By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
• Hannibal voters in April approved a ballot measure banning smoking in all indoor public places and all city-owned vehicles. Proponents argued eliminating secondhand smoke from public places would promote public health by mitigating the unintended consequences of someone else's choice to smoke. Opponents complained that patronizing a smoking establishment is as much a choice as choosing to smoke, and saw the blanket law as unnecessary government intrusion. The vote passed with a 55.8 percent majority.
• Hannibal saw the state's strongest interest in reviving passenger rail service since the Mark Twain Zephyr left town in the early 1960s. A proposal as part of Missouri's 20-year rail plan called for restoring passenger rail service between Hannibal and Quincy, Ill., and between Hannibal and St. Louis. However, funding for the plan continues to be the biggest hurdle.Eric Curtit, MoDOT's administrator of railroads, said it would be unrealistic to plan for full passenger train service in Hannibal within the next 20 years, unless additional money is allocated.
• Ayers Oil Co. opened a convenience store and Steak 'n Shake restaurant in June in Canton, Mo., creating 80 jobs. The project was seen a as vote of confidence in Canton from Ayers Oil and the company's willingness to invest in the community.
• Hannibal celebrated the 100th birthday of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in May. The house that Samuel Clemens grew up in almost met its end not long after the author's death in 1910. Eventually, a wealthy benefactor, George A. Mahan, invested in the project and kick-started a century of preservation. Mahan bought the house, repaired it and presented it to the city in May 1912. The museum formally established in 1926 and began to acquire Twain-related properties including the J.M. Clemens Justice of the Peace Office, Grant's Drug Store and the former Cassano's restaurant site on North Main. The Boyhood Home was completely restored in 1990-91. Two rooms that had been removed from the rear of the house in the 1880s were reconstructed. The current Museum Gallery building opened in two phases, the first in 1995, the rest in 2001. The Becky Thatcher House opened in 2001 and the reconstructed Huckleberry Finn House opened in 2007. It's estimate more than 8.5 million people have visited the Boyhood Home in the past 100 years.
• The Twin Pike Family YMCA in Louisiana has five more months to complete fundraising for a new aquatic center. The Y received a $500,000 challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation in July, but that grant requires the organization to raise $1.2 million in cash or pledges toward a planned $3.8 million aquatic center. If the challenge is met, the aquatics center will feature a six-lane, 25-meter swimming pool with a zero-depth entry and an elevated walking track around the pool in a new addition to the Y's facility at 614 Kelly Lane. The addition, Phase 3 of the Y's building plan, will provide 61,550 square feet on the main level and 6,160 square feet on the second level. This will more than double the size of the facility.
• Two men were killed when a 1956 Piper-23-150 — commonly referred to as a "Piper Apache" — crashed in a rural pasture about 2½ miles southwest of Canton on Aug. 30. Both occupants, John R. Johnson, 74, of Carbondale, and Carl S. Maiden, 47, of DuQuoin, were pronounced dead at the scene. It was the third fatal plane crash in Lewis County in 12 years.
• The Hannibal City Council sought solutions for handling pigeons this fall. After a national outcry from animal rights activists, local company Reliable Pest Solutions dropped its bid for the project. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals cautioned the city about the ramifications poison would have on the birds and the animals. If the city had opted for poisoned feed, eventually, birds may drop from the sky mid-flight. Follow up suggestions varied from pellet shooting, predator statues, trapping the birds, pigeon birth control and even utilizing a volunteer pigeon whisperer. Eventually the council opted to trap and shoot the pigeons.
• The Louisiana City Council impeached Ward 3 councilwoman Robbyn Morris in November for violating the Missouri Sunshine Law. Morris tape-recorded a closed session of the council because she believed the meeting violated the procedures for open meetings. City Administrator Bob Jenne had used the closed meeting to reprimand Morris for the way she handled a public concern. Morris' attorney, Rex Bradley, said Morris tape-recorded the meeting to protect herself. Tape-recording a closed session without permission also violates the sunshine law. Morris may try to run again in April.