Beulah Ralph’s legacy lives on at elementary school dedication event

COLUMBIA — In the corner of Beulah Ralph Elementary School’s gym stood 54-year-old Glenn Cobbins Sr., waving to the crowd as he was recognized for having been one of “Beulah’s Drifters.”

While a student at Douglass High School, he was one of many young men from the school for whom community educator Beulah Ralph created a classroom in her office because they couldn’t find success anywhere else.

This group, “Beulah’s Drifters,” was composed of young men who had trouble in school, and Ralph cared about them as if they were her own children. Cobbins said Ralph would get in her car at night and go around the neighborhood making sure her “drifters” stayed out of trouble.

“She had a voice that was so soft, it cut like razors,” Cobbins said. “She was a pillar — never changed. As far as I’m concerned, her spirit never dies.”


Cobbins and about 200 other people, including Ralph’s family and friends from out of state, gathered at 2 p.m. Friday for the dedication ceremony for the elementary school named in Ralph’s honor. Ralph was born on Jan. 31, 1927, and died at the age of 83 on Nov. 17, 2010,according to previous Missourian reporting.


The new school, set to open next Tuesday, was buzzing with warmth as hugs, laughter and memories were exchanged during the event. Looking into the gym, it was evident that Ralph’s legacy had influenced all in attendence and continues to resonate with her values instilled in the elementary school.


During his remarks, Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said Ralph had been “a living legend, one of the most valuable players” in the school district’s history.


Ralph graduated from Douglass High School and worked as a secretary at the school for 20 years. Ralph dedicated her 58-year career to ensuring all students had educational equality, no matter their background or race. She created and directed the Home-School Communicator program, which aided students transitioning to different schools after the district’s schools were desegregated, according to previous Missourian reporting.


Monica Naylor, Ralph’s only daughter, spoke at the dedication ceremony and emphasized how progressive-thinking Ralph was, how Ralph’s program addressed race issues and how Ralph made sure students of every color knew they had someone in the building who understood them.


Standing in the school named after her mother, Naylor said it was a joyous occasion but one filled with mixed feelings for herself.


“We are here today, and that means she is not,” Naylor said.


Naylor said Ralph was an inspiration and the biggest cheerleader in her life. The school being named after Ralph showed Naylor what her mother meant to the community and the respect she had earned from those around her.


Naylor, a retired teacher, said her mother understood how important it was to show the students that someone who looked like them could be in a role of success. She also said that Ralph was not only a mother to her but to the Home-School Communicators she cared for.


When Naylor asked the Home-School Communicators in the gym to stand, more than a dozen men and women stood to be recognized. Cathy Cox, from Benton STEM Elementary School, and Tambra Redden, from Russell Boulevard Elementary School and Fairview Elementary School, both knew Ralph for many years before being hired by her.

“She was everybody’s mama and grandma,” Redden said. Ralph has+ been a Home-School Communicator for 18 years.


Cox said that everyone who grew up in Columbia’s black community knew Ralph as someone who genuinely worked to pull the best out of every person she met.


To help carry on Ralph’s legacy, Cox and Redden strive to make sure the students and families they care for have chances to succeed.


Although the Home-School Communicator program will not be implemented at Beulah Ralph Elementary, Principal Tim Majerus said the service-learning school will embody Ralph’s philosophy of giving back to the community. Throughout each year, all grade levels will participate in their choice of a service project, Majerus said.


The school, which cost $20 million to build, is expected to have about 540 students enrolled for its first year. Naylor hopes all children can come, learn and thrive at the school.


As one of “Beulah’s Drifters,” Cobbins said Ralph taught the community many values, including love and treating others as equals.


“She always said education is the passport for the future,” Cobbins said. “She was the supreme. She was queen — she still is.”


Supervising editor is Jared Kaufman.


Source: Columbia Missourian



Lindbergh board OKs work at high school

February 25, 2015 – The Lindbergh Board of Education recently voted to award a roughly $3 million contract to Orf Construction for improvements at Lindbergh High School.

