KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com News News en-us Copyright 2017, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Sun, 17 Dec 2017 HH:12:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ 144 25 Man charged in St. Louis County shooting that killed 4 http://www.komu.com/news/man-charged-in-st-louis-county-shooting-that-killed-4/ http://www.komu.com/news/man-charged-in-st-louis-county-shooting-that-killed-4/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 11:15:00 PM The Associated Press Man charged in St. Louis County shooting that killed 4

COLUMBIA (AP) — Police say they have arrested a man charged in an August quadruple homicide that occurred in St. Louis County.

Police say 20-year-old Ja'Vonne Dupree was arrested Friday in in Columbia.

He is charged with four counts each of first-degree murder and robbery and nine other counts in the Aug. 24 shooting deaths of 56-year-old Patricia Steward, her two sons, 20-year-old Joseph Corely and 10-year-old Terrence Dehart, as well as 18-year-old Deandre Kelley Jr. All four were killed inside a Glasgow Village home.

Police say Dupree shot all four, took electronics and clothing from the home and fled in Steward's car with the stolen items.

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Gifts 4 Guns attempts to increase awareness and decrease gun violence http://www.komu.com/news/gifts-4-guns-attempts-to-increase-awareness-and-decrease-gun-violence/ http://www.komu.com/news/gifts-4-guns-attempts-to-increase-awareness-and-decrease-gun-violence/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 8:04:28 PM Brianna Stubler, KOMU 8 Reporter Gifts 4 Guns attempts to increase awareness and decrease gun violence

COLUMBIA - An event in Columbia today addressed the prevalence of gun violence and misuse of firearms by offering gift cards in exchange for guns.

Gift 4 Guns offered local Mid-Missourians the opportunity to turn in guns, no questions asked.

In Boone County alone, there were 101 reported firearm assaults this year, and 7,556 statewide, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol statistics. The first year reported is 2001, with a total of 4,368 firearm assaults. That is a difference of 3,188 in 16 years with a population of roughly the same size.

Event founder Cory Crosby was shocked by the numbers he saw, and said everyone has a role to play in making their community safer.

"Initially, my concern and reason for doing the gun buyback was some of the recent shootings in Columbia," Crosby said. "Not too long after that, I was doing some research and stumbled on some information and statistics about Missouri leading in child deaths too - from people leaving their firearms around and not securing them safely." He said this was an eye-opener for him and encouraged him to raise awareness.

One of their biggest goals, Crosby said, is to educate people on gun safety and raise awareness of the issue of accidental injuries and improper or misuse of guns. 

"I think that makes a big difference and will impact the number of accidental deaths, senseless shootings and senseless misuses of firearms," Crosby said.

He said its one step to bring the community together on an issue that has the potential to affect anyone and everyone. From children to adults, Crosby said it is important to educate people on proper gun use - how to disarm and secure them, in addition to how and when to properly use a firearm.

"We don't have to sit back and let it happen," Crosby said. "There are things we can do to continue making Columbia safer."

Event volunteers have all been approved by the city, he said, and the Columbia Police Department has agreed to safely destroy all the guns collected today. Because the Armory Sports Center is city property, firearms are prohibited. Crosby met with people at the Armory from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to discuss gun safety, while all guns were collected at a separate, secure location. 

By 11 a.m. this morning, Crosby said there were over 20 guns turned in. He started an online funding page that helped raise funds for the gun exchange program, and said money came from within the community and from outside individuals that wanted to support his efforts.

"We explain to people that this is to protect them, to follow the city rules, and to make today successful," Crosby said. The mission of today was simple - to get more guns off the street.

"Moving forward, I would like to make this something that's available to people so they have an option to turn in their gun and get a little extra cash in their pocket," Crosby said.

Another aspect of gun violence he said he hopes to address with this event today is guns stolen from vehicles. Crosby said the number of stolen guns has soared this year, and a friend of his chimed in with a personal story involving an car break-in and theft. In cases like this, a gun falls into the wrong hands and can be very dangerous.

