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Five ideas: What are your thoughts on these items in the news this week?

Saturday, May 24, 2008 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 3:09 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Chief concern

Columbia City Manager Bill Watkins earlier this week outlined the procedure the city will use to find and select a police chief to succeed Randy Boehm, who is retiring to take a job as head of security at University Hospital. Watkins’ plan calls for appointing an interim chief within the next few weeks, creating an advisory board, hiring a head-hunting firm to conduct a national search and holding a series of public and private interviews with promising candidates. The entire process, he estimates, should take about seven months. He hopes to have a new chief in place by the first of next year.

Watkins said in a report to the council that, aside from the city manager, the position of police chief is perhaps the most politically sensitive job in city government. Given the ongoing debate about whether to establish a citizen review board and concerns about racial profiling, the search process is sure to generate a lot of community interest.

What qualities would you like to see in your next police chief, and what priorities do you believe he or she should bring to the job?

Forest rift

The Missouri Wilderness Coalition is urging the U.S. Forest Service to designate the 2,195-acre Smith Creek forest, and an adjacent 200 acres known as the Epple tract, a federal protected wilderness area. The designation would prevent all timber cutting or road construction, effectively preserving the area in its natural state. Smith Creek, which is several miles southeast of Columbia, is part of the Cedar Creek Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest.

Smith Creek already is managed as a semi-primitive forest, which means no motorized vehicles or roads are allowed. The Forest Service, however, has published plans to allow some livestock grazing, tree cutting and trail, road and parking lot construction in the Epple tract, saying the idea is in response to the desires of constituents it will not yet name. Wilderness Coalition members wish the government would simply leave Smith Creek – and six other natural areas in Missouri – alone.

The Forest Service already has received reams of public comment on its proposal. It plans to revise that plan and open it up for another round of public comment later this summer.

How would like to see the Smith Creek area managed?

Marquee attraction

After 10 months of restoration work that cost about $10 million, the historic Missouri Theatre on Ninth Street reopened Wednesday with a black-tie celebration featuring champagne, hors d’oeuvres and a performance by legendary crooner Tony Bennett. Hundreds gathered for the high-society affair, which culminated years of effort to raise money for the renovation and see the project through.

The rejuvenated theater opened to rave reviews. It joins the ranks of other theaters across the country that have undergone expensive renovations over the past several years, thanks in large part to the generous financial support of their respective communities. But the challenge doesn’t end when the doors reopen. Representatives of restored theaters in Rockford, Ill., and Pittsfield, Mass., told the Missourian for a story published last week that they continue to rely heavily on private donations to keep their facilities afloat. In Pittsfield, the Colonial Theatre gets 55 percent of its revenue from contributions and grants; Rockford’s Coronado Performing Arts Center generates only about 60 percent to 65 percent of the income it needs to stay in operation.

It took years to raise the $10 million necessary to fund the Missouri Theatre renovation. Now that it’s done, how will Columbia ensure it remains financially viable?

Taking aim at a “Silent Killer”

How often do you check your blood pressure?

Chances are, not often enough.

The American Heart Association has concluded that semi-regular visits to a doctor’s office or pharmacy for blood pressure checks isn’t enough. The Association on Thursday began urging the estimated 72 million Americans with high blood pressure, which is known as the “silent killer” because of the lack of symptoms, to invest in their own monitor.

Getting a bead on day-to-day blood pressure readings can help doctors fine-tune medications and better control the risks, according to a statement published Thursday in the journal Hypertension.

The cost for an at-home blood pressure monitor ranges from about $50 to $100, according to The Associated Press.

The Columbia/Boone County Health Department advises that several blood pressure readings are needed before deciding on treatment. The Health Department recommends regular checks, especially for people 50 and older.

A nurse will check your blood pressure for free at the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, which is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. There’s also literature available for review that can explain the difference between systolic pressure and diastolic pressure and outline the range for normal readings.

How often to you have your blood pressure checked, and how do you track your readings over time?

Sports and academics

It’s an ongoing debate. How much weight does athletic success deserve?

Start with the bad news.

If you count last fall’s Big 12 North football title, it brings the total to three.

That’s just three Big 12 Titles for the University of Missouri since the Big 8 expanded to the Big 12 just over a decade ago.

Now, some better news.

Last fall, in one of its best seasons ever, the University of Missouri’s football team finished the season in a New Year’s Day Bowl game and ranked fourth nationally.

Some say that athletic success has contributed to everything from increased contributions to increased student applications for the coming fall. Even t-shirt sales have spiked.

This weekend, the baseball team is competing in the Big 12 championship tournament while the university’s softball team, which fell just short of a Big 12 title last season, is competing in the NCAA super regionals for the first time in program history.

So the debate continues.

How much do you believe athletic success contributes to a university’s overall success?


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