“Neglect” a threat for Missouri State Penitentiary

I’ve been following the triumphs and troubles of the Missouri State Penitentiary since I did an extensive investigation on it a year ago. At first I was cheered to see the tourism board implementing a few of the funding solutions I had come across in my reporting. (Not that I believe that had anything to do with my reporting, obviously, I just think it shows that I managed to hit upon some truths.) Now, unfortunately, it looks like MSP is shutting down due to mold problems. The deterioration continues apace. I’m re-linking to my radio series here, which was broadcast on KBIA in May of 2012, and is sadly still relevant today:

“Neglect” a threat for Missouri State Penitentiary

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The oldest state prison west of the Mississippi sits dilapidated and crumbling in Jefferson City, Missouri. Despite its value as a tourist destination and historic landmark, the Missouri State Penitentiary might deteriorate to the point of shutting down permanently. Listen to the story on KBIA.org»

prison_wideshot Hear a former inmate’s story
One man’s historic building is another’s nightmarish living conditions. Former MSP inmate Joshua Kezer talks about what it was like to be incarcerated for 10 years in one of the oldest prisons in the U.S. Listen to the story on KBIA.org»
Other ancient prisons
The Missouri State Penitentiary is one of the oldest prisons in the country, but there are even older ones that survived both centuries of inmates and decades of decay. Learn about the variety of funding sources other groups came up with to keep other ancient prisons intact.

Thomas Jefferson’s influence on MU extends deep into university history

Sculptor George Lundeen cast a statue in bronze as a tribute to the third president of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia. View my audio, photo and text package for The Columbia Missourian»

View the entire multimedia project on The Quad»


10 plants to liven up your winter garden

Click the photo to view a gallery of 10 plants that add color to your winter garden.

It’s tough keeping a garden attractive in the winter, with nature working against you, but Sandy Schumacher, of the Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens in Everett, has some suggestions.

The key word is color. Several plants sprout flowers, berries and tinted leaves in winter. Others have unusually textured or colored bark, like the red twig dogwood, whose vibrant red branches easily stand out against ice or snow; or the paperbark maple, a tree whose light brown bark peels naturally off its trunk.

“Something like this, something a little different, always looks good in winter,” Schumacher said.

Gardeners should place certain attention-catchers like the paperbark maple in highly visible spots, perhaps just outside a window.

Keep in mind where you want your visitors’ eyes to be drawn, Schumacher said.

Another winter eye-catcher is the beautyberry. Dark purple berries dangle from this tree’s spindly white branches.

Like the paperbark maple, this is a tree that looks best when defoliated in winter, Schumacher said.

“This would be a beautiful thing to have visible from inside the house,” she said.

View a gallery of 10 plants that add color to a winter garden.

Even dead trees can be beautiful. Another unusual element Schumacher suggests is a stump or fallen tree, which can add a decorative touch without needing blossoms.

“Don’t throw your logs away,” Schumacher said.

She also advises gardeners to take a walk through nurseries or gardens such as the arboretum for ideas for winter plants.

“It pays to go through public gardens in winter,” she said.

The Evergreen Arboretum grows some plants specifically for winter such as a mahonia variety called Charity, which bears bright yellow bracts, or leaves, in December.

Another winter garden dazzler is a variety of heather, a short, bright red shrub, whose blooms last for several months. Different varieties of heather bloom in different seasons.

“They are out of this world in the winter because of that flaming color,” Schumacher said.

But winter color doesn’t just mean flashy. Evergreen perennials are also important, including hellebores and Japanese white pines.

“I never had an appreciation for evergreens until I came to the arboretum,” Schumacher said.

Some even develop new shades on their tips in the winter. Golden spreader Caucasian fir needles are accented by chartreuse, a shade of yellow-green that can add a bright shot of color to even the grayest of winter days.

Read the article on Heraldnet.com»

Kids learn Spanish, Sign Language, French before kindergarten

Nearly a third of all preschools in Columbia teach Spanish, Sign Language or French to their students. Reporters Samantha Sunne and Lukas Udstuen take a look at the reasons behind teaching a foreign language to children before they get to kindergarten.

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Fremont tour takes you for a walk on the funky side

The Fremont Tour is best defined as one part art history, one part local lore and several more parts street theater. For $18 a person, participants follow behind a pair of costumed tour guides who entertain, teach and pull pranks on their willing victims.

Read the full article on heraldnet.com»