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Briefly in the News: August

New MU amphitheater

The University of Missouri and the Mizzou Alumni Association announced on Monday plans to construct an outdoor amphitheater at the center of the university’s campus.

Construction will begin on Traditions Plaza this summer, and the university expects the project will be finished by fall 2014, in time to commemorate the university’s 175th anniversary. The amphitheater will be located on Conley Avenue across the street from Jesse Hall.

The Mizzou Alumni Association said in its announcement the amphitheater will be used for concerts, spirit rallies and outdoor classes and will be freely available for the campus community.


Blue Ribbon Small Business of the Year Award

The United States Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday three Columbia small businesses have been awarded with the Blue Ribbon Small Business of the Year Award.

Delta Systems Group, Job Finders Employment Services and Midwest Computech received the Blue Ribbon Small Business of the Year Award and will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on June 11 to 13. This is the fourth consecutive year Midwest Computech has won the Blue Ribbon Award and the first time Delta Systems Group and Job Finders Employment Services have won.

The Blue Ribbon Small Business Award recognizes small-business applicants across the United States that distinguished themselves through professional success, community relationships and personal conduct. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce selected 100 winners of the 2014 Blue Ribbon Small Business of the Year Award.


Community Health Assessment

The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services released its 2013 Community Health Assessment May 9 after more than a year of in-depth research on health topics in Boone County. The finished report, which will provide the foundation with information for a five-year Community Health Improvement Plan, summarizes demographic information and identifies the foremost health issues facing the Columbia community.

The four-part assessment period, which included surveys and focus groups, identified five primary issues that affect the lives of Boone County residents: health equity, access to health services, encouragement of healthy lifestyles, crime reduction and mental or behavioral health.

A thread of socioeconomic and racial disparity runs through the finished report, which reveals that the gap between the median income of Boone County’s white and black families is $5,000 more than the state average.


MU Health Care volunteers in Syria

A team of MU Health Care emergency medical processionals spent 10 days this summer providing medical relief and education to refugees of the Syrian Civil War. The group, which consists of Adam Beckett, Stacey Lake and flight paramedic Rick Baker, began working on June 12 with other volunteers in the Zaatari refugee camp near Amman, Jordan.

The team worked in conjunction with the United Nations and Doctors Without Borders, according to Beckett, and traveled 50 miles from Amman to Zaatari each morning to provide emergency care and teach the camp’s residents about preventive sanitation practices to reduce the spread of disease.


Stronger real estate market

A recent report conducted by Missouri REALTORS has found that the real estate market in Missouri is significantly stronger than it has been in recent months. The report looked at the group’s home sales data for April and compared the data to March of this year as well as April of last year. The research found that in April, more homes were sold than in March and that, on average, those homes sold at a higher price.


Peggy Jean’s Pies

Peggy Jean’s is back again. After closing shop in 2004, Jeanne Plumley, who co-owned the shop from 1994 until it closed, and her daughter, Rebecca Miller, have re-opened Peggy Jean’s Pies. Located on Buttonwood Drive, the new store was funded with the help of a Kickstarter.com campaign. Since the online fundraiser started in October, the pair amassed their goal of $10,000 and raised $10,246.

Lucky’s Market has started carrying Peggy Jean’s pies. After the duo saw that Lucky’s was looking for local vendors, Miller emailed Lucky’s and brought them a pie. They now make around 350 to 400 pies for Lucky’s each week.


Mapping enzymes

MU researchers successfully completed a 3-D map of an enzyme called Proline utilization A (PutA). The enzyme makes metabolism possible by adding oxygen to the molecules. By mapping PutA and knowing its function, John Tanner, a professor in the MU Department of Biochemistry, says that drug manufacturers may be able to create more effective drugs.

“Now that we have an understanding about how PutA is constructed, we can study exactly how it works,” Tanner says. Some dangerous bacteria, such as h. pylori, which infect stomach tissue, utilize the PutA enzyme to grow. Discovering the structure of this enzyme will provide valuable insight into how this protein functions and could provide blueprints for designing drugs that inhibit or increase certain protein functions, which would make those drugs more effective.”


Fab lab

Earlier this year Fulton High School ceremonially cut the ribbon for its fabrication lab, the only high school “fab lab” in Missouri. The fab lab is a digital workshop where students can use tools such as 3-D printers, laser cutters and vinyl graphics cutters.

Fulton’s fab lab opened last fall after a $250,000 grant from Internet service provider MOREnet. Over the next few months, the fab lab will be made available for public use.


9th & Elm

Elly and Clay Bethune, owners of downtown Columbia’s Elly’s Couture, launched 9th & Elm, an online fashion aggregate website.

The Bethunes hand pick the designers that appear on the curated website. With more than 150 brands on the site, registered users can follow selected clothing and jewelry designers that suit their interests.


Digital volunteer platform

Heart of Missouri United Way, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes mid-Missouri community resources, is launching a new digital way to engage the community in the system “Get Connected” through which local nonprofits and charities can post volunteer or donor opportunities for users to search.

“Get Connected” allows users to search and filter agencies by the issues they address; a separate “Needs” section also gives users a way to learn about which resources (e.g., unused items to be donated, cause advocacy or general volunteer opportunities) they can use to best help an agency.


Columbia Parks & Rec

The Cosmopolitan Luncheon Club announced it would present the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department with a donation of $125,000 at the City Council meeting scheduled for June 16.

The money is expected to go toward improving Woodridge Park, which is located west of University Women’s and Children’s Hospital at 3532 Berrywood Drive. Earlier in May, the city of Columbia announced its plans to add a playground structure, fitness trail and new surfacing at the park.


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