Blunt OK with SMS name change

The latest tug in the war over a controversial name change came Monday when Gov.-elect Matt Blunt said he would support legislation to change the name of Southwest Missouri State University.

Comments by a Blunt spokesman came a few days after leaders of SMSU and the University of Missouri system met to discuss an SMSU proposal seeking the system’s support in changing SMSU’s name to Missouri State University.

City Council prolongs debate over Wal-Mart

Opponents of a Wal-Mart Supercenter at Fairview Road and Broadway will have to wait two more weeks for the City Council’s decision on whether to rezone the site for planned commercial use.

The council voted unanimously Monday night to approve an amendment proposed last week by the developers and schedule another hearing for the bill at its Jan. 3 meeting. The amendment removed seven acres in the northern part of the site from the zoning request, bringing the total to 23 acres. If approved, the development would include a Supercenter and other shops, as well as buffers and road projects to make it more palatable to neighbors.

Storm may bring snow for holiday

In the past 114 years, Columbians have enjoyed a white Christmas 28 times. Whether 2004 will be the 29th time remains anyone’s guess. However, cold weather will be a certainty for the end-of-the-week holiday.

Vince Acquaviva, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said a storm developing in Texas will bring snow to Missouri. The weather service predicts snow will begin falling early Wednesday morning and continue until the evening. Although Acquaviva is forecasting a storm, he said Columbia wouldn’t see as much snow as its southern neighbors.

Digital trail leads to suspect in slaying

KANSAS CITY — In the end, it wasn’t a fingerprint or a blood spatter that led authorities to the woman suspected of strangling a mother-to-be and cutting the baby from her womb.

It was an 11-digit computer code.

Minimum wage won’t pay rent

WASHINGTON — In only four of the nation’s 3,066 counties can someone working full-time and earning federal minimum wage afford to pay rent and utilities on a one-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday.

A two-bedroom rental is even more of a burden — the typical worker must earn at least $15.37 an hour to pay rent and utilities, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said in its annual “Out of Reach” report. That’s nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.

Making spirits bright

As the blue couch inside the small office of A Call To Serve International overflows with donated stuffed animals, two women struggle to get through the door with more bundles of toys to add to the growing collection.

Boxes line the floors and walls of the Columbia office, but as Trish Blair, the director of the local ACTS International, said, they are going to need more.

Taxpayers can now pay online

Paying property taxes is never the most popular aspect of the holiday season, but Boone County Collector of Revenue Pat Lensmeyer is trying to make the experience painless. This is the first tax season in which taxpayers have the option of paying property taxes online.

The initiative began two years ago when Lensmeyer learned about online tax collection while attending a national conference of county tax collectors, treasurers and finance officers. After working out the bugs, the online system officially became available last summer.

County’s wish list for ’05 revealed

The Boone County Commission received a preliminary look at part of the 2005 budget Monday afternoon.

David Mink, director of Public Works, proposed a budget of about $15.4 million for the Boone County Public Works and Facilities Maintenance Department.

Millions secured for MU cancer research

More than $3 million in federal funds will allow the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center to expand an overcrowded research laboratory at MU.

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., MU and UM system officials attended the opening of the 5,500-square-foot research laboratory in the MU School of Medicine on Monday.

Sentencing in murder delayed

Circuit Court Judge Gene Hamilton postponed the sentencing Monday of Taron Crawford until Jan. 10 after his attorney failed to arrive to his hearing on time.

Crawford, 20, of Kansas City, Kan., was convicted of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting of MU sophomore Charles Blondis.

Christmas is what you make of it

This Christmas Day will find many people in different living spaces than they were in at this time last year. For many and varied reasons some will find themselves living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, with children or parents or moved out of their homes into efficiency apartments. So, for a lot of these folks, making Christmas merry will require more effort than usual.

I think the longer we live, the more we realize that life, whatever the circumstances, really is pretty much what we make it.

Picturing perfect

Ten games into the Missouri season, the second half of the Indiana game is the closest the Tigers have been to perfect. But close to perfect may not be enough when Missouri plays Illinois on Wednesday in St. Louis.

The Tigers shot 83.3 percent from the field in the second half of their 56-53 win against the Hoosiers on Sunday, but Missouri shot 23.1 percent in the first half. The Tigers had been shooting 39 percent on the season.

Cards not wary of Mulder’s slide

ST. LOUIS — Mark Mulder believes his late-season swoon had nothing to do with being traded to the Cardinals.

The left-hander, acquired from Oakland on Saturday, was the American League starter in the All-Star game and was the first 17-game winner in the major leagues. But he was 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in his last seven starts and a reason the Athletics missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Extra Points: MU extends media deal

Missouri has reached an agreement with Learfield Communications to continue broadcasting Tiger games for the next 11 years.

The multimedia deal will provide the university with a minimum of $32.5 million, but could net the athletic department as much as $50 million.

Chiefs flashing potential

KANSAS CITY — Nearing the end of a disappointing season, not all is gloomy for the Kansas City Chiefs.

A number of first- and second-year players are shiningly brightly in what amounts to real-time auditions for spots next year in what is certain to be a dramatically revamped roster.