Board members voted 6-0 Feb. 10 to award the $3,057,000 contract for a cafeteria addition, new bleachers and floor replacement in Gymnasium 3 and two new science classrooms at the high school.

Board Treasurer Kara Horton was absent.

Additional projects will include completing a public restroom at the track stadium and band bleachers at the lighted stadium, along with entrance, parking and drive renovations at the Al B. Moore Leadership Center in Sunset Hills.

The work is being funded through the district’s Proposition G — for Growth — bond issue approved last April by district voters. Besides the critical needs at Lindbergh High School, the $34 million bond issue will fund a roughly $24 million elementary school on the nearly 10-acre Dressel School site at 10255 Musick Road.

Ten bids were submitted, and Orf’s bid was the lowest, according to Executive Director of Planning and Development Karl Guyer, who recommended the board award the contract to Orf. The highest bid of $3,433,000 was submitted by Wright Construction Services Inc.

District officials were pleased with the number and range of bids, according to Superintendent Jim Simpson.

Of Orf Construction’s bid, Simpson said, “That was a very good bid, and the bids were tight, too. I love tight bids. It means everybody’s looking at the same thing and coming up with the same numbers …”

In a memo to Simpson and the board, Guyer wrote that most of the projects can start as soon as possible, “with other areas scheduled to start based on coordination with high school activities and testing.”

Construction of the cafeteria addition will start immediately, with completion planned by Dec. 11. Work on the new bleachers and floor replacement in Gym 3 will start May 18 with completion scheduled July 31.

As planned, work on the new science classrooms will begin June 15 and be finished by Aug. 3.

“Other work will be completed by early August, based on completion dates established that don’t impact other activities,” Guyer wrote.

The new bleachers in Gym 3 will replace the original bleachers from 1967, according to Simpson.

“… They’re 1-by-12 pine and they are high-grade wood, not a knot or blemish in them. That’s how they used to do it back then, which you can’t duplicate that today because you can’t get that kind of quality of lumber …,” he said. “This wood has some real value. There’s a lot of it, too. That’s one of the problems. It’s a lot. You could build a house out of this, practically.”

District officials are environmentally conscious and would like to see the wood reused, but have not had any luck in finding anyone who wants to recycle the lumber — despite contacting several companies that specialize in antique wood and recycling.

“That’s a little bit bothersome to me because I hate waste,” Simpson said, noting the pine “would make great cabinetry wood. It would make great flooring. It would make great paneling.”

Of the lumber, he said, “It’s bolted to the steel bleachers. That’s how it’s on there. So whoever takes it out, they have to unbolt it. Then they can walk out with it.”

The superintendent acknowledged a great deal of work would be required to obtain the lumber, but he believes the effort would be worth it.

In other matters, the board voted:

• To award a $35,020 contract to the Echelmeier Co. to supply and deliver a replacement cooling tower for the high school’s air-conditioning plant.

The company’s bid was the lowest submitted. The new cooling tower will be installed by district personnel.

• To award a five-year contract for auditing services to Kerber, Eck & Braeckel LLP, the district’s current auditors. Five firms responded to the district’s request for proposals, or RFP. Kerber, Eck & Braeckel’s bid of $74,500 was not the lowest submitted. Bids ranged from $69,950 to $117,700.

In a memo, Director of Accounting Kathy Wood wrote, “Each firm was thoroughly examined to assure that the firm could meet all requirements of the RFP …”

A rating scale of 1 through 5 was used to evaluate the proposals, Wood wrote, adding, “The firm with the highest score is Kerber, Eck & Braeckel LLP — KEB. KEB is our current audit firm, and the district has been very pleased with the level of services and expertise provided to date.”

Source: Call Newspapers

Groundbreaking ceremony to be held for south Columbia elementary school

Groundbreaking ceremony to be held for south Columbia elementary school

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 | 7:35 p.m. CST; updated 6:17 a.m. CST, Thursday, November 6, 2014

Three Carry-All Scrapers are parked at the site of the new elementary school off of Route KK on Wednesday. The scrapers help move dirt around and level the site before construction begins.  

