KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com 8 Goes Green 8 Goes Green en-us Copyright 2020, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Mon, 17 Feb 2020 HH:02:ss GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com https://www.komu.com/ 144 25 STORM MODE UPDATE: Roller coaster storm system exits leaving icy roads behind https://www.komu.com/news/storm-mode-update-roller-coaster-storm-system-exits-leaving-icy-roads-behind/ https://www.komu.com/news/storm-mode-update-roller-coaster-storm-system-exits-leaving-icy-roads-behind/ 8 Goes Green Wed, 8 Jan 2020 7:30:57 PM Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist, Tim Schmidt & Matt Beckwith, KOMU 8 Meteorologist STORM MODE UPDATE: Roller coaster storm system exits leaving icy roads behind

**This is an outdated post from a storm system between January 10-12, 2020.**

MID-MISSOURI - The KOMU 8 First Alert Weather Team has been tracking a developing storm system since last Sunday, when it was just starting out near Alaska. Now it is moving through the region.

Friday night: Much of central and southern Missouri received 2" to 5" rainfall over the last 36 hours, leading to flooding throughout the Lake of the Ozarks, Rolla and communities near Jefferson City. Rain and storms are done. Now the focus shifts to winter weather.

Saturday morning: Freezing rain and sleet blanketed much of the area, as expected. As the afternoon wore on, the transition to snow came into play right on time with the forecast.

Saturday afternoon: Snow fell, heavy at times, to the accumulation of 1-3" for most in central Missouri. 


Morning temps will be near 20. Roads will be icy if not properly treated. 

Road crews should have ample time to treat roads overnight and on Sunday morning to create safe travel conditions by at least midday Sunday. The sun may also come out on Sunday and temps are expected to reach above freezing, also aiding in a good melting time period. You'll want to tune into KOMU 8 News Today on Sunday morning at 7am for a live look at road conditions. 

Please stay tuned to KOMU 8 Newscasts, KOMU.com/weather and the KOMU 8 Weather App on Apple and Android devices for more weather information so you're never caught off guard. We're here for you!


Closings and Cancellations

MoDot Road Surface Map

Interactive Radar

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Owner of "Big Tree" says vandalization is hurting it https://www.komu.com/news/owner-of-big-tree-says-vandalization-is-hurting-it/ https://www.komu.com/news/owner-of-big-tree-says-vandalization-is-hurting-it/ 8 Goes Green Sun, 23 Apr 2017 9:34:51 PM Austin Hough, KOMU 8 Reporter Owner of

COLUMBIA - Boone County's iconic "Big Tree" is being damaged by vandals spray painting its base, according to its owner, John Williamson.

Chemicals in the paint can damage the tree, but Williamson said taking it off sometimes causes more damage to the tree than the spray paint itself.

"Unfortunately, there's no good way to take that off. It would really be harder on the tree to remove any paint or anything like that."

That hasn't stopped Williamson and friends from covering up the spray paint. He and a friend, Ana Lopez, put mud over the spray paint to keep the tree looking in its best shape possible.

"It's a constant battle of educating people," Lopez said on how to prevent future vandalizing of the tree. "That's all we can really try to do, is educate people. Hopefully people will want to keep the tree alive a little longer and not continue to abuse on it."

Big Tree, which sits just south of the small town of McBane, is more than 300 years old. At 74 feet tall and 294 inches in circumference, it is the biggest bur oak tree in North America. It is not known how much longer the tree has until it dies.

"It's a living thing, just like humans. Eventually, it will die," Williamson said. "And that'll be really said."

Williamson is a sixth-generation owner of the property where Big Tree sits. His family has owned the property since 1835. He said that Big Tree is more than a tree for him.

"I see it everyday. It's like it's a part of the family." 

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Six local businesses recognized for sustainability efforts https://www.komu.com/news/six-local-businesses-recognized-for-sustainability-efforts/ https://www.komu.com/news/six-local-businesses-recognized-for-sustainability-efforts/ 8 Goes Green Fri, 21 Apr 2017 10:48:06 AM Jasmine Ramirez, KOMU 8 Reporter Six local businesses recognized for sustainability efforts

COLUMBIA –  The Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement Award was given to six businesses and organizations go "above and beyond" to operate in an environmentally-friendly manner.  

Many of the winners have made physical improvements towards sustainability.

Sustainability Manager Barbara Buffaloe said the businesses transitioned to more eco-friendly practices to save money and, “to make an improved footprint in the city of Columbia and on their organization.”

Fretboard Coffee received the Resource Conservation Award. The coffee shop uses organic coffee beans and biodegradable bags as well as furniture from recycled materials and local vendors.

The Columbia Mall was recognized for pollution prevention as it has reduced emissions by 26 percent since 2009.

The Environmental Stewardship award was granted to the Columbia Insurance Group for changes it has made in its offices. The insurance group uses only LED lighting and implemented environmentally-friendly standards for its employees. 

The Missouri River Relief Organization was recognized for its stewardship after cleaning up 876 tons of trash and taking on projects along the river.

True/False Film Festival and Dana Incorporated were recognized for having the best sustainably innovative business practices. The film festival took key steps to reduce its trash and recycle. Dana Incorporated has removed air leaks from its business and transitioned to only LED bulbs.

Services for Independent Living has continued to demonstrate its sustainability efforts and won the Mayor's Award. It won the Resource Conservation award last year. The facility recycles medical devices and has donated more than 900 of the devices to 680 people. 

Buffaloe said Columbia Power and Light offers loans and rebates for businesses interested in becoming more sustainable. 

Applications for the 2018 Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement Awards will open in August.

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Columbia's wind energy contract arouses some disputes https://www.komu.com/news/columbia-s-wind-energy-contract-arouses-some-disputes/ https://www.komu.com/news/columbia-s-wind-energy-contract-arouses-some-disputes/ 8 Goes Green Thu, 15 Dec 2016 11:36:56 AM Chris Green, KOMU 8 Reporter Columbia's wind energy contract arouses some disputes

COLUMBIA – Columbia residents will soon have another renewable resource providing them with energy, but not everyone agrees with the source of it.