"I think we all have to do a better job in securing weapons, thinking before we use weapons, and the police need to do a better job on making sure cars aren't getting broken into, but the people who leave them in there also need to be more aware," Crosby said. "There's a chance someone can go in your car, take your gun and commit a crime with it" This wont be solved by one person or group, Crosby said, but will take a collective effort.

Last month in Boone County there were 156 firearm assaults, but for the month of December, that number has dropped to five. Comparing 2016 to 2017 state totals shows a slight decrease as well, although the final numbers for the year will not be available until January. 

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Jefferson City boy holds hot chocolate stand for local charities http://www.komu.com/news/jefferson-city-boy-holds-hot-chocolate-stand-for-local-charities/ http://www.komu.com/news/jefferson-city-boy-holds-hot-chocolate-stand-for-local-charities/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 6:51:35 PM Abby Dodge, KOMU 8 Reporter Jefferson City boy holds hot chocolate stand for local charities

COLUMBIA – A six-year-old held a hot chocolate stand Saturday outside of a Hy-Vee in Jefferson City to help two local charities.

Hudson Patrick asked for donations for Toys for Tots and The Pantry. According to both organizations, the items that are most in need are infant toys and toys for ages six through eight, Ziploc bags, and cream of wheat.

Hudson said all he is trying to do is help people.

“I wanted to help people that don’t have toys or food,” Hudson said.

This wasn’t the first time he opened up a stand to help those in need. Over the summer, Hudson hosted a lemonade stand to raise money for the victims of hurricane Harvey. 

Hudson’s mom, Allison, said she’s happy to see that her son has a big heart.

“It’s just awesome. He’s just so excited about it and he’s really taken everything that he’s doing and just ran with it,” she said.  “It’s just made him really excited to know that he’s helping people.”

Despite hosting multiple fundraisers for various causes, Hudson has never been able to see the impact of his generosity until now.

“He’ll actually be able to give these donations, so that will be fun for him to actually be able to see where his hard work and his donations that he collected will go to,” Patrick said.

One donor at the hot chocolate stand said he sees a bright future for Hudson.

“It makes me feel good for that generation," Howard Booe said. "It’s great to teach your kids to always give back and try to help others.”

Booe said he grew up with less than he has now, and that is why he decided to donate to Hudson’s stand.

“When you grow up with less than a lot of things and you appreciate a lot more things when you get them, so you always try to give back,” Booe said.

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UPDATE: One fatality, two injured in car wreck on State Road Y http://www.komu.com/news/update-one-fatality-two-injured-in-car-wreck-on-state-road-y/ http://www.komu.com/news/update-one-fatality-two-injured-in-car-wreck-on-state-road-y/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 4:19:06 PM Daniel Litwin, KOMU 8 Reporter and Amy Hanks, KOMU 8 Digital Producer UPDATE: One fatality, two injured in car wreck on State Road Y

NEW BLOOMFIELD - A two-vehicle car wreck Saturday left one dead and two others injured, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The two cars collided head-on on State Road Y near County Road 365, engulfing the vehicles in flames.

Driver Ryan W. Kirk, 23, of New Bloomfield, was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision. The other driver, Brett L. Arnzer, 28, of New Bloomfield, was transported by ambulance to University Hospital with serious injuries, along with his 7-year-old passenger.

When KOMU 8 arrived to the scene the majority of the fire had been put out, but puffs of smoke were still rising from the vehicle. State troopers and both the New Bloomfield and Southern Boone County fire departments were assisting in putting out the fire and clearing the crash.

Traffic was held up for several hours on the stretch of road.

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the latest information and to reflect that the Southern Boone County Fire Protection District, not the Boone County Fire Protection District, responded the the crash.)

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Largest class of recruits in years joins Columbia Police Department http://www.komu.com/news/largest-class-of-recruits-in-years-joins-columbia-police-department/ http://www.komu.com/news/largest-class-of-recruits-in-years-joins-columbia-police-department/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 4:03:26 PM Daniel Litwin, KOMU 8 Reporter Largest class of recruits in years joins Columbia Police Department

COLUMBIA - On Friday, the Columbia Police Department inducted eight new recruits, the largest class of officers in years.

