Chronicling the Renaissance of North Central, the Heart of Columbia

-- Sax Sixth Avenue: Columbia's King of the Blues
-- Recalling Miss Crayton
-- A Bash with Panache at Orr Street Studios
-- A Top Rated Columbia Eatery -- at Field Elementary
-- Imagining Columbia's Future...Alleyways
-- Readers Write

NEWS FLASH: Notable Historic Property Gala Set for Thursday,
February 8th, 7 p.m., Tiger Hotel Ballroom. Come and help Columbia --
and North Central -- celebrate history at this wonderful event!

1) Sax Sixth Avenue: Columbia's King of the Blues

On New Years Eve, Ken Brantley suffered a broken heart. "It felt like
a semi was rollin' over my chest!"

With that, Chump Change's long time lead man on saxophone stretched
himself onto a stretcher out his 6th street door, lady friend (who's
also an RN) at his side. An ambulance ride, a hospital visit and a
short stent later, Kenny B. is back for his usual stints -- as the
musician in Columbia's premiere and best known blues band.

If there's one person who's a giant presence in North Central, it's
Brantley, whose 250 pound frame can bench press about 100
pounds more than he weighs. A big man with a big voice, Brantley's
humble demeanor and street-smart savvy have made him a godfather to
some, a grandfather to many, and go-to guy for everybody else.

A boxing aficionado with an encyclopedic knowledge of the ring,
Brantley sometimes entertains his many visitors and well-wishers with
nights at the fights, recorded many moons ago. It's not uncommon to
come calling and hear 4 or 5 guys railing against Trevor Berbick,
calling out Mike Tyson -- or cringing aloud every time Evander Holyfield loses
his ear.

While blues and jazz aren't as popular among Columbia's younger fans
as they once were, Brantley remains philosophically hopeful. And why
not? Boone County National Bank's plans to host a local blues
festival this year could draw thousands into the fold.

That's fine with Ken, who reminds that without the blues, how would we
ever heal -- war, poverty, slavery, hopelessness, and all those broken

"That's where it all begins, man, where everything starts to get
right," Brantley booms.
"It all begins with somebody somewhere singin' the blues."

2) Recalling Miss Crayton

A prominent North Centralian told me he was visited at his home
recently by a person circulating a petition to recall First Ward
councilperson Almeta Crayton. Though we're not at liberty to disclose
the petitioner's identity, it was not -- repeat not -- mayoral
candidate John Clark. In fact, she wasn't even from North Central.

The rumored recall has set tongues wagging. A Crayton constituent at
a recent meeting I attended said she thinks Almeta does a "great job"
and "we're damned lucky to have her."

Another person said that no one else "steps up the way Almeta does"
and no one else knows the issues or "fights for people in her ward
like she does."

But others aren't so sure, including one constituent who was
"convinced" that if someone started a recall petition, "Almeta would be gone. It's not
politically correct to say that, but it's how a lot of people feel."

Some First Ward residents have complained about feeling left in the
lurch -- with few if any words from their councilwoman at critical
council moments. With each council person behind a bully pulpit, the
power to steer debate often lies in the hands of those who speak.

Constituents have also lamented Almeta's inaccessibility, citing
unreturned phone and email messages. Some say the city should make it
easier for Ms. Crayton -- and all council members -- to confer with
folks at appropriate times. Suggestions include city hall office
hours, and more importantly, pay.

As for the recall petition, so far the petitioners have been reluctant
to come forward and bring the debate into the light. That's
unfortunate because absent open discussion,
Ms. Crayton is subjected to something that feels more like a witch
hunt than an honest attempt to change the political landscape.

As for the North Centralian who was recently asked to sign the
petition -- he thought about signing, but didn't, saying he had "mixed

"Almeta tries, but she needs a lot more support," he said. "One
person can only do so much."

More on this issue:

3) A Bash with Panache at Orr Street Studios

North Central's Orr Street Studios opened with artistic elan last
Saturday, hosting over a hundred people at a reception in the newly
reconfigured Watkins Roofing warehouse.

And what a reconfiguration! The simple construction, flowing lines,
and welcoming lighting make engineer Mark Timberlake's artistic
inspiration truly inspiring.

Most striking features: the metal work masterpieces on each studio
door, which are not to be missed!

Who'd we see at the event: councilperson Barbara Hoppe; downtown
renovation guru John Ott; Perlow-Stevens gallery owners Chris Stevens and Jennifer
Perlow; and dozens of slightly dazed but definitely amazed faces.

Goes to show you what real vision can accomplish!

For more information, visit and

4) A Top Rated Columbia Eatery -- at Field Elementary

Connoisseurs of Columbia, welcome to Field Elementary School in North
Central, where the food is mighty tasty and the cafeteria -- mighty

Based on a survey of "Inspecting the Eateries" in the Columbia
Tribune -- going back 9 years -- Field Elementary's cafeteria scores a
perfect 0/0 health violations after each health department inspection,
recently beating -- are you ready for this:

Bangkok Gardens
9th Street Noodles
Flat Branch
Panera Bread
Red Lobster
Shakespeare's Pizza

Sample stats:

5) Imagining Columbia's Future...Alleyways

I was strolling down the long, wide alley that runs behind the
businesses along Broadway and had a brilliant idea! Read more at:

6) Readers Write

Mike: What a nice community service! The news of North Central
Columbia is nice to read in such a compact format. Regards, Mary
Kaye Doyle

Mike: Great to read about Brian Pape and North Central. Times are
changing the face of Columbia! Best, Nancy Harter

Congratulations on establishing a great community -- virtual and
actual. I've enjoyed the discussion. Clyde Bentley, Professor, MU
School of Journalism

Until next time!

-- Mike Martin
Editor and Webmaster

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