Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BEAT BYTE: Crime and Arrests Plague Grasslands Apartments

BEAT BYTES: News Briefs from the Columbia Heartbeat

1) Crime and Arrests Plague Grasslands Apartments
2) Popular Reporter Heavin Leavin' Tribune

3) Thornhill and Phillips Kick Off Campaigns/Voter Forums Set

4) Housing (and Tax) News from Bank of Missouri's Tom Stone

1) Crime and Arrests Plague Grasslands Apartments

COLUMBIA, 2/18/09 (Beat Byte) -- On a pleasant afternoon last Fall, Grasslands neighbor Brian Struchtemeyer wanted to let his two young boys, ages 2 and 4, ride their tricycles in the driveway of his home on Burnam Road. But what he describes as a "boorish, abhorrent refrain" from a "repetitive and vulgar song" kept his children in the house and brought him out to his deck. The lyrics -- from “Back that Azz Up” by the rapper Juvenile -- were loud enough that Struchtemeyer wrote them down.

CAUTION: not for little readers.

"Girl you workin with some ass, yeah. Hoes frown when you pass, yeah. I be slingin wood yeah, out the hood yeah. Got a nigga schemin large, on the hard, yeah. A smooth little broad from out the projects, yeah . A nigga do a trick yeah, on the dick, yeah. I'm a big tymer nigga yeah, pull the trigger yeah. You'se a fine motherfucker, won't you back that azz up. Call me big daddy when you back that azz up. Hoe, who is you playin wit? Back that azz up."

The blaring song turned out to be another unpleasant encounter with tenants from a recently-opened apartment community on nearby Clarkson Road, where twelve arrests, 38 police calls, and a violent free-for-all last September have locked edgy neighbors in an ongoing battle with the apartment's owners, a three-way partnership that includes Columbia Orthopedic Group surgeon Dr. Peter Buchert and KOMU newscaster Sarah Hill.

Loud parties, profanity, and people fleeing the law through neighboring yards are now part of life on Clarkson and Burnam, Struchtemeyer has noted in letters to Grasslands Rentals, LLC, a partnership that includes Hill, Buchert, Greg Logsdon, and their spouses.

"Problems started the week those apartments opened and haven't stopped," Grasslands resident and Columbia Business Times co-owner Dave Baugher told the Heart Beat. "Tenants and visitors have been involved in everything from drinking and fighting to burglary and assault."

The public record bears out Baugher's claims. Tenants from the Clarkson Rd. complex started appearing on the police blotter in late August of last year. Though neighbors say nuisance parties, underage drinking, and peace disturbances cause the most distress, CPD officers have also made arrests for assault, trespassing, property damage, burglary, and pending charges from out-of-area warrants.

The Grasslands Neighborhood Association stepped in after residents in the immediate area weren't able to resolve matters with Logsdon, Hill, and Buchert.

"The neighborhood association continues to discuss the Clarkson problem, both formally and informally," said association board member Tootie Burns, a Grasslands resident for 14 years. "Email, U.S. mail, telephone, planned meetings, and casual encounters are all ways we have had contact with the apartment's owners. But still, the problems continue."

Calling the neighborhood association's account "incomplete information," Sarah Hill referred this reporter to husband Rob. With Greg and Rachel Logsdon, the Hills also own the 82-unit Log Hill Run Apartments south of Corporate Lake, and the 84-unit Walnut Brook Apartments south of Old Plank Road.

"I'm not too concerned about the 'minor in possession' charges," Rob Hill told the Heart Beat. "Several residents who were arrested are no longer with us, and we do employ an off-duty police officer, Scott Decker, for security on the premises."

Maintaining that Decker himself made several arrests, Hill emphasized that "we evict folks that get into serious trouble." He also said that, since many of his tenants are students, tenant screening is problematic. "Students don't have much of a credit history, or any kind of history, to screen."

Of 38 "calls for service" since August 29, which may or may not involve an arrest, Columbia Police Department records indicate that Scott Decker, off duty, responded to fourteen calls.

"But to the best of my knowledge, Officer Decker is not the officer that has been making arrests," said CPD crime free programs coordinator Tim Thomason. "The arrests I am aware of are from our patrol officers handling complaints from the neighborhood when off duty officers are not present. It sounds as if the neighbors are giving an accurate account to you."

Mutual tensions have been building for months, Baugher said, and Hill agrees. "We received profanity laced phone calls with the clear message that 'I will call you and call you and call you until you do what I want you to do,'" Hill said. "Where the neighborhood association is concerned, what we do is never enough. We've had contact with them, a couple of letters and a couple of meetings, but we've never been invited to join the association. We were told that membership was only open to people who live in the Grasslands."

Neighborhood association member Jacki Verdun, Baugher's wife, disputes that account. "If they would join the neighborhood association, we would say hallelujah!" Verdun said. "We would absolutely welcome their involvement."

A neighborhood of upscale, older houses that many of Columbia's most prominent citizens, including former congressman Kenny Hulshof and MU athletic director Mike Alden, call home, the Grasslands is bounded by Providence Road to the east and an oddly-situated strip of multi-family and student housing to the north.