The new officers include Albert Howard, Regenia Minks, Jordan Payne, Corinne Raney, Ryan Tarrants, Jacob Waldrup, Brittany Williams, and Matthew Wright. 

New recruits spend 17 weeks qualifying to handle firearms, studying Missouri laws and codes and studying defense tactics.

Beginning on Monday, the eight new recruits will begin three weeks of orientation and then a four and a half month process of field work.

For the past couple of years, police departments and law enforcement agencies, including Columbia's have been seeing less qualified applicants. KOMU previously spoke with city council member Karl Skala in November, who said of the 173 positions at CPD, 12-15 are unfilled at any given time. Prior drug use and a lack of prior schooling are a few of the reasons potential applicants are being turned away.

KOMU reported last yea that CPD could use as many as 50 new recruits to cover all the duties currently being unperformed or tasked to other officers. More officers on duty would help relieve some of the stress current law enforcement face.

Lt. Jeff Jones said at a Citizen Police Review Board presentation in August 2016 that low staffing causes "elevated stress, it causes fatigue and it can lead to issues with decision making, even motor skills."

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Wreaths placed throughout Jacksonville State Veterans Cemetery http://www.komu.com/news/wreaths-placed-throughout-jacksonville-state-veterans-cemetery/ http://www.komu.com/news/wreaths-placed-throughout-jacksonville-state-veterans-cemetery/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 3:31:39 PM Jacob Cavaiani, KOMU 8 Reporter Wreaths placed throughout Jacksonville State Veterans Cemetery

JACKSONVILLE - An estimated 400 people attended a wreath laying ceremony Saturday at the Jacksonville State Veterans Cemetery.

It was one of about 1,200 ceremonies at cemeteries across the United Sates and overseas.

Jim Nugent, the director of the Jacksonville cemetery, said approximately 1,600,000 wreaths were placed Saturday at locations across the country and overseas.  

Donations from individuals and businesses funded the 1,250 wreaths that were placed at each headstone throughout the Jacksonville cemetery, which covers 31 counties from Jefferson City to the Iowa line to St. Louis, Nugent said.

Ernie Allen, a member of the Audrain County Veterans of Foreign Wars post 3772, has headed the fundraising campaign for wreaths for the past two years.

While individual donations make up a majority of the donations, there were donations from corporations, such as one from U.S. Cellular, Allen said.

"This year, it took a little over $15,000 to get enough wreaths for every grave out here," Allen said.

Wreaths Across America ships the wreaths to cemeteries, though it is up to local organizations to come up with the money to purchase the wreaths.

The ceremony Saturday featured a presentation of colors, stories about veterans at Christmas time during war and a reading of veterans' names.

The ceremony was "similar to military honors at a funeral," Nugent, the cemetery director, said.

People who have family members buried at the cemetery first went to place wreaths, followed by others. 

Anyone interested in donating can write a check to Wreaths Across America and send it to Audrain County VFW post 3772. The post's address is P.O. Box 249, Mexico, Missouri, 65265.

Allen said he planned to start fundraising for next year on Monday. 

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Columbia College graduate speaks on living life to the fullest http://www.komu.com/news/columbia-college-graduate-speaks-on-living-life-to-the-fullest/ http://www.komu.com/news/columbia-college-graduate-speaks-on-living-life-to-the-fullest/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 2:47:58 PM Jessica Porter, KOMU 8 Reporter Columbia College graduate speaks on living life to the fullest
COLUMBIA – Graduation day is long awaited by many and Amy Kiso Bledsoe is no exception. 
Bledsoe was one of the fist student graduation speakers at Columbia College Saturday.
“I just want everybody to realize no matter what we’re struggling with individually day to day, it doesn’t have to be a complete struggle,” Bledsoe said. “It’s so important to focus on what you can do and obviously here I am, stage IV cancer looking at the end and I’m still going. Very strongly!”
That’s the message she decided to share with 346 of her fellow graduates. 
With 16 family members cheering her on, Bledsoe graduated from Columbia College with her masters of Business Administration.
“I’m really thrilled that it’s finally here,” Bledsoe said.
Bledsoe has also earned two other degrees from Northwest Missouri State and Lincoln University. But this degree means more than the others. 
“I did not walk in the other two,” Bledsoe said. “The first one, I was a relief house parent for a group home for adults with disabilities and they had tickets to go the circus on graduation day. So, I went to the circus with them instead of graduation.” 
Her second graduation didn't go as planned either.
“The second graduation from Lincoln, I had my cap and gown, I was ready to walk but my second child was born a little earlier than I wanted him to be so I was not able to walk for that one,” she said.  
But this graduation is also special for another reason. Bledsoe was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in March. She was diagnosed with stage IV terminal breast cancer. Despite her prognosis, Bledsoe continues to live her life to her fullest and be a light for other around her. 
“With everything she’s ever done and having the diagnosis of cancer twice, she’s finished this and she’s done it with dignity and grace and she’s always smiling,” Lorie Kiso, Amy’s sister, said. 
"None of us ever know when we're going to expire," Bledsoe said. "With my cancer I honestly didn't expect to live this long after I was diagnosed so that's huge. I'm glad everybody is here to celebrate with me," she said. 