The City Council recently approved a contract to purchase more energy from wind power in order to keep up with its renewable energy goals. While most of the council members agreed to raise the use of wind energy, Laura Nauser had a different opinion.

"I don't support wind. I think wind is a scourge on our planet," she said.

Nauser said she grew up in California and frequently saw “the ungodly look of windmills.” Additionally, she cited the American Audubon Society saying, “wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000-328,000 birds in North American alone.”

Council member Karl Skala countered both of those points.

“One person’s outrage at the aesthetics of what a windmill looks like is another person’s awe in what some of these fields of windmills actually do look like,” he said. “They do take their toll on some bird populations, although those numbers have been exaggerated to a great degree.”

Skala also commented on the wind technology, saying it’s “light years” ahead of fossil fuels. Council member Ian Thomas agreed.

“The benefits of wind energy as replacing fossil fuels are enormous and incomparable,” he said.

Columbia Water and Light spokesperson Connie Kacprowicz said most Columbia residents agree with the city’s renewable energy goals. She said the citizens passed a renewable energy mandate in 2004 with overwhelming support, but they don’t get to choose if it’s carried out.

“It’s kind of up to the City Council as far as whether we follow it or not,” she said. “[The council members] have the ultimate decision in this type of thing.”

The next deadline set by the mandate is to increase renewable energy usage to 15 percent by the end of 2017. Cacprowicz said the new contract should help to meet this goal.

The contract is with Crystal Lake III LLC in northern Iowa. Columbia has had a contract with the company since 2012, and the new contract will more than double the amount of energy purchased.

Columbia also buys energy from a wind farm in northwest Missouri, Bluegrass Ridge Wind Farm. Kacprowicz said the reason the city keeps contracting out of Iowa instead of staying in-state is both the price and the location.

“We’ve gone out for requests for proposals and tried to find the cheapest, but also in a place where we could easily get that wind energy delivered to Columbia,” she said.

Crystal Lake III is more than 300 miles away from Columbia, but Kacprowicz said its location allows for an easy transmission of energy.

According to Water and Light’s 2016 Renewable Energy Report, the energy from Crystal Lake III accounted for 2.18 percent of the city’s total sources of electricity.

The city previously bought 21 megawatts from the company, and the new contract will provide an extra 27 megawatts beginning in January, increasing to 45 megawatts in 2023.

The price will start at $19.55 per megawatt hour and will increase by 2 percent every year until the contract ends in 2032. The final price will be $26.31 per megawatt hour.

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Mizzou Women's Basketball gets hat trick of signees https://www.komu.com/news/mizzou-women-s-basketball-gets-hat-trick-of-signees/ https://www.komu.com/news/mizzou-women-s-basketball-gets-hat-trick-of-signees/ 8 Goes Green Wed, 9 Nov 2016 5:05:35 PM Matt Vereen, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer Mizzou Women's Basketball gets hat trick of signees

COLUMBIA – Mizzou Women’s Basketball announced three new additions to the 2017 recruiting class on Wednesday. Head Coach Robin Pingeton says Elle Brown (Columbia, Mo.), Kelsey Winfrey (Lebanon, Mo.) and Nadia Green (Homewood, Ill.) all signed letters to join the list of future Tigers.

Brown is the latest name to join the team from right here in Columbia, though she only transferred to Rock Bridge for her last high school season after success in Iowa at Johnston High School.

At Johnston, Brown saw plenty of success on the court. She averaged 11.9 points per game on the way to a school-record of 22 wins and a state runner-up finish.

She also earned a fair amount of attention on the track. Brown was a three-time Iowa State Champions qualifier in track and field and holds school records in the 400-meter sprint and sprint medley relay.

The success appears to run in the family. Brown is the daughter of former Mizzou Track & Field All-American and U.S. Olympian, Natasha Brown, and Assistant Athletic Director for the Mizzou Made program, Brian Brown.

Another in-state product, Winfrey is the most decorated girls basketball player in Lebanon High School history. The 5-foot-9 guard holds 21 school records after three seasons, including career points (1,425), career assists (212), career rebounds (579) and career steals (320). She was named 2016 First-Team All-State after averaging a school-record 21.2 points per game as a junior. She is also a three-time First-Team All-Ozark Conference selection, three-time First-Team All-District honoree and was a 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year finalist.

Winfrey chose Mizzou over interest from other big-name schools like North Carolina and Oklahoma State.

Green is a guard from the Chicago area, but has shown a versatile ability to play multiple positions during her career at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

Another 5-foot-9 guard, she averaged 15 points and six rebounds during her junior campaign. She earned 2016 IBCA Class 3A/4A Second-Team All-State honors and All-Conference recognition.

Mizzou Women's Basketball opens the 2016-17 season at Mizzou Arena on Friday, Nov. 11, against Abilene Christian as part of the Preseason WNIT. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.

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Columbia residents recycle half as much as national average https://www.komu.com/news/columbia-residents-recycle-half-as-much-as-national-average/ https://www.komu.com/news/columbia-residents-recycle-half-as-much-as-national-average/ 8 Goes Green Tue, 20 Sep 2016 9:41:35 PM Sarah Henzel, Komu 8 Reporter Columbia residents recycle half as much as national average

COLUMBIA - Residents of Columbia recycle at half the rate of the national average, at just 17 percent.

This has caused the Volunteer Specialist for the City of Columbia, Jody Cook, to take action by enlisting volunteers to join as recycling ambassadors for the city.

"We have a goal in Columbia to bring that up to 34 percent, which is the national average for municipalities, but we have a lot of work to do and the recycling ambassadors can make a big difference," Cook said.

The city currently has 23 active ambassadors, Cook said. They hope to teach the public about recycling.

"It's designed to educate volunteers about Columbia's recycling programs, proper recycling, techniques of recycling, alternatives for recycling items that the city of Columbia doesn't take, and in turn those recycling ambassadors go out and share their knowledge with others in hopes to bring up the recycling rate in Columbia," Cook said.