"We knew when we moved here that the campus and Greek town would have an impact, but we have rarely had any complaints and I have enjoyed interacting with students," said Tootie Burns. But trash, broken glass, and illegally parked cars are clear evidence, she says, that things have changed. "I know of people I suspect have moved because of recent problems, and others that are impacted almost daily by noise, trespassing, and loud parties."

-- Mike Martin for the Columbia Heart Beat

[Disclosure: As an independent freelancer, I write a column for the Columbia Business Times, Citizen Journalist.]


CAUTION: Not for little listeners

Resident Arrests since August 29, 2008 -- 18-28 Clarkson Road, The Grasslands

Timothy Michael Cain, 19, of 24 Clarkson Road, first-degree burglary, false identification, resisting arrest, third-degree assault
Kyle Joseph Alley, 19, of 22 Clarkson Road, false identification, first-degree property damage, first-degree trespassing
Justin Christopher Graf, 20, of 18 E. Clarkson Road, nuisance Party
Matthew W. Feldhaus, 23, of 20 Clarkson Road, open alcohol container
Jeffrey Kyle Bertram, 21, of 28 Clarkson Road, public nuisance

Timothy Randall Rowe, 22, of 20 Clarkson Road, out-of-county warrants, $1,000 bond
Timothy Randall Rowe, 22, of 20 Clarkson Road, out-of-county warrant, $122 bond

Brandon Michael Dale Guerin, 19, of 22 E. Clarkson Road, purchase or possession of alcohol by a minor
Brandon Michael Dale Guerin, 19, of 22 Clarkson Road, driving while intoxicated, $500 bond

Sean M. Melton, 19, of 24 E. Clarkson Road, purchase or possession of alcohol by a minor
Stephen Kyle Maurer, 20, of 28 Clarkson Road, false identification, manner of walking along roadways
Zachary Ryan Holtmeier-Brasier, 19, of 22 Clarkson Road, minor in possession of alcohol, unlisted municipal charge, first-degree property damage, first-degree trespassing, $5,405 bond

CPD Calls for Service since August 29, 2008 -- 18-32 Clarkson Road, The Grasslands

1 2008163161 08/29 08:55 19 CLARKSON RD E-CO PARKING 7 1181
2 2008163594 08/29 20:49 27 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1140
3 2008165783 09/02 18:43 19 CLARKSON RD E-CO 911 CHE 2 391
4 2008168668 09/06 20:48 27 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1140
5 2008168778 09/06 22:45 27 CLARKSON RD E-CO 911 CHE 2 280
6 2008171989 09/11 20:58 27 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1140
7 2008172037 09/11 22:16 28 CLARKSON RD E-CO SUSP VE NR 1140
8 2008172677 09/12 20:56 27 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1140
9 2008173552 09/14 07:33 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO PARKING 2 186
10 2008176606 09/19 02:59 32 CLARKSON RD E-CO SUSP VE 2 1140
11 2008186161 10/03 02:16 30 BLK CLARKSON RD ELARCENY 2 400
12 2008186825 10/03 23:27 20 BLK CLARKSON RD ESPECIAL 2 1546
13 2008186962 10/04 03:03 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO CHECK S 2 1546
14 2008187432 10/04 22:03 18 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1546
15 2008199518 10/22 23:38 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO PEACE D 1 310 485
16 2008200308 10/24 02:07 28 CLARKSON RD E-CO PEACE D 2 415
17 2008200680 10/24 16:13 28 CLARKSON RD E-CO PEACE D R 250 821
18 2008202565 10/27 13:49 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO HARASSM NR 270
19 2008204303 10/30 00:12 24 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1546
20 2008205105 10/30 23:35 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1546
21 2008205167 10/31 01:30 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO C&I DRI 2 1546
22 2008205487 10/31 15:16 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO LARCENY 2 156
23 2008205611 10/31 16:57 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO FOLLOW 2 355
24 2008205680 10/31 19:20 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO FRAUD 2 355
25 2008205847 10/31 22:54 24 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1546
26 2008206508 11/01 21:44 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1140
27 2008209328 11/05 22:34 22 CLARKSON RD E-CO FOLLOW 2 486
28 2008210100 11/06 22:15 28 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1108
29 2008210785 11/07 22:16 24 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1546
30 2008211444 11/08 22:30 24 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1546
31 2008211686 11/09 09:15 18 CLARKSON RD E-CO PARKING C 186
32 2008216061 11/15 22:48 26 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1108
33 2008218490 11/19 22:25 24 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1546
34 2008220401 11/22 22:11 32 CLARKSON RD E-CO SPECIAL 2 1546
35 2009014458 01/23 09:59 24 CLARKSON RD E-CO LITTERI 2 170
36 2009015529 01/24 22:43 18 CLARKSON RD E-CO PEACE D 2 471
37 2009015598 01/25 00:43 18 CLARKSON RD E-CO PEACE D 1 471 430
38 2009015706 01/25 07:59 30 CLARKSON RD E-CO PARKING 2 170

2) Popular Reporter Heavin Leavin' Tribune

COLUMBIA, 2/18/09 (Beat Byte) -- She cracked the communications glass ceiling at Columbia Public Schools; helped bring Sunshine to the halls of the Worley Street administration building; and helped make blogging in Columbia a popular way to give and get news. Now reporter Janese Heavin is leaving the Columbia Daily Tribune, she announced yesterday on the blog once called "Class Notes."

