Uniting voices

On a January evening, a small group gathered behind a nearly translucent curtain in MU’s Corner Playhouse. From a nearby fluorescent-lit hallway, passers-by could hear the echo of a chant-like verse: “These are my words, powerful and unwavering. This is my voice. This is the story I tell.”

The scene was part of a rehearsal for “Voices Made Flesh,” a new collection of monologues written and adapted for the stage by a group of current and former MU students. The production is directed by Heather Carver, an assistant professor of playwriting and performance studies in the MU theater department.

Hickman grad returns with storied band

Elizabeth Virkler felt at home playing trombone in the Hickman High School auditorium Saturday. A Hickman alumna, Virkler is ajunior at St. Olaf College inNorthfield, Minn. She is in her second year as a member of the St. Olaf College band.

In its 112-year history, the band packed concert halls all over North America and Europe. Band parents like Carol Virkler,who lives in Columbia, are used to traveling long distances to see their children perform.

UM System tuition increase lowest in three years

The University of MissouriBoard of Curators approved the lowest tuition increase in three years Friday morning.

“We’re all in support of the initiative,” MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said of the 3.5 percent increase. “We’ve had extensive discussion about the challenges on campus because of growth of the number of students and research, and a relative competitiveness for faculty salaries.”

Citizens back Katy bridge

BOONVILLE — The MKT Bridge, a historic and engineering feat, stood strong Friday night as citizens gathered at a town meeting to discuss future of the bridge.

The meeting, held by the Save the Katy Bridge organization at Turner Hall, brought 54 people to what economic developer Sarah Gallagher referred to as a “gauge for citizen support.”

Trip on plane causes more pain than gain

Our recent jaunt to the West was a stark reminder of why I love traveling in our motor home. When I pack for a trip in our motor home, I can choose to include anything I want — within reason. I don’t have to spend hours putting outfits together. I have plenty of room to put half my closet in the rig (of course, my husband would have to pack lightly). I can bring stacks of catalogs and several books, my laptop computer and even my crocheting — just in case I decide I want to knit a new scarf.

But because we flew to our destination this time, I had to limit what I brought for the journey. I thought I’d play it smart, so I packed one gigantic suitcase. Since our destination was Arizona, I went to the attic and found my summer clothes. Instead of packing my usual 10 pairs of shoes, I decided on three pairs. I brought enough clothing for the seven days we would be away, plus one extra outfit in case — in case one of the outfits didn’t fit, in case one of the outfits made me look fat, in case one of the outfits had a stain … well, you get the picture.

Sisterhood of support

Judy Purtell was driving to the Center for Women’s Ministries recently when she saw the dog.

She had seen it before, looking lost, near her home in Rothwell Heights. But this time Purtell leaned over, opened the door and watched the dog — not much larger than most cats, really — bound directly into her vehicle.

Wave of relief

It’s been six weeks since the images of death and destruction, unlike anything we’d seen before, washed across our television screens. The massive undersea earthquake off the coast of Sri Lanka on Dec. 26 unleashed tidal waves that killed as many as 178,000 people in 11 countries and caused an estimated $7 billion in damages.

The staggering loss of life and property was quick to capture the attention of the world community. International relief organizations are still trying to address needs as immediate as food, water, shelter and medical care. Long-term reconstruction is only beginning.

Initiative offers discount drugs to uninsured

While elected leaders and policymakers in Jefferson City and Washington continue to grapple with the spiraling costs of prescription drugs, at least some of the uninsured will soon be able to participate in a new nationwide discount-drug program.

Together Rx Access, set to begin Saturday, is a collaboration of 10 of the nation’s biggest drug companies. The program is an extension of Together Rx, which launched two years ago to help people older than 65 obtain cheaper drugs.

Finding a place for hope

In the midst of excited chatter, warm embraces and aggressive bidding, Glen Sapp stands front and center at the Ashland Optimist Complex to orchestrate a live auction held to benefit an area family that has experienced hardship and tragedy.

