Faces: Monica Miller

A saxophone wails in a nearby room, immediately followed by the pounding of a piano. Monica Miller — sitting in a cubicle cluttered with papers, folders, envelopes and her Beta fish, Alastair — doesn’t look up at the noise.

“The first hour of the day I sit in silence because it’s my only hour of quiet,” Miller said. “Sometimes, I don’t even get that hour.”

Master Blaster

Underneath dried mud and white limestone residue, Randy Backes’ knuckles were pink from the cold, his yellow work gloves poked out of his sweatshirt pocket under Carhartt coveralls.

When he’s wiring up a blasting site, Backes would rather fill his pockets with gloves than bad luck.

Vietnam War sparked protests on MU campus

In May 1970, the United States was experiencing a dramatic period of unrest. The Vietnam War, entering its sixth year, was spawning disorder and protest, especially on college campuses. Demonstrations were occurring across the nation, including at MU.

MU emeritus professor of rural sociology Daryl Hobbs, who was chairman of the combined sociology/ rural sociology department from 1967 to 1971, said that a meeting of the department in May of 1970 addressed the impact of anti-war activities at MU and the response the faculty should give. Some faculty members announced they would discuss in class the causes of local and national outrage, while others announced their intention to dismiss class for two days as a means of protest.

Council OKs Bear Creek

A rezoning request to make room for Bear Creek Village, touted as an environmentally conscious neighborhood, won the unanimous approval of the Columbia City Council on Monday night.

The owner of the land, Andrew Guti, and residents of the area, spoke favorably of the planned development at the meeting, describing the plans as the best way to build in this area.

Speedy victory

Rock Bridge just keeps on rolling.

The Bruins (19-3) used solid defense and balanced offense to win their fourth straight, beating Smith Cotton 70-38 on Monday at Rock Bridge.

Student success rising at AP tests

WASHINGTON — More students are passing Advanced Placement exams in every part of the country as college-level work in high school becomes increasingly common — and competitive.

In every state and in the District of Columbia, the percentage of public school students who passed at least one AP test was up in 2004, compared with the graduating class of 2000. The Bush administration, which has been pushing to increase high school rigor, embraced the news, which followed other reports that have underscored how unprepared many graduates are for college or work.

Chemical makes meth blush

A new product that stains methamphetamine users’ skin is being touted as the latest tool in Missouri’s efforts against the drug.

But questions remain about the environmental safety of the compound and whether evidence of its effects will be viable in court.

Stephens’ season of change critical to athletic future

For a two-week span this season, the Stephens College basketball team wore unique jerseys at practice.

Coach Dane Pavlovich gave his team white T-shirts and told them to design their own practice uniforms.

Springfield lawmaker would abolish tenure

JEFFERSON CITY — Professors looking to get on the tenure track in Missouri could be derailed by a bill in the state legislature.

Rep. Mark Wright, R-Springfield, has introduced legislation that would abolish the tenure system at all state universities.

2 Pulitzer shareholders sue over buyout

ST. LOUIS — Two Pulitzer Inc. shareholders are suing the St. Louis-based publishing company, seeking to unhinge its planned buyout by Lee Enterprises Inc. on claims that the $1.46 billion deal is unfair to Pulitzer stockholders.

Pulitzer, publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Arizona Daily Star, disclosed the Delaware lawsuits in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, three days after announcement of the deal unanimously approved by the boards of both companies.

Red Raiders shadowing Big 12’s elite

For the past four years there has been little disparity among the top teams in the Big 12 Conference.

Since the 2001-02 season, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma have all jockeyed for the top spot, with the Cowboys winning the regular season title last season and Kansas the two seasons before.

Researchers study terror management

MU psychology professors and colleagues from around the country have gained national attention for their research on Terror Management Theory, which proposes that people cling closer to their cultural beliefs and leaders when reminded of their own mortality.

Jamie Arndt of MU is part of a group of professors who had an article printed in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin about their research on TMT. The group has been working on this research since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Missouri balks at river proposal

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Gov. Mike Rounds’ suggestion to tinker with the downstream navigation season as a means of saving water in the drought-affected Missouri River reservoirs was met with criticism from Missouri’s representation during a Monday conference.

At a meeting of Missouri River states, Rounds proposed changing how and when water is released for the downstream barge industry to keep more in the reservoirs and to avoid a “navigational preclude” that’s part of the Army Corps of Engineers’ master manual for operating the dams and reservoirs.

Feedback is sought on education centers

The U.S. Department of Education is asking the public to provide feedback on 20 new regional technical assistance centers created to help educators carry out the policies of No Child Left Behind, the federal act that mandates students meet specific progress goals each year.

David Thomas, spokesman for the department, said it is seeking input from the public to determine specific areas in which educators and administrators need help.

Cultural history always important

Looking across at the sloppy piles of paper lining my work table, it’s hard to forget that it is tax time. I think the whole income tax deal would be a lot simpler if we could just take our paperwork to the people at the Internal Revenue Service and let them figure it out. On the other hand, they would probably have such stringent rules and regulations on types of paper and number of sheets that they would accept, it would be a more complicated procedure than it already is.

Fortunately, for me, tax time coincides with Black History Month, a time when I’m usually busy with enough projects that I don’t have the time or the energy to give the IRS the full measure of dread it deserves. This year is no exception.

Anti-smoking plan on agenda

The bandwagon is starting to get crowded as more cities and even entire states continue to adopt stricter rules on where people can smoke. Columbia is no exception, as progress toward such a proposal moves forward.

At 5:30 p.m. today, the Columbia/Boone County Board of Health will hold its monthly meeting. The agenda includes a presentation by the Boone County Coalition for Tobacco Concerns, which will publicly unveil its proposed no-smoking ordinance for indoor public spaces for the first time.

A county with charm

Ruth Reynolds remembers when shopping at the Fulton town square was a countywide event.

“It was a big deal. People would come from all over the county every Saturday,” said Reynolds, a native of Fulton in Callaway County. “We would sit on the main street eating ice cream as our parents would do their shopping and catch up with each other.”