COLUMBIA — As the rain subsided Tuesday morning, the near-empty lot on the northwest corner of Scott Boulevard and Route KK was quiet.

Tractors and bulldozers sat idle on the sprawling patch of dirt etched by track marks. The only clear sounds were of a few passing cars and a chirping flock of birds overhead.

That will change when this 30-acre lot is transformed into the 21st elementary school for Columbia Public Schools. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday.

Spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said Columbia School Board members, district administrators, architects, construction managers and Columbia and Boone County officials will attend the ceremony. The district has also invited the surrounding neighborhoods.

“We want to include anybody in the process who’s going to be involved (with this school) over the next two years,” Baumstark said.

The groundbreaking will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and ceremonial shoveling. Superintendent Peter Stiepleman and school board President Christine King will also say a few words. Baumstark said the event will last 30 to 45 minutes.

Site preparation is underway at the location for the new school, which has not yet been named. The district bought the site from the Sapp family about a year ago for $2.8 million.

Baumstark said the district is in the process of establishing a boundary committee to set new school attendance zones. It will look at guiding principles including accessibility for families, “walkability” and natural boundaries such as creek beds, she said. The committee is expected to finish in April 2015, according to district information.

According to previous Missourian reporting, Orf Construction’s bid of $16 million won the contract to serve as the general contractor for the school. It is expected to open for the 2016-17 school year.

Eliot Battle Elementary School, the district’s 20th elementary school, is under construction in northeast Columbia. Jeri Petre, principal of Derby Ridge Elementary School, will be recommended to the school board to lead Battle Elementary.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

Columbia Missourian



Tech Building Boosts Law Enforcement

January 10, 2014 | by Peter Downs, Editor

Tech Building Boosts Law Enforcement

A bi-state boom in construction related to public safety and security appears to be peaking. Notable projects include new forensic science labs on both sides of the river; a tri-county emergency communications system; and an emergency command center in St. Louis County that brings the 911 system, the emergency communications system, and an emergency operations center all under one roof.

Emergency Communications

The plan for an emergency communications system for St. Louis County has expanded to include regions of St. Charles and Jefferson County. “It will bring all of the public safety and emergency providers under one umbrella,” said Director David Barney. “It will have 55 towers instead of 25, and 17,000 users,” he said, and it will connect to the emergency communications systems of St. Louis City, and Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair counties in Illinois.

The cornerstone of the system is the new Emergency Communications Center in St. Louis County’s Ohlendorf West Park in Ballwin, MO, which will house the 800 MHz trunk radio network and systems data center. A trunked radio system utilizes computers to fit more conversations into the idle time between other conversations on a radio frequency to enable multiple groups of users to share a relative handful of radio frequencies. In this way, the many public safety departments in the tri-county area will be able to share a small number of frequencies and also use them to communicate with each other when necessary.

According to the St. Louis County Police Department, it was the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2001 that drew a spotlight and sense of urgency to addressing the incompatibility of communications systems used by different emergency responders. There were over 50 different communications systems in St. Louis County alone. The new tri-county emergency communications system is designed to ensure that fire departments, emergency medical services, police departments, hospitals, and public works agencies can all communicate quickly with each other.

Perhaps the key design requirement for the facility that is at the heart of the new communication system is that it continue to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through any disaster or tragedy, even if it has lost all outside power.

Emergency Command Center

“When the chips are down, this is where St. Louis County will go to bunker down to manage events. It is designed to stay in operation in extreme conditions,” said Michael Shea, senior vice president with Ross & Baruzzini – Critical Operations Design and Engineering (CODE), the facility architect and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems engineer.

The 31,600-square-foot building is designed to withstand 180-mph winds with an impact from a 15-pound 2×4 traveling at 87 miles per hour. “It has 10-inch thick reinforced concrete walls and a 6-inch thick reinforced concrete roof on steel joists and girders. There’s a lot of steel reinforcement,” said Thomas Heinze, project manager for the St. Louis Department of Public Works.

The construction cost is $12.3 million. Orf Construction is the general contractor.