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St. Louis hard hit by opioid epidemic http://www.komu.com/news/st-louis-hard-hit-by-opioid-epidemic/ http://www.komu.com/news/st-louis-hard-hit-by-opioid-epidemic/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 1:10:14 PM The Associated Press St. Louis hard hit by opioid epidemic

ST. LOUIS (AP) — As Missouri struggles with the epidemic of opioid abuse, no place in the state has been hit harder than St. Louis.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports there were 23 heroin deaths per 100,000 city residents from 2012 to 2016, the highest rate in Missouri and nearly double the rate in Jefferson County, which had the second-highest rate.

The city of St. Louis also leads the state in all types of opioid deaths and emergency room visits caused by prescription painkillers and heroin use.

James Shroba of the Drug Enforcement Agency office in St. Louis said 80 percent of heroin addicts start by abusing prescription painkillers. They eventually switch to heroin because it is easier to get and cheaper, selling for as little as $5 to $10 a dose.

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Furnace fire damages trailer on Prathersville Road http://www.komu.com/news/furnace-fire-damages-trailer-on-prathersville-road/ http://www.komu.com/news/furnace-fire-damages-trailer-on-prathersville-road/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 12:05:48 PM Lauren Petterson, KOMU 8 Digital Producer Furnace fire damages trailer on Prathersville Road

BOONE COUNTY - A furnace malfunction caused a fire in a trailer home on Pratherville Road Saturday morning.

Gale Blomenkamp with the Boone County Fire Protection District said firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the fire. The damage was contained to the furnace room.

Blomenkamp said no one was home when the fire started. There was smoke damage to the trailer, so the Red Cross is assisting the trailer resident.

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After-prison prescription meds program coming to Kansas City http://www.komu.com/news/after-prison-prescription-meds-program-coming-to-kansas-city/ http://www.komu.com/news/after-prison-prescription-meds-program-coming-to-kansas-city/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 11:25:12 AM The Associated Press After-prison prescription meds program coming to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — People returning to Kansas City after being released from prison will get a 90-day supply of prescription medications instead of a 30-day supply under an expanded grant-funded program.

The Kansas City Star reported Friday that the Healthy Transitions program started last year in St. Louis will be expanded to Kansas City.

Four organizations — the Sidney R. Baer Foundation, the Missouri Foundation for Health, private company Corizon Health and the Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis — combined to provide $520,000 to bring the program to Kansas City.

Nonprofit mail-order pharmacy Rx Outreach will provide the grant-funded medications.

Kelli Canada, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Missouri-Columbia who is evaluating the program, said former inmates who don't qualify for Medicaid could find themselves uninsured and unable to afford needed medications in the months after their release.

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Boone County Fire responds to shed fire on Highway 40 near Rocheport http://www.komu.com/news/boone-county-fire-responds-to-shed-fire-on-highway-40-near-rocheport/ http://www.komu.com/news/boone-county-fire-responds-to-shed-fire-on-highway-40-near-rocheport/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 10:04:54 AM Lauren Petterson, KOMU 8 Digital Producer and Daniel Perreault, KOMU 8 Reporter Boone County Fire responds to shed fire on Highway 40 near Rocheport

BOONE COUNTY - Firefighters responded to a shed fire off of Highway 40 near Rocheport Saturday morning.