"I'm no longer covering state government," Heavin wrote on the Tribune's Homeroom blog. "I'm on general assignment until I leave the Trib next month."

"Janese is LEAVING????? I hope for greener pastures," wrote blogger cpsparentcpsgrad. "How sad Columbia might be losing one of our very best all time reporters. HJWIII [publisher Hank Waters], I hope you are smelling the beginnings of coffee brewing here."

Heavin told readers that she would still be in Columbia. "So you're likely not hearing, seeing the last of me."

3) Thornhill and Phillips Kick Off Campaigns/Voter Forums Set

2nd Ward City Council Candidate Jason Thornhill is kicking off his campaign March 6th from 5:30-8:30 at the Eagles Lodge on North Stadium Dr. He's announced a website, ; email address: and Facebook Group: Thornhill For Council.

Columbia school board candidate Sam Phillips is kicking off his campaign Monday, February 23, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Shakespeare's Pizza downtown.

Thornhill also notes that two voter forums are scheduled:

March 19th – 6:30 – The League of Women’s Voters
Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library

March 20th – 12:00 – Muleskinners
The Upper Crust Ballroom In the District – Elm St.

4) Housing (and Tax) News from Bank of Missouri's Tom Stone

This week I want to focus on tax time and in the newsletter there are some helpful tips to help you maximize your deductions. The tax code is cumbersome and as I prepared for my meeting with the CPA over the weekend, I picked up on a few things that could help. Read the rest here:

-- Mike Martin for the Columbia Heart Beat


  1. Heavin is apparently taking a PR job at the Missouri State Teachers Association, even though she denied that was the case on a blog.

  2. I would also add that few people would consider Heavin popular.

  3. Mike, why don't you stop your Tribune love-fest and actually report about what's going on there? Layoffs, wage freezes, "popular reporters" quitting? It's an industry trend but that should be noted for your readers.

  4. There's only a few reasons a state political reporter leaves during the middle of a political session. In this case, that reason is Terry Ganey.

  5. Janese is going to do PR for the firm that handles Rex Sinquefield, the school choice guy, not the Missouri State Teachers Association.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Why were people so convinced I was going to work for MSTA? Although I was impressed with MSTA's comments against MSBA at the Sunshine Coalition forum this week (see the BeatBoard for details).

    As for the "ick, sell out" comment. That's a pretty common phrase used for reporters who go into PR. In this case, I don't feel as though I sold out because I completely believe in what I'm doing and the people I'm working for. Rex Sinquefield donates a lot of money and time to improving education, including programs that directly help St. Louis PUBLIC Schools.
    And I agree; I never really considered myself "popular" either. Actually, as a reporter, being "popular" my the last thing on my mind. Asking tough questions and reporting not-so-positive facts are never popular.

  8. RE: "Crime and Arrests Plague Grasslands Apartments"

    Dear Mr. Martin,

    Giving Back to the Community; Participating/Volunteering at yearly blood drives, volunteering at Meals-On-Wheels, adopting a highway, raising money for charities, participating in Mizzou organizations/sports, participating in "Walks for Cancer Survivors" and "Walks for the Blind," tutoring students and helping improve the University of Missouri - things that define us more than noise complaints and being a nuisance.

    I'm pondering your blog..... I want to first acknowledge that there has been a sufficient level of activity to warrant complaints about the Grasslands Apartments. The facts - there have been noise complaints, police surveillance, and arrests made. No denying that.

    However, you have to consider all the above mentioned activities that express who we truly are. As a resident of the new Grasslands Apartments, a Graduate of Mizzou and an honest man, it is absurd to put all of us in the same category. There have been a few incidents that question the character of several people, but you cannot use that to misrepresent the individuals who stay clear of those illegal activities.

    As a resident of Missouri and the greater Columbia area, I find myself looking for long-term employment in this great city. I love it here and I'm considering leasing a house for years to come, but when you write blogs like that, it truly makes it difficult. It is quite annoying to constantly explain/defend ourselves here at the Grasslands Apartments to property owners who are skeptical about leasing to us. But here I am again. Explaining/defending myself and others like me.

    I also want to bring up another discussion. I find it a nuisance that neighborhood residents are feeding about 15 stray cats that live in the trees/bushes behind our condos. I've personally seen cars pull up, to where they're building that new playground, and individuals place cat food on top of a sewer drain. It is hazardous to pull into our parking lot when there are about 15 sets up glowing eyes staring at my headlights. I've counted! They run around the street, jump in-front of cars and rummage through our trash. Want to talk about trash being everywhere? Granted, the surrounding property gets messy from us at times, but the cats contribute to the problem as well. Not to mention, when they finish the construction of the playground, it will be dangerous for little kids to be playing so close to a pack of wild cats. Who knows what diseases they are carrying? It is my opinion that the animal patrol should be called to regulate the problem and for local residents to stop their feeding frenzy. Its on a daily basis!