presiding Commissioner Ed Robb had a pacemaker implanted Dec. 30 after he collapsed in his home the previous night, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported. Robb still attended his 11 a.m. swearing-in ceremony on New Year’s Day.
MU Chancellor Brady Deaton sent a letter to the Missouri Department of Higher Education that outlined a restructuring in MU degree programs that would result in a net reduction of 16 degrees offered by the university. Some degrees will be combined. Spanish and French, for instance, would be rolled into a romance languages program. One program in the College of Agriculture, four programs in the College of Education and two in the School of Health Professions would be eliminated entirely.
MU Health Care was cited by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid for not adhering to the federal regulator’s guidelines for infection control practices and maintenance, according to media reports. Inspectors toured the hospital in November and plan an unannounced revisit to the hospital this year. If the hospital does not reach CMS regulatory thresholds, it could be ineligible for reimbursements for treating Medicare-eligible patients.
Several pieces of the health care reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in March took effect on Jan. 1. Insurers are now mandated to use at least 80 percent of their premium revenues on insurance claims and initiatives to improve public health. For policies sold to large groups, the mandate is 85 percent. Another provision coming online will reimburse 50 percent of spending by Medicare beneficiaries caught in the prescription drug coverage “doughnut hole,” which cut off federal coverage for prescriptions more than $2,830 and required beneficiaries to spend $3,610 of their own money before federal assistance resumed. Medicare beneficiaries will also be able to receive many preventive services, such as mammograms, for free. And a new agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which is tasked with slowing the rise in health care costs, was launched.
Local Mediacom subscribers lost access Jan. 4 to KOMU 8 and Mid-Missouri’s CW after negotiations on a new contract between KOMU and Mediacom broke down. KOMU receives compensation from the cable provider for its programming and had reached a deal for compensation for the first year of a three-year contract. But the parties were unable to reach an agreement on compensation for the second and third years. They had previously agreed to extend the deadline from Dec. 31 to Jan. 4. KOMU receives some compensation from MU and uses student reporters for its local news broadcasts but is mostly a self-supporting business. Mediacom is currently finalizing a deal that would allow the company’s founder and majority shareholder to take the cable giant private.
MU Tiger’s Quarterback Blaine Gabbert decided to enter the NFL draft rather than play for MU during his senior season. Gabbert’s last game in MU uniform, during the Insight Bowl Dec. 28, saw him throw for 434 yards in Missouri’s 27-24 loss to Iowa, a record for the Bowl game.
44 Stone Public House, a restaurant being launched by local chefs David Faron and Mark Sulltrop, will soon take the place of Hemingway’s Wine and Bistro, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported. Van Allen, who closed Hemingway’s in October, sold the two chefs the assets of the restaurant, formerly located on Peachtree Drive. Faron and Sulltrop hope to have the new English pub-themed eatery open by mid-February.
Less than three months after Providence Bank acquired the non-Columbia branches and many assets of failed Premier Bank, CEO Brett Burri announced the makeup of the expanded bank’s leadership. Daniel W. Thompson will be chief financial officer; Lee R. Keith will be chief lending officer; Keith E. Monson will be chief risk officer; and Michael W. Anderson will be chief operating officer.
William Woods University in Fulton is planning an $11.7 million expansion that will convert the presidential home into an alumni and visitor center after current President Jahnae H. Barnett retires, the Jefferson City News-Tribune reported. The university has reached 55 percent of its $11.7 million fundraising goal.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources State Historic Preservation Office gave preliminary approval to a grant application submitted by Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission to study the economic impact of historic preservation efforts in the city.
The Missouri Development Finance Board approved changes to the state’s Small Business Loan Program on Dec. 28 and made up to $50,000 available on a single loan, the Associated Press reported.

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