Boone County Fire Protection District officials said when they got to the scene, a group of hunters were using garden hoses to keep the fire away from the house next to it.

Gale Blomenkamp with Boone County Fire said the shed was a total loss. The house was not damaged.

Firefighters responded to the fire at about 7:45 a.m. At about 9:30 a.m., firefighters told KOMU 8 News the fire was under control.

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UMKC engineering center construction to begin next summer http://www.komu.com/news/umkc-engineering-center-construction-to-begin-next-summer/ http://www.komu.com/news/umkc-engineering-center-construction-to-begin-next-summer/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 8:16:45 AM The Associated Press UMKC engineering center construction to begin next summer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Officials with the University of Missouri-Kansas City say students will soon have access to state-of-the-art 3-D technology, analytics labs and other innovations provided by a $32 million education and research center on the university's Volker campus.

The Kansas City Star reports that UMKC will start construction on the expansion of the School of Computing and Engineering by late summer 2018.

The new building would house virtual reality equipment, 3-D printing, data, and high-bay structural labs, a clean room and an electron microscope. Construction is expected to conclude before the fall 2020 semester.

The project was approved by the University of Missouri Board of Curators earlier this month and will be funded by university foundation dollars as well as private donations.

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Cat cafe might come to mid-Missouri http://www.komu.com/news/cat-cafe-might-come-to-mid-missouri/ http://www.komu.com/news/cat-cafe-might-come-to-mid-missouri/ News Sat, 16 Dec 2017 7:36:13 AM Danielle Katz, KOMU 8 Reporter Cat cafe might come to mid-Missouri

COLUMBIA - Cat cafes have popped up across the world in cities including New York City, London and Tokyo, and one man is working to bring one to mid-Missouri.

Ryan Kennedy wants to open Papa's Cat Cafe. He started a Kickstarter campaign Thursday to help him fund the business, and as of Saturday, it has raised more than $1,000 out of his $15,000 goal.

Kennedy said visiting a cat cafe in South Korea inspired him to bring the idea to Columbia. 

“We went to that cat café, and it was so different and unique," he said.

He said his wife is a dog person, so he did not have a cat for a long time. He said he wanted Columbia to have a cat cafe to give him an opportunity to "get a cat fix every once in a while." The closest cat cafe is Mauhaus in Maplewood, a St. Louis suburb.

Papa's Cat Cafe would have a coffee shop with drinks and snacks, and customers could take their purchases into a separate room. That room would have 10 cats through a partnership with Boone County Animal Care. Patrons would be able to play with the cats and adopt them.

Columbia residents would have a new place to relax, and cats would benefit too, Kennedy said. Jennifer Romesburg, president of Boone County Animal Care, said cats would get adopted faster.

"They can go in, hang out, pick out their cat, see their true personality, their true colors," Romesburg said. "A lot of times the cat picks the person too.”

Kennedy said he got his cat Hardy from Boone County Animal Care.

"(They can) be sure that it’s a cat they actually want to spend the next possibly 10 or 15 years with, and we can help with the homeless cat population here in Columbia," he said.

Romesburg said Boone County Animal Care wants to reach 500 cat adoptions by the end of the year. She said she thinks it could double this goal by partnering with Papa's Cat Cafe.

Kennedy said the Department of Health and Senior Services has approved his plan.

“As long as those two rooms are completely separated and they use the right door system, then we’re good to go," he said. "We're pretty much set to open wherever we want to.”

Kennedy said he has not found a location yet but wants the cafe to be downtown. He said Papa's Cat Cafe could open as soon as summer 2018. 

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Highway Patrol fires Trooper Anthony Piercy in Ellingson drowning http://www.komu.com/news/highway-patrol-fires-trooper-anthony-piercy-in-ellingson-drowning/ http://www.komu.com/news/highway-patrol-fires-trooper-anthony-piercy-in-ellingson-drowning/ News Fri, 15 Dec 2017 8:42:56 PM Ethan Illers, KOMU 8 Digital Producer Highway Patrol fires Trooper Anthony Piercy in Ellingson drowning

COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol has confirmed it has fired Trooper Anthony Piercy.