For Earl Dunn, a future recycling ambassador, the option seemed clear.

"I just feel like it's very easy and, if it helps our planet, I don't see why everybody wouldn't do it," Dunn said.

However, there are a few steps to recycling that may not be obvious, for instance, preparing bottles.

Cook said, "You need to take the cap off and rinse it lightly and then put the cap back on. The thing with the plastic caps is that they are recyclable, but they're small and they'll fall through the machines, they'll fall through everything if they're not contained on the bottle."

Another big problem, she said, is contamination. People need to make sure to empty the contents of metal cans, plastic containers or glass bottles before recycling them. Otherwise, it diminishes the value of the recyclables. 

Still, Cook said the option to recycle may be easier than people think.

"Recycling in general is that we all have a personal responsibility," she said. "We really do, and everybody needs to start understanding that and just like simple things like looking around. So many times there is a recycling bin right next to the trash can, and if you look in there, the trash can is full of recyclables."




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Asian lady beetles may create nuisance with "swarming behavior" https://www.komu.com/news/asian-lady-beetles-may-create-nuisance-with-swarming-behavior-/ https://www.komu.com/news/asian-lady-beetles-may-create-nuisance-with-swarming-behavior-/ 8 Goes Green Mon, 30 Nov 2015 9:02:32 AM Deja Shelby, KOMU 8 Reporter Asian lady beetles may create nuisance with

COLUMBIA — With colder weather upon us, mid-Missouri residents may start to notice an array of brightly colored, domed-shaped beetles lurking in the corners of their homes.

But have no fear — these pests are harmless. They’re the Asian lady beetles, and like many other insects, they’re simply searching for a sheltered place to escape the harsh conditions of the upcoming winter months, experts say.

Scientists call them the multi-colored Asian lady beetles. The U.S Department of Agriculture introduced this native of Asia into the United States in the 1970s as a control agent for the growing population of aphids and scale insects. It was later found in Missouri in 1993.

The Asian lady beetle is about a quarter-inch long, ranging in color from bright red to orange-yellow. Some have up to 19 spots, and some have no spots at all. Many of them have an M-shaped mark slightly behind their heads.

The Asian lady beetle is often mistaken for other beetle species in the insect family known as the lady beetle or lady bugs, said Rob Lawrence, a forest entomologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The Asian lady beetle’s swarming behavior makes this species more of a nuisance, Lawrence said.

“While many lady beetles often have this congregating swarming behavior, the multi-colored Asian lady beetle does it in large numbers and often poses a larger nuisance due to the fact that they are often attracted to buildings and homes,” he said.

Why Homes?

In their native Asian habitat, the lady beetle often found refuge in the vertical shafts of cliffs to escape the harsh conditions of winters. In Missouri, the vertical surfaces of many homes and other buildings mimic that natural environment.

“When lady beetles come into homes they’re not necessarily looking for warmth, because if they are warm all winter they would burn through their fat reserves and energy storage,” Lawrence said. Instead, they look for sheltered places like attics and wall cavities, which are still cool but don’t have the big fluctuations.

The beetles often enter a home through small gaps and crevices in the foundation.

“There are always a few reports that they do bite, but although they have biting mouthparts they are not harmful to people or animals,” Lawrence said. They don’t carry any diseases or reproduce in the winter months.

According to conservation department website, farmers and gardeners like the Asian lady beetle because it preys on aphids and other plant-destroying insects.


To combat the Asian lady beetle, the department recommends:

  • Seal cracks around all major entryways, such as doors, windows and utility pipes.
  • Check all windows for proper installation or screen tears.
  • In extreme cases, consider careful use of an insecticide.

If you have already started to notice these small colorful pests creeping in the corners of your home, don’t fret. There are many ways to properly dispose of them.

The most common is to sweep or vacuum them up, but be aware that they often release a stink that many homeowners find hard to eliminate. They can also leave behind a stain.

Lawrence and other entomologists urge homeowners to remember that the beetles are important to the evolutionary cycle of the insect world. So next time you see a swarm of lady beetles hiding in the corner of your home, try to release them back into the outside world, they recommend.

For more information on the Asian lady beetle go to to the University of Missouri Extension website.

(Editor's note: This story's headline has been updated to correct a misspelling.)


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Macon officials dedicate solar farm https://www.komu.com/news/macon-officials-dedicate-solar-farm/ https://www.komu.com/news/macon-officials-dedicate-solar-farm/ 8 Goes Green Wed, 1 Jul 2015 2:23:48 PM Chris Gothner, KOMU 8 Reporter Macon officials dedicate solar farm

MACON - Macon officials, along with officials from Gardner Capital and MC Power Companies, officially dedicated the city's 10,800-panel solar farm Wednesday. 

The farm provides power to 35 Missouri cities that are part of the Missouri Public Energy Pool (MoPEP). Aside from Macon, mid-Missouri cities set to receive power from the farm include Fayette, Hermann, Marshall, Salisbury and Vandalia. According to MC Power, the solar farm, which began producing power for Macon in May, is expected to generate an estimated 4,990 MWh of power annually, enough to meet the needs of 300 homes. 

Stephanie Wilson, general manager of Macon Municipal Utilities, said Macon currently generates about 12 percent of its power from renewable sources. She said the solar power farm will not bring a major increase to its renewable energy percentage but is an incremental step.

"3.2 megawatts, it doesn't increase it very much," Wilson said. "It's a good size project for our town and for our peak use of electricity."

Wilson said additional solar farms in Trenton and Marshall, which are part of MoPEP, will add additional solar power into Macon's grid. 

"It's 3.2 megawatts today, but those towns are adding 3.2 megawatts in their towns as well," Wilson said. "It makes more of our portfolio a renewable energy source." 

Macon mayor Dale Bagley said the farm reflects his city's committment to green energy. 

"The City of Macon is really interested in green energy," Bagley said. "We make our contribution to the safe, clean energy for the citizens of the United States and Macon. It sounds kind of grandiose, but that's the way we think about it." 