The facility is designed to stay in operation for three days on its own power, without any support from the outside. “It has two generators, either one of which can power the building, and two chillers, either one of which can cool the building,” Shea said.

The generators are located inside the building, with exhaust exiting through the roof, to protect them from tornadoes, such as the one that hit Joplin in 2011, or a terrorist attack like the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1995. The chillers and boilers are outside, but protected by reinforced concrete walls and a two-inch steel bar-grate roof.

In addition to the emergency communications center, the facility also will house the St. Louis County’s 911 dispatching center and emergency operations center. One of the chief design and construction challenges, Heinze said, “was meeting all their needs.”

St. Louis Country Emergency Communications

“This is a new paradigm for the county. They are putting three families under one roof,” said Theresa Smith, director, Ross & Baruzzini-CODE. “There is layer upon layer of needs to consider. I call it peeling the onion,” she said.

Jason Mayfield, project architect for Ross & Baruzzini-CODE gave an example: “One-third of the occupants are relocating from an underground bunker and another third from a basement. They want all the benefits of a bunker, but with glass and daylighting and green space. Marrying those quality of life requirements with the design requirements for a safe and efficient facility was a challenge.”


The 911 dispatching center, for example, operates 24-hours a day, every day of the year, “and 911 call-taking is stressful,” Shea said. In 2012, St. Louis County 911 operators answered almost 800,000 calls, according to the county police department’s Bureau of Communications. Operators need to be able to find some respite from the stress.

One solution is dedicated respite areas, another is to just give operators the opportunity to look outside. Strategically placed windows in the exterior walls, including clerestory windows in the 27-foot tall north wall, provide sunlight and views. The windows are multilayer polycarbonate-glass laminates designed to withstand a blast or a tornado.

For another group of stakeholders in the project a big concern was the outward appearance of the building. “A unique part of this job was trying to fit it into a residential community without being offensive,” Mayfield said. The single-story, brick-and-zinc clad administrative portion of the facility softens the 27-foot height of the main technological component of the building. A mosaic of metallic architectural panels is meant to break up the tall, 300-foot long facade of the main building component.


The Illinois State Police have a new $37.8 million forensic science laboratory under construction in Belleville, IL.

The two-story, 64,100-square-foot lab will replace a decades-old, 15,000-square-foot lab in leased space in Fairview Heights. Detroit-based Harley Ellis Deveraux was the architect. Contegra Construction Co. is the general contractor. Contegra’s portion of the contract is $25.8 million. When operational, it will serve 154 police agencies in the eight-county Metro-East region of southern Illinois.

“There is an increased demand for DNA analysis and other highly specialized testing on crime scene evidence,” Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau said in a press release. With the new facility, “our skilled scientists will be prepared to keep up with technology and demand,” he said.

The building will include more than 40,000 square feet of lab space hosting equipment for crime scene services, trace chemistry, drug chemistry, polygraph, latent prints, firearms, and forensic biology/DNA testing, including a shooting range to analyze firearm ballistics; two vehicle exam bays; a water tank; firearms lab; and various specialized vaults for evidence storage.

“The design and equipment specification of every lab is unique and specific to its use, which makes thorough pre-planning and precise execution imperative,” Angela Ridgway, Contegra project manager, said in a press release. The building will be supported with back-up power supplied by diesel fuel generators.

Contegra was awarded the project and broke ground in February 2012, after an objection from a losing bidder was resolved. The project stalled when the steel fabricator went bankrupt. Contegra then brought Affront Fabricating & Welding Co. in to take over steel fabrication. The project is headed for completion this spring.

The St. Louis County police recently began enjoying the services of a new 33,000-square-foot forensic crime lab in Clayton, MO. The new $11.7 million lab replaces a 9,000-square-foot lab. Hastings & Chivetta was the architectural firm. ICS was the general contractor.