Across the room, John Humpf moves from person to person to thank the hundreds who came to support his family. He and his wife, Crystal, were set to leave for California on Saturday. There, Crystal’s rare form of cancer can be treated by one of a handful of doctors in the United States who are qualified to treat the disease.

Kleiza needs to lead Tigers

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — With his arms crossed in his lap, Linas Kleiza sat in the middle of the Missouri bench.

Solemn and silent, he would occasionally rest his chin on his fist to watch the game. He never removed his warm-up. He seldom stood up.

MU officials support Snyder

The University of Missouri left no question as to who would be the men’s basketball coach next season.

Athletic Director Mike Alden met privately with top university officials, including the governing Board of Curators, and unanimously agreed Friday that Missouri would retain Quin Snyder as coach.

Kowalewski sets scoring mark

The Columbia College women’s basketball team defeated Hannibal-LaGrange 90-66 on Saturday in Hannibal to improve to 8-0 in conference play.

Senior Lisa Kowalewski of St. Charles became Columbia College’s all-time leading scorer in men’s and women’s basketball early in the first half. Her 20 points put her 19 ahead of former record-holder Mike Kiehne, who played from 1990-1994. She has 1,887 points for her career.

Missouri stays winless on road

COLLEGE STATION, Texas –Yet again, Missouri failed to play a solid 40 minutes, and the Tigers lost their fourth straight.

The unfamiliar surroundings of an opposing court proved too ominous for the Tigers, and Texas A&M handed them a 91-63 beating. The loss dropped Missouri to 10-12 and 2-7 in the Big 12 Conference. While crushing to Missouri’s season, the game moved Texas A&M one step closer to the NCAA tournament.

Aggies spoil Watkins’ return to A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Before the game, the Texas A&M crowd applauded when Missouri assistant coach Melvin Watkins, who formerly coached the Aggies, was announced. But one gets the feeling Watkins is forgotten around College Station.

Twenty games into his tenure at Texas A&M, Billy Gilllispie is more successful than Watkins was in his six years at the Aggies’ helm.

Little helpers give with big hearts

Jutta Hopkins won’t soon forget the proud dad who walked into the Red Cross office with a blue Reebok shoebox wrapped with duct tape. Inside was $30 in change and a few single bills.

The man’s son and a friend had gone house-to-house in their neighborhood, asking people to help with tsunami relief.

Fan support, temperature ease Tigers

Some filed in after the Missouri women’s basketball game ended. Others were there from the first pitch until the final out.

But no matter how long they stayed Saturday afternoon, one thing was certain about Missouri softball fans: They were in midseason form.

Comedy program benefits Bowden

Columbia Police Officer Corey Bowden and his father-in-law David Thomas laughed out loud Thursday night — not an unusual occurrence at the Déjà Vu Comedy Club But for injured Officer Molly Bowden’s husband and father, it was a significant moment.

The two haven’t had much to laugh about, lately. Bowden remained in a drug-induced coma at University Hospital in serious condition after being shot by Richard Evans during a traffic stop the evening of Jan. 10. As of Friday, she was recovering from a serious infection, though a family spokesman said she was continuing to improve.

Annual cattle show kicks off as fans show off judging skills

The distinct smell of cattle and grooming supplies were in the air at the Midway Exposition Center arena today after exhibitors, parents and community members kicked off the 11th annual Alpha Gamma Rho Classic steer and heifer show Saturday.

The event started with a judging contest for 4-H and FFA students. The MU agriculture fraternity has been hosting the free contest for several years in an effort to give students more opportunities to judge cattle.

SMSU name bill sits in senatorial limbo

The next step in Southwest Missouri State University’s quest to change its name now rests with one person: state Sen. Gary Nodler.

On Jan. 25, the Senate Education Committee approved a bill 6-3 that would allow SMSU to drop its regional moniker and become Missouri State University. As the chairman of that committee, Nodler, R-Joplin, must now report the approved bill to the Senate clerk.

Amendment supporters starting to see rewards

JEFFERSON CITY – The real news at the Capitol on Wednesday wasn’t on the House floor – it was in the basement.

That’s where the transportation commission dished out $94.6 million worth of projects paid for by a new constitutional amendment.