Your work on EEZ has been very helpful to me and others who are opposing the EEZ being proposed in Callaway County.
-- Beverly Martin, Fulton, MO

About Rob Hill's Rock Bridge subdivision and earlier problems in the Grasslands
I am writing in regards to Rob Hill. You may recognize my name as I was one of the more vocal individuals in the Grasslands when Rob built the 8-unit rental property on Clarkson Road. Since you referenced the situation from many years ago in your recent article on the proposed Route K development, it seems fair and appropriate to let you know how effective and conscientious Rob has been with regards to his management of the properties on Clarkson these past few years.

Shortly after your article on the Clarkson development a number of tenants were evicted. From that time to now I have had an outstanding relationship with Rob. We communicate several times a year on how things are in the neighborhood. If a problem arises, he always takes my calls, and resolves the issues very quickly. Thank you for your time in reading this letter. I appreciate your efforts to promote stories the Missourian and Tribune generally do not cover. -- Brian Struchtemeyer, Columbia
About a family struggling with serious health problems
My name is Nikki Bappe and my daughter recently set up a campaign on a fundraising site to raise money to help our family.

I am seriously ill with a chronic lung condition which has deteriorated to the point where a double lung transplant is my only option. My husband (her dad) was diagnosed with cancer this June and received the second harshest treatment that they have for cancer and has not been able to work since August.

He is still a long way from recovered.
Anyway, someone said that your paper had printed an article referring to "Jodie's Story" which is the name of the story she wrote for the campaign. I've got Vox Magazine and the Columbia Missourian both doing articles about the fundraiser. I'd like to get as much publicity as possible because I want to send these articles to Ellen Degeneres along with as many emails I can get anyone to write requesting an invitation to a show or to meet her.

Ellen is one of my daughter's favorite people. There's so much she enjoys about her including her humor, her shows and her philanthropy.
With our health situation, Jodie's had to grow up very quickly. She has taken on a lot of responsibilities and the emotional burden that a lot of adults would crumble under. I want to make a dream come true for her. If there is anything you could do to help me with my cause I would really appreciate it. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions.
The Fundraiser site is

Enter "Jodie's story" in the search window and the story should be on that page. The campaign is no longer active but it's one of their success stories.
Reader suggests additional ways to help Bappe family
I’m not sure what Jodie Bappe is asking from the community, but I am sure it is terrifying to be 15 years old with 2 sick parents.

That said, there are lots of things available in the "safety net." If Jodie's dad was a Marine, he would be eligible for VA disability, about $900 a month if non-service connected. If he has paid into Social Security 5 of the last 10 years, he’s entitled to Social Security if he can’t work and it will last a year. If he has not paid in, he’d be eligible for $698 in SSI, same disability test. Same for her mom, disability and SSI.
I am reminded of something I heard from an insurance agent in South Missouri. "I was at the convenience store and they were collecting quarters for this 21 year old boy without health insurance to get a $21,000 treatment." The man asked, "Do the parents not know about the high risk insurance pool?" He said he went to their house, helped them fill out the forms and within 3 weeks the boy was covered for $400 a month through the pool.
-- Name withheld by request

About criticism of Heart Beat coverage of public efforts to support Shakir Hamoodi

In "Readers Rite," Mike Burnam alleges and objects that "you are supporting a person, convicted of funneling money to terrorist groups with an auction." Since he asked to be taken off your list, he probably will not see my rejoinder to his mistaken and irresponsible charges against our friend, local food merchant Dr. Shakir Hamoodi.

I am one who proudly and openly helped organize that auction, which raised money for the Hamoodi Family Benefit Trust: a cushion to help Shakir's local family while he's away at Leavenworth Prison on a 3-year sentence. In substance (though not in law) we have done exactly what Shakir did: help those in distress.

If Mr. Burnam had either checked the facts of the federal case, or even more closely studied the extensive local coverage of the trial last May, he would have realized that Shakir's conviction was the result of a plea-bargain in which he admitted to a technical violation of a Presidential Executive Order against anyone sending money to anyone in Iraq during the period of U.N. Sanctions against the Sadaam Hussein regime, unless that donor went through a near-impossible set of hoops for getting a Treasury Department license.
Many of us have termed this "a crime of compassion."

The government had Dr. Hamoodi's seized records for over 5 years, during which time he fully cooperated in interpreting and clarifying all of them, which scrupulously accounted for the moneys he transmitted for humanitarian purposes to Iraq. From the FBI and at trial there was never a finding that any of these funds went to "terrorist groups" or benefitted the Hussein regime.

On the contrary, our appeal for Presidential Clemency is filled with testimonial letters from those whose lives were made more bearable and in some cases saved from disease and death due to the charity which Dr. Hamoodi enabled, for which he is now suffering.

Mike, I appreciate the ongoing education and support you've given this righteous effort. I would remind your readers that Shakir's collection and transmittal of funds to family members and their friends in Iraq — far from being "terrorist groups" — was in response to dire suffering from the sanctions, during which they could not afford medicines, adequate food, or other necessities of life.

Scores of us in Columbia — whether we've known Dr. Hamoodi or not — have said that we would have tried to do exactly the same thing, if we learned that our mother was going blind or needed medicine that she could not afford.

We in the support community for Shakir & his family will continue to work to bring this matter to the attention of our newly re-elected President, who now may be less vulnerable to hysterical political pressures, to urge him to grant Executive Clemency to commute a sentence which is a travesty of justice, an affront to our common humanity.

Those who wish to join that support can follow this work in the online petition and blog, They also are encouraged to stop by World Harvest Foods near Nifong & Providence, both for shopping and for information.

This compassionate community must not and shall not abandon our friend and his family. I urge that we continue to take a stand against bigotry and ignorance. To do so is to honor Shakir's leadership on just such matters, for which Columbia is a more enlightened place. -- David Finke, Columbia

Mr. Burnam is mistaken. Shakir Hamoodi was never accused or found guilty of funneling money to terrorist groups. He pleaded guilty to sending money home to his family during the time when there were sanctions on Saddam Hussein. There was no evidence of any of his money ever having gone to support Saddam Hussein or any other groups. -- Aline Kultgen, Columbia

I wonder why there is so little publicity about Americare’s wanting to build a nursing home in an area surrounded by single family homes (corner of Nifong, Country Woods, Vawter School Rd and S. Old Mill Creek Rd). My understanding is that they want to buy the lot and have the area annexed into the city. I realize that your organization seems to indicate a city focus, but…gosh…this is barely outside of that. Not sure how you choose issues, but this could be of interest. -- Bev Fox, Boone County
[Editors note: Thanks for the note. I'm recovering from surgery and a few complications. As a volunteer effort (with a few paid freelancers), the Heart Beat rises and falls as I do. I may -- or may not -- have the time or wherewithal to look into this (reporters with other outlets might pick it up, though.)]