Forum to focus on MU’s medical school

In a meeting Wednesday, Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia and UM system President Elson Floyd agreed to hold a public forum in mid-January to discuss the future of MU’s medical school.

Columbia bitten by influenza bug early

Flu season took off early in Columbia, with the first reported case coming in to the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health on Nov. 21, Public Health Manager Mary Martin said.

As of Wednesday, 63 cases of influenza had been reported, and Martin said the actual total is probably in the hundreds.

City looks at room for all on walkways

While the debate continues, the Street Standards Planning Group has moved a little closer to resolving its proposal to revamp Columbia’s standards for streets.

The proposal was initiated more than a year ago by the PedNet Coalition, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission and similar groups eager to make Columbia’s streets more accessible to bicycles, pedestrians and wheelchairs.

Missouri legislator introduces bill for highway tollbooths

If Missouri Rep. Jeff Harris has his way, drivers on some state highways will be digging for loose change as part of their daily commute.

Harris, D-Columbia, pre-filed a bill Monday that would amend the Missouri Constitution — subject to voter approval — to allow construction of tollbooths on state highways. Tolls would help pay for improvements to Missouri’s roads, which Harris noted are ranked among the worst in the country.

Talk of the towns

When State Farm Insurance announced last year that it planned to consolidate its Lincoln, Neb., and Woodbury, Minn., operations centers, both cities hoped to save the local jobs at stake by offering financial incentives to the company. Lincoln would eventually come out the winner, due in part to what city officials said was an “aggressive” package of enticements from both public and private sources.

Early next year, State Farm is expected to complete a “top-to-bottom” review of its operations centers in Columbia, Tulsa, Okla., and Monroe, La. In a series of meetings with Columbia business and political leaders in October, the company said that any consolidation resulting from the review would not be influenced by incentives, which according to Bernie Andrews, president of Columbia Regional Economic Development Inc., would likely not be forthcoming.

Carol different tune

In John Worre’s “The Gospel According to Scrooge” — soon to be performed at Christian Chapel in Columbia — Ebenezer Scrooge does not simply become a good person, he comes to accept the Gospel of Christ.

The full-length dramatic production follows the traditional story of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” but it adds a bit more humor and music. Most of the dozen songs were written for the play.

TB testing not routine at shelters

As winter approaches, the homeless must worry about more than finding a vacant bunk in which to pass a cold night. Homeless shelters are breeding grounds for certain diseases, say state health officials, including tuberculosis, a respiratory disease that is contracted through close contact with an infected person.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has called on homeless shelters in the St. Louis area, which have reported 15 new cases of TB among its homeless, to begin screening residents for the disease.

Police close inquiry on Reality House overdose

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department closed its investigation Wednesday into the October death of 26-year-old Reality House resident Erin Bennett, whose autopsy confirmed she died of a heroin overdose.

Investigators determined her overdose was accidental, said Boone County Sgt. Tom Reddin.

Education during vacation

For the first time in more than 10 years, general education classes will be offered at MU between traditional fall and winter semesters. The pilot intersession program stems from student interest, MU officials said.

“Because the time between terms doesn’t seem like enough time to work, it’s hard (for students) to find jobs that fill that niche, but they have the time to do something,” said Brenda Selman, MU registrar. “We checked into their requests and responded with the pilot program.”

Harris to represent U.S. in China

Missouri 25th District Rep. Jeff Harris is headed to China.

Harris, D-Columbia, was chosen by the American Council of Young Political Leaders as one of eight U.S. delegates charged with promoting foreign policy discussions between emerging political leaders around the world.

‘Dear Iowa voter: please vote Dean’

With the faint sounds of late-70s rock and disco music playing in the background, local Howard Dean supporters gathered at W.G. Grinders in downtown Columbia on Wednesday to work on their grass-roots campaign for the Vermont governor.

The evening, called a “meet-up,” focused on handwriting letters to undecided voters to swing their votes towards Dean in the upcoming Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

Sharing time

Voluntary Action Center will need volunteers for two-hour shifts Monday through Friday, Dec. 8 through Dec. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Volunteers will be assisting in the collection and distribution of the holiday gifts and food for VAC’s 20th annual Christmas Program at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Call Cindy Mustard or Nancy Finke at 449-6959.

Boone County Council on Aging needs volunteers to assist low-income seniors with snow shoveling this winter. There is also a need for a volunteer to assist a disabled gentleman with grocery shopping during the morning or early afternoon hours. Another senior adult needs a couple of volunteers to waterproof her deck — this would just take a couple hours. If you can help with any of these projects call Andrea Kolb at 443-1111 or e-mail her at

Conference honors 12 Tigers

The good news keeps coming for the Missouri football team.More of the fruits of success were bestowed upon the Tigers on Wednesday when 12 players were named to the coaches’ All-Big 12 Conference team, up from seven selections last season.

Pulley cleared to play for Missouri

A day after committing 19 turnovers, Missouri received some encouraging news that might be a remedy for its ballhandling woes.

Junior college transfer Randy Pulley was cleared for action coach Quin Snyder said Wednesday. Pulley gives the Tigers three active point guards.

Turnover troubles

Before the first game, even before the first practice, Missouri guard Rickey Paulding was swamped with praise.

His promise earned him preseason All-American honors. His explosive dunks sparked discussion of greatness, even if he would be the last to say it.

Tigers eyeing Olympic Trials

Four Missouri swimmers might have Olympic futures, but first they will have to prove themselves against the world’s best.

Andrea Nigh, Rebecca Wolfe, Liz Schoborg, and Matt North will represent the Tigers in the U.S. Open today in Federal Way, Wash. The meet, which concludes Saturday, has more than 900 swimmers.