Loren Williamson, a vice president at MC Power, said Macon stood out among MoPEP cities for its willingness to take on the solar farm project.

"They showed a great deal of interest, the community was behind it, they had a perfect site behind their industrial park," Williamson said.

Bagley said solar power is just one form of energy the city intends to use in the coming years. He said the city also plans to capture methane from nearby landfill gas. Wilson said landfill gas energy is still years away. 

"We do have a landfill a few miles away from Macon," Wilson said. "There's not quite enough methane yet to transfer that landfill gas into electricity."  

According to MC Power, groundbreaking on a second solar farm is scheduled for Wednesday, July 8 in Trenton. The Trenton solar farm is expected to open in 2016. 

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a misspelling.) 

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National guard truck crashes into overpass https://www.komu.com/news/national-guard-truck-crashes-into-overpass/ https://www.komu.com/news/national-guard-truck-crashes-into-overpass/ 8 Goes Green Thu, 25 Jun 2015 1:35:02 PM Blair Ussary, KOMU 8 Reporter National guard truck crashes into overpass

FULTON - A national guard semi-truck crashed Thursday morning into the Highway 54 overpass in Fulton.

The guard was passing through carrying a truck on the back of the semi when the truck's cab collided with the overpass. Highway patrolman Scott White said it was an oversized load.

Sergeant Charles Wickes, one of the men in the truck, said the bridge didn't have any markings to tell how high it was.

"We needed about 15' 9" to clear it," Wickes said. "And apparently this bridge is 15' 6". But there wasn't any sign on the bridge saying how low it was."

MoDOT did an inspection on the bridge, but found it to be safe for drivers. 

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Missouri among top 20 states with deficient rural roads https://www.komu.com/news/missouri-among-top-15-states-with-deficient-rural-roads/ https://www.komu.com/news/missouri-among-top-15-states-with-deficient-rural-roads/ 8 Goes Green Tue, 19 May 2015 10:40:51 AM James Packard, KOMU 8 Digital Producer and Dani Sureck, KOMU 8 Reporter Missouri among top 20 states with deficient rural roads

COLUMBIA - Missouri's rural roads need improvement, according to a report released Tuesday from TRIP, a national transportation research group.

Missouri ranks 15th in the country for percentage of rural pavement roads that are in poor condition and Missouri's rural bridges are the 10th most structurally deficient, the report said.

TRIP, based in Washington D.C., said 21 percent of Missouri's rural roads are in poor condition and 15 percent of Missouri's rural bridges are structurally deficient.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, told TRIP, "Deteriorated and deficient rural roads and bridges are hindering our nation's agricultural goods from reaching markets at home and abroad and slowing the pace of economic growth in rural America."

The report comes as Missouri's legislature put a debate over MoDOT's budget deficiency on hold with the end of the legislative session Friday. MoDOT said earlier in the year it would have to reduce its construction budget significantly for improving Missouri's highway system.

Chief Engineer of MoDOT Ed Hassinger said they need money to match federal funds in order to create a program to maintain and improve roads and bridges.

"Every year we need about 485 million dollars on just to keep all the roads and bridges in the condition they are today," Hassinger said. "With our budget moving forward we're only going to have about 325 million."

Hassinger said the deficit will lead to roads worsening since they won't have sufficient funds to repair roads.

"Those roads are the lifeblood of a big part of our state for all things like economic development, for people to be able to live and work," Hassinger said. "It's important we have good, safe roads."

While organizations like TRIP call for an improvement to the country's rural roadways, one truck driver told KOMU 8 News Missouri's highways stack up well against the rest of the country.

"I've been to all 48 contiguous states right now and I'd say Missouri stands up quite well compared to the rest," truck driver Clint Trentman said. "It was a rough winter in most parts of the country. The freeze and thaw damages the roads and places like Tennessee and Arkansas right now are awful. They've actually closed certain lanes on I-40 just because of the potholes. They're so bad."

The report included 19 other states with poor rural road conditions. According to TRIP, Michigan had the highest percentage of rural roads in poor condition, Pennsylvania had the highest percentage of structurally deficient rural bridges and Connecticut had the highest fatality rate on rural roads.


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New environmental coalition celebrates in Earth Day rally https://www.komu.com/news/new-environmental-coalition-celebrates-in-earth-day-rally/ https://www.komu.com/news/new-environmental-coalition-celebrates-in-earth-day-rally/ 8 Goes Green Wed, 22 Apr 2015 2:57:06 PM Christian Piekos, KOMU 8 Reporter New environmental coalition celebrates in Earth Day rally

JEFFERSON CITY - Missourians met today in the Capitol to celebrate both Earth Day and the beginning of the Missouri Clean Energy Coalition (MCEC).

The coalition is pushing for Missouri to transition from reliance on fossil fuels to different forms of clean energy, specifically wind and solar.

The coalition comprises various organizations from around the state, including the Missouri Sierra Club, Renew Missouri and Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

Some of MCEC's goals include:

  • Making energy conservation and efficiency a priority
  • Shift from jobs dependent on fossil fuels
  • Secure a clean energy economy

Dr. John Kissel, a member of the Sierra Club, said today's rally aimed to push for movement toward a cleaner Missouri.

"This was an effort to organize people so that we can get some action on what is clearly the will of the people of Missouri," Kissel said. "We want to reduce green house gasses and to increase the use of renewable energy."

According to Kissel, the state relies too much on the use of fossil fuels, hitting a number above the national average.

"Missouri generates 80 percent of its electricity by burning coal," Kissel said. "The figure for the nation as a whole is 40 percent. We would like to see Missouri move in the direction of the rest of the country."

As a retired physician, Kissel said he is very concerned about the health effects of burning coal as a source for energy.

"We have people dying every year any many people being hospitalized and illnesses because of pollution from coal," Kissel said.

He said he is anxious about Missouri transitioning to cleaner energy in the near future.

"I think the Missouri House is dominated by people who seem to be more interested in what other lobbyists have to say about energy than they are about the health and welfare of the people," Kissel said.