Lieutenant Mason Keller, commander of the crime lab, said the advantages of the new, expanded space include:

• the ability to store all crime scene negatives and photos in a single, secure location;
• individual spaces for each analyst in biology, including 3 large exam rooms so that multiple cases can be screened simultaneously (the old lab had one room);
• individual DNA extraction spaces for each analyst (the old lab had one space);
• extraction robots and the new 3500 capillary electrophoresis genetic analyzers (each 3500 analyzes eight samples in the time the old instruments analyzed one).
• fume hoods for all chemists working with dangerous controlled substances and testing reagents;
• an arson/explosives lab that allows analysis of fire debris samples anytime versus only nights and weekends in the old lab;
• an XRD instrument to analyze explosives and residues;
• separate rooms for the firing range, projectile recovery tank, ammunition, and reference collection (they were all together in one room in the old facility);
• a custom-designed remote firing device ensures examiner safety by giving them a means to fire a potentially hazardous gun without having to be in contact with it.

Ultimately, the benefit of increased capabilities and efficiency is that the lab will be able to analyze evidence more quickly, “which means that a case can be adjudicated more quickly,” said Keller.

“It was a unique challenge for us, as it was our first crime lab project,” said Christopher Chivetta, president and principal-in-charge, Hastings & Chivetta. After a national search, they partnered with MWL, a planning firm that does nothing but crime labs.

“Our biggest challenge was fitting the lab space into the old jail cell area on the fourth floor of the police building. We had a little spill over to a lower floor to fit the program requirements,” he said.

Hastings & Chivetta has designed many academic laboratories. The big difference with a forensic lab is how they handle the chain of evidence and control custody of materials.

“In a collegiate lab or research lab, you focus on the safety of people, who may not have been trained in proper lab procedures, and how they move chemicals and materials in the lab. In a crime lab, everyone has been trained in good protocols and procedures, and you are overlaying those with control of the sample so that it doesn’t get contaminated,” Chivetta said. “You approach it like a health care environment,” he said, and the result is “a very sophisticated lab environment.”

A real forensic lab is nothing like on TV, he added. “On television, you have beautiful glass crime labs with people walking freely from one room to another. When you are dealing with sensitive evidence in the real world, you have to keep it secure. You have to keep people away and you have to have a protocol on how to handle it. It is very much out of sync with TV crime labs,” he said.

Source: St. Louis Construction News & Review

Moberly Area Community College hosts Grand Opening for New Hannibal Campus

HANNIBAL, Mo. (WGEM) – After years of planning and fundraising, the new Moberly Area Community College held its grand opening Friday in Hannibal.

Classes started at the new 16-thousand square foot facility earlier this month. The expansion was needed as enrollment outgrew its current facility.

The building features a science lab, resource center, student study areas amd can also be used as a storm shelter.

“when we have bad weather we can just stay in one area and we don’t have to travel somewhere else,” Sophomore Stephanie Willing said. “It’s nice having air conditioning when the summer comes so we’re not dying in the heat.”

College officials say the building was constructed in a way that they can add on in the future if needed.

Source: WGEM

OATS to Host Open House at Bridgeton Facility

OATS, Inc. will be hosting an Open House to celebrate the completion of their new facilities in Bridgeton on Tuesday, September 18 beginning at 10am. OATS regional office is located at 186 NW Industrial Court in Bridgeton. The Open House will include representatives of federal, state, and local agencies and legislative officials.

With funding from the Federal Transit Administration, administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation, and other local involvement, the construction and renovations were completed this past summer. Total cost for the project was $3.4 million.

The OATS East region office provides transportation to Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties in Missouri, with their main office in Bridgeton and satellite offices in Union and Mapaville. The East Region operations include 180 drivers and administrative staff, 25 volunteers and 185 vehicles.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the Bridgeton community and to provide service to the entire St. Louis area,” said Pam Knox, East Missouri Regional Director. “The facility includes training facilities, a break room, bus wash and maintenance shop that is accessible to more of our drivers,” said Knox.

OATS, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit corporation providing specialized transportation for senior citizens, people with disabilities and the rural general public in 87 Missouri counties. Governed by a 15-member Board of Directors, the organization has a staff of over 750 employees and a fleet of 800 vehicles statewide. The home office is located in Columbia, Missouri with seven regional offices located throughout the state. OATS has grown to be one of the largest and most unique systems of its kind in the country.