KOMU 8 spoke to Capt. John Hotz, who confirmed the termination, effective Friday.

KOMU 8 News obtained a letter the Highway Patrol sent to Craig Ellingson, Brandon's father.

Mr. Ellingson:
On December 11, 2017, I convened a Procedural Hearing Board to conduct a hearing related to administrative charges brought against Trooper Anthony C. Piercy.  The charges brought against Trooper Piercy are directly related to the death of your son, Brandon Ellingson.  The board concluded that Trooper Piercy violated the policies of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and that his actions warranted discipline.  The final decision regarding discipline of Patrol employees rests with me. Therefore, I am informing you Trooper Piercy's employment with the Missouri State Highway Patrol was terminated effective December 15, 2017.
Colonel Sandra K. Karsten, Superintendent

Piercy is the trooper involved in the drowning of 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson at the Lake of the Ozarks in 2014.

Ellingson was arrested on suspicion of boating under the influence. While in trooper custody and handcuffed, Ellingson fell overboard and drowned.

Piercy was accused of incorrectly securing Ellingson's life jacket, and faced a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Piercy struck a deal in June 2017, pleading guilty to negligent operation of a vessel, a misdemeanor.

In Sept. 2017, a judge sentenced Piercy to two years of probation and 10 days in jail.

Back in November 2016, the Ellingson family reached a settlement with the state of Missouri, receiving $9 million as part of a civil suit.

[Editor's note: KOMU.com corrected a misspelled name in the headline. We apologize for the error.]

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St. Louis police arrest suspect hiding in Columbia http://www.komu.com/news/st-louis-police-arrest-suspect-hiding-in-columbia/ http://www.komu.com/news/st-louis-police-arrest-suspect-hiding-in-columbia/ News Fri, 15 Dec 2017 8:29:38 PM Kevin Ko, KOMU 8 Reporter St. Louis police arrest suspect hiding in Columbia

COLUMBIA - St. Louis officers arrested a suspect that was on the run in a duplex on Sears Court in Columbia on Friday.

Authorities from St. Louis said they couldn't make a lot information public as the investigation is ongoing. However, an officer confirmed arresting a suspect who was hiding in Columbia.

He also said the suspect has multiple warrants for his arrest, but did not specify what the charges were.

A resident living in the other side of the duplex said they were in bed at the time of the arrest and saw more than one person detained. Authorities did not comment when asked to confirm multiple arrests.

The same resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told KOMU 8 News they didn’t notice authorities were at the building until they heard a door being kicked in.

They also said the suspect from St. Louis tried running away, but was quickly caught.

The Columbia Police Department assisted in the arrest.

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State Education Board Commissioner application process raises questions http://www.komu.com/news/state-education-board-commissioner-application-process-raises-questions/ http://www.komu.com/news/state-education-board-commissioner-application-process-raises-questions/ News Fri, 15 Dec 2017 8:02:11 PM Claire Kopsky, KOMU 8 Reporter State Education Board Commissioner application process raises questions

COLUMBIA - The application for the top education position in the state, Missouri State Education Board Commissioner, opened Friday leaving residents less than a month to apply.

The position was filled until Dec. 1, when Gov. Greitens' appointees voted out Margie Vandeven, even though they have not yet been approved by the Senate.

Thursday during a conference call, the board decided the position would open for applicants Friday and close Jan. 8, one day before the board’s next meeting.

Brent Ghan, the deputy executive director for the Missouri School Boards’ Association, called the application process “rushed” and “unprecedented.” He said in prior commissioner hiring processes, the board has spent months on the process to identify the candidates and the characteristics needed and also listen to input from stakeholders.

“Public education in Missouri historically has not been a political issue and we are really concerned about this whole scenario that unfolded that we’re injecting politics to a much greater degree than we should into the education of our kids,” Ghan said. “It should not be a political issue and so that’s what we’re concerned about.”

