Meet your neighbor: Connie Leipard



Connie Leipard works daily to give girls the chance to do whatever they want when they grow up — including construction work.

Connie Leipard works in her office at Quality Drywall Construction on May 5. Leipard is a regional director for the National Association of Women in Construction.

Leipard, who owns Quality Drywall Construction, 165 E. Hoedown Drive, with her husband, Michael, is the Region 6 director of the National Association of Women in Construction. The all-female organization supports women in the construction industry, and sponsors youth events to build awareness and interest for construction work in the younger generation.

Region 6 comprises Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, and part of Illinois, and includes seven chapters with about 300 members total. Nationwide, NAWIC has 14 regions and about 4,000 members. The organization also has chapters in Canada, the U.K. and South Africa.

NAWIC sponsors the Block Kids Building Program, which challenges elementary school-age children with the MacGyver-esque task of creating a structure in one hour, using only 100 Lego bricks, a rock, a string, a piece of aluminum foil and a poster board. This year, a second grader from Region 6, Augustus May, won first place at the national Block Kids competition and will be honored this fall at the Construction Innovation Forum NOVA Awards banquet in Orlando, Fla.

Leipard said the most influential youth program NAWIC sponsors is Mother-Daughter Construction Career Day at Linn State Technical College in Linn.

“We try to get out and help the girls think that in real life they can be successful at anything they really want to do,” she said. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Filed under Columbia-Boone County, Rock Bridge—Green Meadows—Bedford Walk—Cedar Lake

Meet your neighbor: Melvin George



When Melvin George stands at the front of a classroom, he commands it.

In his class on Thursday, May 2, George’s voice, clear and warmly rounded with age, filled the space with energy. The 75-year-old strolled across the length of the classroom and read animatedly from a packet of papers in his hands. Occasionally, he leaned forward on his desk towards the students and peered over his large, silver-rimmed glasses to emphasize a point. When he made a joke, his students erupted into laughter.

Although it was the second to last week of classes at MU, George’s students seemed entertained and engaged — quite a feat for any professor competing against laptops, cell phones and warm weather for students’ attention. But after 52 years of working as an educator, George has learned a few things.

“I think the secret to success is to like students,” George said “If you sincerely like students, it’s pretty easy to show that. I think students respond positively to people who really enjoy them, respect them and understand them. I think that’s the key to it.”

George said his passion for students and learning is what has kept him working in academia since his first regular faculty job as a professor in MU’s mathematics department in 1960, just after he graduated from Princeton with his doctorate degree in mathematics. Since then, George has held a myriad of positions ranging from presidencies to deanships at the University of Nebraska, St. Olaf College, University of Minnesota and MU. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under College Park—West Boulevard

Gospel musicians to perform for Heritage Family Weekend at Douglass Park



This year’s Heritage Family Weekend will feature three gospel groups  from St. Louis, a DJ and games in the park on Saturday, May 14, and Sunday, May 15 in Douglass Park.

Bill Thompson, recreation specialist with Columbia Parks and Recreation, said the annual event has been held in the park at the corner of Rogers Street and Providence Road for more than 20 years.

“It kicks off the summer activities for Douglass Park,” Thompson said. “It’s like the opening of Douglass Park for the season.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Douglass Park

Columbia students raise money for Japan



Since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami ravaged Japan’s east coast and killed more than 10,000 people, Columbia Public School students have initiated a number of ways to raise money for Japan relief.

The combined efforts of Columbia’s public schools have raised more than $4,500 to donate to the American Red Cross for Japan relief, and money is still trickling in from schools across Columbia.

A fundraising campaign for Japan at Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School began with Rhonda Hafner’s second-grade class. The second-graders focused on Asia during the school’s multicultural night on April 28, so when Hafner started a penny drive for Japan, it fit in nicely with the class project.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Blue Ridge—Oakland, Schools

Meet your neighbor: Harold Helvey

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Harold Helvey graduated from Hickman High School on a Friday in early June of 1993. The following Monday, he started working at Central Missouri Subcontracting Enterprises, a sheltered workshop in Columbia that employs people with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. Helvey has autism.

If you live near Shepard Boulevard, you have probably seen Helvey in the neighborhood. Growing up there, Helvey used to walk around the neighborhood every day. He comes to back to Shepard every Saturday now to spend time with his parents and ride his bike around the neighborhood. He lives at a Woodhaven house, which helps people with developmental disabilities by providing supervision in their own homes.

Bill and Julia Helvey, Harold’s parents, said they did not have any reservations about him going to work at CMSE immediately after high school. Bruce Young, the director of CMSE, said some parents worry about their child working at a sheltered workshop.

“Some are scared that if they come to the workshop, they’ll be here forever, and that’s just not the case,” Young said. Continue reading


Filed under Bearfield—Grindstone, Columbia-Boone County, Woodridge—Shepard

Habitat for Humanity garage sale a success



The garage sale April 9 at Broadway Christian Church that benefited Habitat for Humanity was a success, said Dixie Fisher, secretary of the board for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter.

Fisher, who began the garage sale with her husband, Roger Fisher, in 1989, said she has seen the proceeds from the sale increase over the years. Fisher said this year’s sale went well, considering there was only one larger item, a big-screen TV set that sold for $150, among other “small items.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Smithton—Rothwell Heights

Parkade Elementary to host Field Day



Parkade Elementary is hosting its annual Field Day from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 13, on the school’s playground and fields.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Parkade, Schools