Wednesday, January 23, 2008

VILLAGE VOICEOVER: News for the North Central Village

1) St. Francis House Leader Lana Jacobs Ousted
2) Village Home Among Historic Preservation Honorees

St. Francis House Leader Lana Jacobs Ousted

BEAT BYTE (January 23) -- Allegations of loan fraud, secret bank accounts, unpaid bills, and donation misappropriation have led to the ouster of nationally-known social justice activist Lana Jacobs as director of St. Francis House, Z. Lois Bryant House, and Loaves and Fishes, three of Columbia's best-known social service organizations.

"Lana Jacobs, the person who was in charge of financial matters, and who is solely responsible for the misuse of funds, has left our Catholic Worker community," members of the St. Francis Catholic Worker Community (SFCWC), including Jacobs' husband Steve, wrote in a January 17, 2008 letter to supporters. "She is no longer affiliated with the St. Francis Catholic Worker."

Jacobs, the letter alleges, "made unauthorized transfers" between business and personal bank accounts she had "secretly opened" for her own use. To obtain a loan, she "engaged in fraudulent real estate transactions that made it appear that Lois Bryant House was titled as her private property."

County records show both St. Francis House and Z. Lois Bryant House, at 901 and 913 Rangeline respectively, titled in trusts, with Jacobs listed as "Trustee" on the Lois Bryant deed. Both houses provide long and short-term shelter for homeless persons.

"Lana continues to claim that she received no financial gain as a result of her actions," the letter continues. "Unfortunately, our trust in her has been destroyed."

Jacobs has had a long and colorful career as an activist and agitator for social justice causes. In 2005, authorities in Florida arrested her for trying to bring brain injury patient Terry Schiavo a bottle of water after doctors disconnected her life support systems.

"These events have left us reeling because our most visible and trusted community member repeatedly lied and concealed her improper financial activities from us," the SFCWC letter says. "We ask for your understanding, your patience and your prayers as we sort through this situation and seek a way to keep providing hospitality to people in need."

"St. Francis House is an important institution in North Central Village," North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association president Linda Rootes said in an email. "This turn of events has obviously shaken our neighbors and threatens their ability to serve the homeless. I pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen and guide them as they reorganize to carry out their important ministry. I also pray for Lana."

Village Home Among Historic Preservation Honorees

BEAT BYTE (January 23) -- 214 St. Joseph Street in the Village, a ca 1900 owned by Elizabeth Westergaard, will be among this year's most notable historic properties honorees at a gala reception on Tuesday, February 5th at the Tiger Hotel (7 pm).

The public is invited to a celebration that will see Columbia's Historic Preservation Commission honoring its 100th notable property, the oldest house in Columbia.

Built in 1825, 1601 Stoney Brook Place is now owned by Gregory and Linda Bartels.

The North Central Village plays host to over a dozen notable historic properties, all of which will also be on display.

Here's who else made the list for 2008:

211 Hitt Street -- The Beverly Apartments
206 Hitt Street -- The Belvedere Apartments
214 St. Joseph Street -- Owner Elizabeth Westergaard, ca 1900
511 Westwood Avenue -- Home of Kathryn Bear and Hank Ottinger, ca 1930
211 Westwood Avenue -- Home of Sam Goodfellow and Judith Goodman, ca 1904
1115 Locust Street – Sacred Heart Catholic Church
2011 North Country Club Drive -- Owner Martha John, ca 1882
2007 South Country Club Drive -- Home of Robert and Gladys Allen, ca 1927
509 Thilly Avenue -- The Lincoln and Edna Hyde Home, now owned by Scott Robinson and Cindi King, ca 1905

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