MSBA supports members of the public who are on school boards across the state by training them for their role and supporting them during their service. The association is familiar with hiring as it also often helps school boards in their search for new superintendents.

“It’s a process that we would never recommend that a local school board engage in whenever they are searching for a superintendent,” Ghan said. “Process to hire such an important leader should be very transparent and deliberate and thoughtful and they need to take their time and unfortunately, we’re not seeing that in the process that’s been adopted by the State Board of Education.” 

In the coming weeks, the association will gather comments from their about 480 school boards across the state on what they hope to see in the next commissioner. Ghan said the comments will be communicated directly with the state board before Jan. 8.

Ghan said about 90 percent of Missouri students go to public schools.

The board did not outline a new job description but rather used what they used to hire Vandeven years before.

“We think the commissioner of education needs to be an effective communicator and someone who can build a lot of consensus and be a real champion for public education in Missouri. We think we had that with the previous commissioner with Margie Vandeven and we’d like to see those sorts of characteristics in a new commissioner as well," Ghan said.

The Missouri Constitution is vague in regards to the requirements of a commissioner, although it does require the commissioner must be a resident of Missouri.

Jonathan Sessions, current Columbia Public Schools Board of Education board member, expressed his frustrations with the decisions from the commission.

“I have concerns as to why the governor was pushing to fire a successful CEO. If you have a successful CEO, why do you fire that person? We had one,” Sessions said.

These frustrations have given Sessions reason to apply for the commissioner position. 

“I’m considering. I haven’t fully decided but I’m considering throwing my hat in the ring.”

Sessions would like to see a new commissioner “work with a diversity of need," adding "We are a highly diverse state and it is important to address the needs of public education in the situation of each school and district.” 

Sessions also said he wants to see unity. “We need to be united together as school districts towards supporting public education and student success making sure our students are able to compete on a global stage.”

The new application for commissioner can be found on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website. 

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300 workers lose jobs after firm abruptly closes http://www.komu.com/news/300-workers-lose-jobs-after-firm-abruptly-closes/ http://www.komu.com/news/300-workers-lose-jobs-after-firm-abruptly-closes/ News Fri, 15 Dec 2017 7:42:41 PM The Associated Press 300 workers lose jobs after firm abruptly closes

BLUE SPRINGS (AP) — A commercial real estate records company based in suburban Kansas City has abruptly shut down, leaving about 300 people out of work less than two weeks before Christmas.

WDAF-TV reports that workers at Xceligent's Blue Springs headquarters received an email Thursday afternoon telling them to pack their belongings and be out of the building within 30 minutes. They say they received no severance or payment for accrued time off.

Xceligent's British parent company, Daily Mail and General Trust, says it decided to close Xceligent in part because the firm had trouble gaining a foothold in the important New York commercial real estate market.

Some former workers gathered at a restaurant Friday questioned whether the sudden shutdown violates a law requiring a 60-day notice for layoffs.

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Pet found dead after Columbia house fire http://www.komu.com/news/pet-found-dead-after-columbia-house-fire/ http://www.komu.com/news/pet-found-dead-after-columbia-house-fire/ News Fri, 15 Dec 2017 7:29:04 PM Ethan Illers, KOMU 8 Digital Producer, and Kevin Ko, KOMU 8 Reporter Pet found dead after Columbia house fire

COLUMBIA - The Columbia Fire Department say a house fire that killed a cat Friday afternoon started in the kitchen.

Fire crews responded to a residential structure fire in the 500 block of Hunt Avenue around 2:30 in the afternoon.

Upon arriving, responding units saw smoke and flames coming from one side of the single story residence. Firefighters managed to get the blaze under control less than 10 minutes later. 

They found a dog and cat in the home. The dog was unresponsive, but they were able to revive it. Unfortunately, they were unable to revive the cat.

No other injuries were reported. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

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Missouri police help kids celebrate Christmas http://www.komu.com/news/missouri-police-help-kids-celebrate-christmas/ http://www.komu.com/news/missouri-police-help-kids-celebrate-christmas/ News Fri, 15 Dec 2017 6:03:23 PM Maia McDonald, KOMU 8 Reporter Missouri police help kids celebrate Christmas

JEFFERSON CITY - Some Jefferson City kids are getting the chance at a Merry Christmas this year with the help of several Missouri law enforcement groups.

