CoMo200, Events

CoMo is turning 200!

Guess what?! Columbia, Missouri and Boone County, Missouri will soon be celebrating 200 years! Columbia, Missouri was founded first as Smithton in 1818, then moved a few blocks east and renamed Columbia in 1821. Boone County was founded in 1820, according to the Boone County Government site.

To plan festivities to mark the bicentennial,  Columbia Mayor Brian Treece has appointed a Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning. The task force Brent Gardner, Pat Fowler, Nate Brown, Dr. Eryca Neville, Dr. Anne Deaton, Chris Campbell, Tom Mendenhall, Deb Sheals and Ann Rogers.

The next meeting of the task force will be at 7 p.m. on March 28, 2018, in the boardroom of the Walton Building at 300 South Providence. Here’s the agenda, which includes a link to a draft of the minutes of the last meeting, background materials and a list of festivity ideas.

The meeting is open to the public, but Task Force Chair Brent Gardner said the main purpose of these first few meetings is to get organized and educated.

Goals for the celebration 

While the task force is still getting organized, three goals were set at the group’s first meeting on Feb. 28, 2018.

  • It will be inclusive of all of Columbia, said Gardner — the wealthy, those without money, young, old, black, white, immigrants — everyone.
  • The second goal of the celebrations to be planned is that they will indeed be celebrations, fun and entertaining.
  • The third goal, said Deb Sheals, Gardner’s co-chair, will be to leave a mark, to create some kind of enduring item. As Sheals put it, she wants to give CoMo a “big, fat present for turning 200.” That “present” could be anything from creating lesson plans for grade and high school children to a piece of artwork in the Flat Branch area, which is where Columbia got its start.

At the inaugural meeting, ideas sprang from every member of the group along with ways about how to approach celebrating the city and county’s 200 years. Should the celebration revolve around 200 amazing Columbia people? Or should the festivities mark an accomplishment for each of the 200 years being marked? Should there be contests? An official coin or stamp? A memorial book?

How to get involved

The task force is working on creating a website portal where, as task force member Pat Fowler put it, people can read along with the task force members as it gathers information and educates itself.

There is a proposal to create a Facebook page and dedicated emails for the task force members to the public can contact them.

For now, the meetings of the task force, like all governmental meetings, are open to the public. The meetings will be held in the boardroom of the Walton Building at 300 S. Providence Road. The meeting schedule can be checked on the city’s calendar here.

Here is the schedule of the meetings:

    • April 25
    • May 23
    • June 27
    • July 25
    • Aug. 22
    • Sept. 26
    • Oct. 24
    • Nov. 28
    • Dec. 26

Who is on the task force?

  • Brent Gardner, chair,
  • Pat Fowler, Historic Preservation Commission,
  • Nate Brown, MU’s Reynolds Journalism Institute,
  • Dr. Eryca Neville, Columbia Public Schools
  • Dr. Anne Deaton, University of Missouri
  • Chris Campbell, Boone County History & Culture Center
  • Tom Mendenhall, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Deb Sheals, Downtown Community Improvement District
  • Ann Rogers
  • Amy Schneider, City of Columbia staff liaison
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CoMo’s hot dog-historic home connection

Columbia has a connection with a hot dog of a historic home in Evanston, Illinois — a long way from here even in a Weinermobile.

Here’s the connection: The Oscar Mayer plant of Kraft Heinz opened in 1985, according to this March 8, 2018, article in the Vox magazine of the Columbia Missourian. The plant made 161 million pounds of hot dogs in 2017 and employed 482 workers.

That’s a lota hot dogs!

A $2 million house connection to CoMo

This $2 million historic home was once home to Oscar Mayer Sr., the son of the founder of the meat-processing and weiner-making firm. The six-bedroom house in Evanston, Illinois was featured in the “What you get for $2 million,” section of New York Times on March 18, 2018.

Oscar Mayer Sr. lived in the home up from 1927 until his death in 1965. As president of the firm from 1928 until 1955, he took the company from $4 million in sales to $300 million in sales, while the workforce grew from 200 workers to 8,500. Here’s more information about him via his NYTimes obituary from March 5, 1965 here.

You can take a peek here inside the three-story, Victorian brick, 7,401-square-foot house.

You might want to snap it up at its current price. Newly renovated in 2016, it was listed at $2.95 million, according to this article in Curbed.com, an online shelter publication. This link lets you see it after the renovation, unfurnished.

CoMo’s hot dog connection

The local Oscar Mayer plant on Waco Road is the only Kraft Heinz plant that just makes hot dogs, according to this March 8, 2018, article in Vox magazine of the Columbia Missourian covering 200 years of Columbia’s history.

The article states the plant opened in 1985, employs 482 people and made 161 million of hot dogs in 2017. It’s one of CoMo’s largest employers and donates 60,000 hot dogs to the Central Missouri Food Bank, the article notes.

But the hot dog business has had its challenges here CoMo

In 2015, the Oscar Mayer plant won a tax break from Columbia taxing authorities.

But first, some background. By 2015, the Oscar Mayer plant harkened back to the first Oscar Mayer in name only.

The hot dog processor was owned by Kraft Heinz. The changes in ownership had started in 1971, when Oscar Mayer merged with Kraft in 1971, according to the Oscar Mayer website.

In 2015, Kraft and Heinz merged, resulting in North America’s third-largest food and beverage firm with $28 billion in annual revenues, according to this July 8, 2015, Columbia Missourian article.

The merger wasn’t all good news for Columbia.

Analysts expected the new firm to cut workers and costs, according to this March 22, 2015 Reuters article embedded in the July 8, 2015, Columbia Missourian article.

The new hot dog plant owners threatened to move operations elsewhere and wanted a 75 percent break in personal property and real estate taxes on a proposed $100 million upgrade of new equipment and addition, according to the July 8, 2015, Columbia Missourian article. The rest of the firm’s taxes would be unaffected by this agreement.

The article points out that even with this tax break, Kraft Heinz would cut about 50 workers due to the new and improved equipment.

Local taxing authorities agreed that some jobs were better than losing the 400 jobs and agreed to the 75 percent tax break on the project, as reported in this July 10, 2015, Columbia Missourian article.

Still, CoMo has a connection to the house in Evanston. The local plant is still making hot dogs and the Oscar Mayer house has been renovated and is up for sale.