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Breaking research on propane could mean a cleaner future https://www.komu.com/news/breaking-research-on-propane-could-mean-a-cleaner-future/ https://www.komu.com/news/breaking-research-on-propane-could-mean-a-cleaner-future/ 8 Goes Green Fri, 10 Apr 2015 5:18:33 PM Spencer Wilson, KOMU 8 Reporter Breaking research on propane could mean a cleaner future

COLUMBIA - In a world where cheap, clean, sustainable energy is a primary target, science just made one step closer to such a fuel.

A report from Manchester University in England states researchers have been working on creating a bio-fuel type of propane in order to create an efficient and sustainable propane production process.

Bio/Chemical Engineer with the University of Missouri Bill Jacoby said the benefits of this new process could be huge. 

"The supply of natural gas is a fundamental issue with climate change and fossil fuel usage remains {high}, natural gas is also a fossil fuel." Jacoby said. "Therefore something like a renewable pathway to propane could be quite advantageous."

So far, the researchers are still working, but a significant breakthrough involving synthetic pathways will enable renewable bio-synthesis.

Jacoby said because the researchers are working on a microscopic level, they would need to increase the scale of their production by 900 percent in order for it to be useful. 

Although it still would take some time to come to fruition, Jacoby said the work so far was very important and hoped it would continue. 

From an environmental standpoint, Peace Works coordinator Mark Haim said the way researchers are putting together the propane in the first place is the most important information.

"Because they didn't state how they processed the propane in the study, I can't really speak to the effects on the environment in terms of it's usage as a fuel source," Haim said.

Haim did say propane is a very clean gas, and as long as the process that was creating the propane in the first place was also efficient, clean and sustainable, that would be quite the victory for a greener future. 

Executive Director of Missouri Gas Propane Association Steve Ahrens said Missouri was one of the leading users of propane in terms of the household. 

"Our state is within the top 12 states in terms of propane usage," Ahrens said. "About 10 percent of our homes heat themselves with propane."

Until scientists are able to use the pathways to create the propane more efficiently, Jacoby said propane wouldn't really be an option.

"Hopefully people stop using fossil fuels on their own because they understand it isn't good for the environment," Jacoby said. "But if we get to the point where we can't dig anything else up, this research is going to be very important."


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City leaders, GRO Missouri urge new look at power plant contract https://www.komu.com/news/city-leaders-gro-missouri-urge-new-look-at-power-plant-contract/ https://www.komu.com/news/city-leaders-gro-missouri-urge-new-look-at-power-plant-contract/ 8 Goes Green Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:45:22 PM Amanda LaBrot, KOMU 8 Reporter City leaders, GRO Missouri urge new look at power plant contract

COLUMBIA - City leaders and GRO Missouri want the city to reevaluate its long-term contract with a major coal burning power plant. 

Columbia signed a 40-year contract with Prairie State Energy Campus, in Marissa, Ill., in 2006 to provide the city with coal- generated energy.  The city buys about a quarter of its energy from Prairie State, and Councilperson Ian Thomas and Gretchen Maune of GRO Missouri said they had some concerns.

"It's a 40-year contract. That's a long time to keep using coal power with global warming and everything else, " Maune said.

Thomas said, "In addition to locking us into burning fossil fuels for the next forty years, thereby undermining our ability to transition to clean energy, this contract gives us no ability to negotiate the price of the energy we purchase."

Connie Kacprowicz of Columbia Water and Light said it's financially safer to "lock in" some of the city's energy contracts to ensure a set rate, but Thomas and Maune said the rate has regularly been higher than the price set in the contract.

"In the first few years of actual operations, we have regularly paid more than twice the rate "promised" by Prairie State," Thomas said. 

Maune agreed, "The prices they've been charging us have regularly been twice as much as it was going to be, and a few times, it's been three times as much as what they told us it was going to be. Well over $100 per megawatt hour."

Kacprowicz said these numbers are from 2013, and don't accurately represent what's gong on now.

Manue said three city council members, Karl Skala, Barbara Hoppe and Thomas are working with GRO Missouri to evaluate the contract. 

"The council members I mentioned agreed to meet with an attorney to look at the contract, and see about the possibilities of getting out of it."

GRO Missouri also has environmental concerns about burning coal over such a long period of time. The plant wasn't completed or functioning until 2012, and because the plant is newer, Columbia Water and Light said it's more likely to be in line with the newest emission guidelines. Kacprowicz said the city is already using several renewable energy sources, and is above the amount required for the by 2014. She said renewable energy is important, but a more reliable, constant energy is needed.

"Electricity is something that you can't store," Kacprowicz said. "So it makes it a lot more complicated, and that's why there's federal guidelines on reliability. We certainly don't want to get to the point where we don't have the power when it's being demanded and have to do either rolling brown outs or blackouts."

Manue submitted a petition to the city council earlier this month asking for a public hearing with Peabody Energy, the owner of Prairie Energy Campus.

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Missouri paddlefish fingerlings still vulnerable https://www.komu.com/news/missouri-paddlefish-fingerlings-still-vulnerable/ https://www.komu.com/news/missouri-paddlefish-fingerlings-still-vulnerable/ 8 Goes Green Sun, 15 Mar 2015 5:39:21 PM By Paige Blankenbuehler, KOMU 8 Reporter Missouri paddlefish fingerlings still vulnerable

SWEET SPRINGS - As the annual paddlefish snagging season began Sunday, conservation biologists got more creative in their management strategies of the vulnerable fish.

This year, a new Missouri Department of Conservation five-year program asks anglers to report fish they snag that have numbered metal jaw tags. About 2,000 paddlefish each in the Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake and Table Rock Lake are swimming around with the tags, meant to monitor their populations.

Still, amid yearly efforts to restock and manage the populations of this prehistoric fish, a threat looms: poachers.

In 2013, a ring of caviar poachers was caught in a successful sting operation by the conservation department's protection division. The operation brought in $61,488.50 in fines for poaching the paddlefish, sometimes called Missouri's "spoonbill."