The Jefferson City Police Department is hosting its annual Operation T.O.Y.S. (Take Our Youth Shopping) event. 

Officers from Jefferson City, Cole County Sheriff's Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Capitol Police, Missouri Department of Corrections and Lincoln University Police Department will each be partnered with a child in the holiday event. 

"Operation T.O.Y.S is a program that started well over twenty years ago and the point of the event is that might not normally have a good Christmas due to maybe  conditions at home," said Captain Doug Shoemaker, Special Services Division Commander and Public Information Officer for JCPD. "[It's] to give them kind of an opportunity to enjoy Christmas a little bit more."

Because the JCPD doesn't have room in its budget to pay for all of the toys itself, members of the community as well as local businesses donate funds to cover the costs. 

"We have a fund we've established that we can carry into the next year too to make sure we have support,"Shoemaker said. "But, again, [it's] a very giving community. Without them we wouldn't be able to do this."

Shoemaker says they're grateful each year for the donations they receive for the children.

"It's this great partnership between the police and public that we want to emphasize the positive side of things. The getting to know people behind the badge and getting really more involved in the community and this is a direct way to do it," Shoemaker said.

JCPD works with school resource officers within Jefferson City Public Schools to pick children who may be in need of gifts for Christmas. 

"There's certain criteria that sort of fall into that and we always have this great turnout every year," Shoemaker said. "This year we have well in excess of eighty kids.

Children and their families will begin arriving between 6:30 A.M. and 7:30 A.M. to enjoy a Walmart-sponsored breakfast and to give the officers time to bond with the children. Then they'll be paired with an officer and head to Walmart Supercenter in a police-escorted procession, lights flashing and sirens whirring. 

"At that point we'll all park and Santa will come out and greet the kids and then we'll go inside and it's a lot of fun," Shoemaker said. "At the end they even get to take their presents to some volunteers who are there to wrap the presents if they buy presents for other people."

Shoemaker says often times the children like to buy gifts for their family and friends in addition to gifts for themselves. For him the event perfectly reflects the police department's goals of community outreach.

"We've always been big proponents of community policing and this is an extension of that," Shoemaker said. "The more we can do with getting to address and deal with kids at a younger age that it doesn't have to be a negative contact. There are positive things. We're here to protect them."

Similarly, Captain John Hotz of the Missouri State Highway Patrol says participating in the event helps them reach out to the community.

"It's a great way to show our support to the community and help out those who are less fortunate and to help bring smiles to them at a time they may not otherwise have them," Hotz said.  

For Shoemaker, it's events like these that make the job worth it. 

"It's an early morning and it's just a lot of fun when you kind see these kids who are ready to go and see Santa and they're ready to go Christmas shopping," Shoemaker said. "Even 25 years in this business, it reminds you as to why you signed up and I encourage a lot of our officers to get more involved in these kinds of events because it reinforces that need reach out and to do the job for the right reasons." 

Community members can donate to the Operation T.O.Y.S fund throughout the year.

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Man pleads guilty to kidnapping, raping Kansas deputy http://www.komu.com/news/man-pleads-guilty-to-kidnapping-raping-kansas-deputy/ http://www.komu.com/news/man-pleads-guilty-to-kidnapping-raping-kansas-deputy/ News Fri, 15 Dec 2017 4:51:08 PM The Associated Press Man pleads guilty to kidnapping, raping Kansas deputy

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Blue Springs, Missouri, man has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and raping a sheriff's deputy in Johnson County, Kansas.

The Kansas City Star reports that 25-year-old William Luth will face a recommended sentence of more than 40 years in prison after entering the plea Friday. A second suspect, Brady Newman-Caddell, is due in court Thursday.

The attack happened in October 2016 outside the Johnson County Detention Center in Olathe. The female deputy testified at a preliminary hearing in February that she was on her way to work when a man punched her and forced her into a vehicle, where another man was in the driver's seat.

The deputy testified she was attacked by both men. Authorities say DNA testing was among the evidence linking the men to the crime.

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