Rob Farr, an investigator with the department's protection division in Benton County, has a long history monitoring the poaching threat, which has persisted since the 1980s. Farr was on the investigative team in 2013, and said even with the latest round of fines and charges, the poaching threat to paddlefish remains a concern in Missouri.

"It was a good operation here and we caught a lot of people that needed to be caught and taught a lot of people lessons they needed to learn," Farr said. "I don't think we stopped it, no I don't - that's like saying you think you stopped the drug trade by making a drug bust. You do the best you can to contain it."

It's a cause for concern given the ongoing effort to sustain the paddlefish population.

In preparation for the 2015 season, thousands of baby paddlefish - fingerlings, as they're called - were harvested from Blind Pony Fish Hatchery in Sweet Springs in September. They were transferred to the three nearby lakes to boost their populations.

Bucket by bucket, 10-inch fingerlings moved from hatchery ponds to a conservation department truck. Department and Blind Pony Hatchery staff scooped up more than 12,000 fish at the hatchery Sept. 23 and 24 alone (watch video).

The hotspot for the poaching incidents is not far away in Benton County - the nucleus of illicit activity is in Warsaw, Mo., the so-called "paddlefish poaching capital of the world."

Trish Yasger, fisheries management biologist with the department, hopes that the new tagging program combined with restocking efforts will keep the paddlefish population intact.

"Without annual stocking by Conservation Department staff, this popular pastime and food source would go away," Yasger said in a recent news release. "We manage and monitor paddlefish populations around the state, but need help from snaggers to learn more and to better manage this popular game fish."

Paddlefish poaching, by the numbers

Larry Yamnitz protection division chief for the conservation department, oversaw the 2013 investigation alongside Farr. Yamnitz told a reporter in October that the paddlefish population in 2010 through 2013 had been "hit pretty hard illegally," but the poaching problem seems to be slowly improving.

During the 2013 sting, 11 people were arrested, accounting for 256 state charges.

Of the state charges, 240 of the 256 have been decided through Missouri courts. Most resulted in fines or minor jail sentences, Yamnitz said.

Yamnitz said six people are still awaiting trial on state charges, and there are still a few people from outside of Missouri with warrants out for their arrest

Eight people were charged and more than 100 people were also issued citations "in the bust that culminated a multi-year investigation into the illegal commercialization of Missouri paddlefish and their eggs for caviar," according to a press release by the Justice Department.

Eight defendants are involved in 16 pending federal cases.

Although most of the charges from the 2013 sting have been decided, an accelerated jury trial for Andrew Alexander Praskovsky, who was charged with two felony counts of "import or exports of fish, wildlife or plants," is set for March 30 in Jefferson City, according to a Western District of Missouri case docket.

Others facing federal charges for buying paddlefish and processing the eggs into caviar are Arkadiy Lvovskiy, 51, of Aurora, Colo.; Dmitri Elitchev, 46, of Centennial, Colo.; Artour Magdessian, 46, of Lone Tree, Colo.; Felix Baravik, 48, of Aurora, Colo.; Petr Babenko, 42, of Vineland, N.J.; and Bogdan Nahapetyan, 33, of Lake Ozark. Fedor Pakhnyuk, 39, of Hinsdale, Ill., faces charges on trying to set up a business to market processed paddlefish caviar in Chicago, the Associated Press reported.

Preserving paddlefish populations
Yamnitz considers the sting operation an important step in addressing the poaching problem.

"The investigation caught the problem and we have been able to put more paddlefish into the population," Yamnitz said in an interview in November. "We're not concerned about putting fish back in there because we think we've been successful in educating people - someone is going to turn you in if you do it."

The state's paddlefish population is healthy currently, Yamnitz said.

Still, the illegal trade has the potential for healthy payout. A pregnant paddlefish can weigh anywhere from 50 to more than 100 pounds and typically has about 20 pounds of eggs. Caviar is harvested from those eggs and sold for as much as $35 an ounce.

A single paddlefish typically nets about $4,000 worth of caviar.

The poaching problem arrived in Mid-Missouri when the Caspian Sea was exhausted of much of the world's source for the high-brow hors d'oeuvre, said Yasger, an expert on paddlefish and fisheries management.

"The Caspian Sea has been fished out, and paddlefish eggs are a good substitute," Yasger said. "Less and less of the world's caviar has been harvested there since the 1980s."

Yasger said paddlefish normally take about seven years to reach sexual maturity, although some fish take up to nine years. The bigger the fish, the more eggs it will produce. The average size ranges from 40 to 75 pounds, but paddlefish, especially females, typically reach 100 pounds or more.

The state record is a 139-pound paddlefish.

Yamnitz and Farr can only guess how much caviar poachers illegally exported over the years.

"It's difficult to say for sure, Yamnitz said. "We think we caught an active poaching group before they were able to impact the populations of paddlefish significantly."

"I agree, there's no one way of knowing," Farr said. "There would have been tremendous amount."

The snagging season runs from March 15 through April 30, but there's no guarantee the new tag program and continuous restocking will keep every spoonbill away from illegal harvesting, experts say.

"As long as there's demand for the caviar, the poaching is going to be a problem for this fish," Yasger said.

Rewards for tags

According to a press release from the conservation department, anglers who report tagged, legal-sized paddlefish will receive a t-shirt that reads: "I caught a Missouri paddlefish!"

Rewards will not be given for sublegal fish - it's illegal to catch paddlefish less than 24 inches in length.

"All returned and reported tags for the season will be placed into drawings each summer for a small number of cash prizes with a grand prize of $500," Yasger said in the press release.

Tags can be reported by calling (573)579-6825, or by mailing information to the Missouri Department of Conservation at 3815 East Jackson Boulevard., Jackson, Mo., 63755.



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Local nonprofits clash over proposed trail plans https://www.komu.com/news/local-nonprofits-clash-over-proposed-trail-plans/ https://www.komu.com/news/local-nonprofits-clash-over-proposed-trail-plans/ 8 Goes Green Fri, 13 Mar 2015 3:51:18 PM Hannah Lazo & Berkeley Lovelace Jr., KOMU 8 Reporters Local nonprofits clash over proposed trail plans

COLUMBIA - Local organizations have been clashing with the city and with each other, when it comes to deciding the fate of the Hinkson Creek Valley.

PedNet Coalition and It's Our Wild Nature would like to see the GetAbout Columbia funds for the Shepard to Rollins Trail Connection used on different routes.

The city council has four options on the table.

· Option one would include construction of a sidewalk along Bluff Dale Drive to Southwood Drive, and then Southwood Drive would connect with a bike lane on Old 63. A portion of this option would involve constructing a trail through the valley. It would cost $700,000 which is the least expensive of the four.

· Option two would allow an east-west trail constructed between Old 63 and Rollins Street with an entrance south of Shepard Boulevard. The trail would switchback into the valley, run through it, and then back up the other side. Option 2 would cost about $1.5 million.

· Option three would include construction of a new trail running north-south from the new Hinkson Creek bridge down to the northwest corner of the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Old 63. It would then connect with existing pathways. It is estimated to cost $2.2 million.

· Option four includes updating existing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure on Stadium between Ashland Road and Old 63. It is the only option that does not go through the Hinkson Creek Valley. It is estimated to cost $900,000.

Lawrence Simonson, assistant director of PedNet Coalition, said he would like to see option one or option three selected by the city council. If either option were constructed, it would involve building a trail through the valley.

"When we've taken a look at different trail systems, and or the trail options, reviewed the engineering study, we have decided that options one and three have the greatest potential for mode shift," Simonson said. "That's getting people out of their cars and using trails for transportation."

Barbara Wren, executive director of It's Our Wild Nature, said she would like to see more people riding their bikes, but would like to see the valley, which borders her neighborhood, remain untouched.

"Option four stays up on the established pedway on Old 63," Wren said. "So we hope they would build a sheltered pedway for walkers and wheelchairs and there is room for an additional bike lane so you would feel like you are protected from the cars."

The Columbia City Council will make a decision March 16.

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Volunteers train to educate others about recycling https://www.komu.com/news/volunteers-train-to-educate-others-about-recycling-66646/ https://www.komu.com/news/volunteers-train-to-educate-others-about-recycling-66646/ 8 Goes Green Sat, 7 Mar 2015 10:35:38 AM Chris Gothner, KOMU 8 Reporter Volunteers train to educate others about recycling

COLUMBIA - The city of Columbia trained new Recycling Ambassadors Saturday. Recycling Ambassadors are citizen volunteers who educate other citizens about recycling and waste reduction. 

The Recycling Ambassadors program is designed to foster communication between recyclers and those who don't recycle, said Volunteer Program Specialist Andrea Shelton. 

"It's very difficult to convert a non-recycler to a recycler," said Shelton. "Hearing this information from a city employee may be a little more difficult to digest than hearing it from another ordinary citizen who recycles."

According to the city's website, Columbia has a recycling diversion rate, the percentage of items recycled and not placed in the landfill, of 17 percent. Its rate is well below the national average of 34.5 percent. 

Columbia resident Barbara Shaffer said she wants to become a Recycling Ambassador to make a difference.

"I was interested in making my carbon footprint a little smaller," said Shaffer. "And I was eager to take it beyond me to see if there are other people I could convince." 

Shaffer said she wasn't sure just how to encourage fellow citizens to recycle before she attended the training.

"Maybe this is one of the things that will help stimulate me to understand how I can help," she said. "I think I'll be eager to encourage other people in my own life."  

To learn how you can volunteer, visit the city's website. 

(Editor's note: This story has been updated with clarifications.)

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New study finds health risks with stopping at red lights https://www.komu.com/news/new-study-finds-health-risks-with-stopping-at-red-lights/ https://www.komu.com/news/new-study-finds-health-risks-with-stopping-at-red-lights/ 8 Goes Green Fri, 13 Feb 2015 5:51:01 PM Spencer Wilson, KOMU 8 Reporter New study finds health risks with stopping at red lights

COLUMBIA - Now there's even more fuel for your hatred of waiting at red lights. 

A new report out of the University of Surrey in England shows stopping at red lights while driving exposes people to high levels of air pollutants. 

The report is based on a daily average driving time of an hour and a half, and says even though people only spend 2 percent of that time at lights, 25 percent of the harmful particles the driver will inhale are during that time. 

These are big numbers for people like Cindy Delisle of Columbia, who said she notices the car pollutants pretty often. 

"Big trucks obviously, a lot of construction, 18 wheelers, and just diesel pickup trucks are no fun to sit behind," Delisle said. 

Urgent Care physician Kieth Groh said the amount of pollutants people take in can cause some serious health issues.

"Any artificial substances, like pollutants, into your lungs is undesirable," Dr. Groh said. "The effects can vary depending if you have an increased risk for having adverse effects, some of those can be immediate, if you have an allergic reaction to the car pollutants, or just slight irritants."

Groh said the pollutants have troubling short-term and long-term effects on the human body.

"Accumulative effects are probably one of the biggest issues," Dr. Groh said. "You look at the short-term which is acute irritant or allergic or asthmatic attack issues. But more the long-term, it's hard to tell what these things are doing to our bodies."

While it's difficult to avoid all air pollutants, the reports suggest keeping your windows rolled up when you are in congested traffic stops.

Looking forward, Delisle said she sees an answer to the problem. 

"I think people are working on it every day. It's green energy, working on different ways to make the cars run. I think that's where the answer is going to be as far as making less emission in the environment." 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct grammar mistakes.]

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Sierra Club faces challenges with plastic bag ban ordinance https://www.komu.com/news/sierra-club-faces-challenges-with-plastic-bag-ban-ordinance/ https://www.komu.com/news/sierra-club-faces-challenges-with-plastic-bag-ban-ordinance/ 8 Goes Green Mon, 9 Feb 2015 1:05:45 AM Nick Hehemann, KOMU 8 Reporter Sierra Club faces challenges with plastic bag ban ordinance

COLUMBIA - Carolyn Amparan has been passionate about environment-friendly policies for quite a while, but was never extremely active until a few years ago.

"Before that, I was kind of what you would call an email activist," Amparan said. 

Now, as the chair for the Osage Group of the Missouri Sierra Club, she is leading the push for an ordinance set to reach the city council that would ban single-use plastic bags from grocery stores in Columbia. 

Amparan said changes are needed to eliminate what she calls the waste of resources that can be harmful for the environment.

But, she said raising awareness isn't always easy. 

"Of course, there are a lot of people that are opposed to it, people who are set in their ways," Amparan said. "They're used to the plastic bags."

Some residents are also opposed to the ten cent cost associated with the ordinance that stores would be able to charge customers for having to buy paper bags. 

"It's just an extra ten cents," said Rickey Christian, a Columbia resident. "You go to a store, you buy food and pay an extra ten cents. It's just inconvenient."

But, Amparan said the purpose of the fee is to encourage customers to reuse bags.  

"You don't want to just drive people from using plastic to paper," she said. "The goal is to get people to understand that the best choice for sustainable living is a reusable bag."

One resident said the unfamiliar policies tend to make people hesitate to support them. 

"People have a fear of change and feel sometimes that that will impose on their freedom," Eric Pherigo, a Columbia resident for the last seven years, said.

Although it's a new concept for Columbia, the plastic bag ban has already passed in several cities around the United States. 

Even in the Midwest, ordinances similar to the one in Columbia have already passed in Chicago, Evanston, Illinois and Marshall County, Iowa, in the past six years. 

California issued the nation's first statewide ban late in 2014.

Amparan said while Missouri is rarely considered a leader in environment-friendly policies, Columbia is different. 

"Columbia has curbside recycling, bike paths and all those great walking trails," Amparan said. "Columbia is a more environmentally-friendly city than perhaps some of the rest of Missouri."

This is in part why Pherigo said the passing of the ordinance wouldn't surprise him.

"All this stuff like the bags, it's all doable," he said. "I think once people can make that change, they will be more supportive of it."

On February 8, Amparan and other Sierra Club members stood outside the Missouri River Relief's Wild and Scenic Film Festival at the Blue Note to encourage people to sign a petition for the ordinance.

Amparan wore an outfit composed of 500 plastic bags to show the number that an average shopper goes through in a year. 

The Columbia City Council is scheduled to have its first reading on the ordinance on Monday. 

Unless the ordinance is tabled, a vote will likely take place in the beginning of March.

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E-Waste collections down https://www.komu.com/news/e-waste-collections-down/ https://www.komu.com/news/e-waste-collections-down/ 8 Goes Green Thu, 12 Feb 2015 4:44:28 PM Lina Young, KOMU 8 Reporter E-Waste collections down

COLUMBIA - Mid Mo Recycling is one of only two electronic recycling centers in Boone County. The center has been open since 2001. President, Stan Fredrick, says the center accepts everything with a cord or battery. 

"We're shipping off, typically, a semi-truck full of items. So, we're receiving in about a week's time - a week to ten days - about 25 to 30 thousand pounds," Fredrick said. 

The electronic items collected are sorted through. The items eligible for resale are kept and the other items are shipped off to various locations to be disposed of in environmentally-friendly ways. 

Waste Minimization Supervisor Layli Terrill said that the city does not have space to collect the electronics, so places like Mid Mo Recycling are good ways to keep the environment safer.

"Currently, the city would not have a place to recycle these electronics, but we understand the importance of keeping them out of the landfill," Terrill said.  

The center holds e-waste collection events 3 to 4 times a year in the Home Depot parking lot in Columbia. 

"The main reason behind recycling the e-waste is that e-waste has a lot of heavy metals in it. Those things should not go into the landfill, so we're trying to have a cooperative effort with Mid Mo Recycling to keep these items out of our landfill," Terrill said.

The most recent event held in late January received over 25,000 pounds of e-waste, but that number is much lower than the 70,000 pounds the events usually collect. 

Terrill said the weather is a major factor in whether the events are successful. The weather did not play a factor in the last event.

The next event is to be held around May. A date has not yet been set. 

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Report finds new material for cheaper solar panels https://www.komu.com/news/report-finds-new-material-for-cheaper-solar-panels/ https://www.komu.com/news/report-finds-new-material-for-cheaper-solar-panels/ 8 Goes Green Fri, 23 Jan 2015 6:40:02 PM Spencer Wilson, KOMU 8 Reporter Report finds new material for cheaper solar panels

COLUMBIA - Solar power has long been a popular, albeit expensive way to provide clean energy.

But a new report out of the University of Exeter in England shows a new way to make the same clean energy that will cost less.

Perovskite, a mineral that is being used in experiments with solar panels, and it's showing promising results.

Perovskite is less expensive than silicon or film based technologies currently being used to create solar cells for the panels, and the components needed to make it are far more common. Lead recycled in old car batteries is just one of the potential ingredients for the new compound.

Solar panels create energy using photovoltaic cells, turning sunlight into power. It is shown to be a popular energy source with environmentalists because it doesn't release by-products like fossil fuels.

Cameron Etheridge with Energy Link says while the cheaper panels aren't on the market just yet, people can expect them soon.

"Lots of different universities are working with perovskite right now, with a lot of different ingredients and results," Etheridge said. "Some are even looking into a coating that you could attach to solar panels already in the field that would double their output."

Tom O'Conner is on the board of Water and Light in Columbia and said cheaper prices would be great for Columbia.

"We are already set to get more solar panels within the next year, so cheaper can always help," he said.

While O'Conner's roof is covered in shade, he still has ten solar panels in his front yard, suspended on wood planks.

"They just bring me a lot of joy, it's just this gorgeous iridescent blue material that just sits there in the sun and shoves out clean energy." O'Conner said. "It's just falling out of the sky and there it is, and it's just very satisfying to be more self-sufficient."

While the report does say perovskite has a large potential to lower costs of solar panels, it is still in question if the material will be able to create stable solar cells under different climate conditions.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct grammatical errors.]

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