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MAP to shorten exams, test more grade levels

State officials are revising the 2006 Missouri Assessment Program testing format and including more grade levels in order to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Next year, NCLB, which sets progress goals for states to meet each year, will require that grades three through eight be tested in both communication arts and math. Currently, third-, seventh- and 11th-graders in Missouri are tested in communication arts. Fourth-, eighth- and 10th- graders are tested in math. Missouri’s tests for grades 10 and 11 already meet standards.

Dixie flag bill now out of committee

JEFFERSON CITY — The march to return the Confederate battle flag to two Missouri memorials moved one step closer to its goal Wednesday.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would enhance the responsibilities of the Missouri State Park Board and would grant that board the power to raise the flags. The 8-0 vote passed the bill onto the full Senate for debate.

‘People of interest’ probed in arson case

Police detectives and fire investigators are set to interview several “people of interest” in the investigation of an arson that occurred in a Columbia mobile home park last week.

Assistant Fire Marshall Clayton Farr Jr. stressed that the investigation is still ongoing. As of Wednesday afternoon, no arrests had been made nor had any arrest warrants been requested in the case.

Report: Sheriff death was suicide

JEFFERSON CITY — A police investigation has confirmed that Cole County Sheriff George Brooks intentionally shot himself in the head with his service gun.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol released the conclusion Wednesday, about a month after Brooks’ Jan. 11 death inside the garage at his home. A special election is scheduled April 5 to choose Brooks’ replacement.

Schepker named budget director

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Matt Blunt has already proposed a budget. Now he has a budget director.

Blunt named Larry Schepker, 57, as director of the Division of Budget and Planning in the Office of Administration on Wednesday. It will be Schepker’s job to promote and defend Blunt’s budget to the legislature.

Workers’ benefits legislation moves ahead

JEFFERSON CITY — The narrowing of injuries covered under Missouri’s workers’ compensation law won first-round approval Wednesday night.

After two sessions and more than five-and-a-half hours of debate, the bill won initial approval by a voice vote of the Missouri Senate.

EZ Park program set to expand

Thanks to the EZ Park card program, deliveryman Matt Jones can keep his quarters.

“It saves me a ton of money because there were a lot of times when I just needed to drop something off and all I had was a quarter,” Jones said.

Students value college, but many don’t go

Young adults value college, but many haven’t enrolled because of money woes, poor preparation, low expectations at home or sheer laziness, a survey found.

The result is that seven in 10 young workers without college degrees say they are in their jobs by chance, not by choice. Fewer than two in 10 view their jobs as likely careers.

Places: Simmons Field

Simmons Field in Taylor Stadium is the home of MU baseball. The stadium is on Research Park Drive off Providence Road behind the Daniel Devine Pavilion.

In 1959, the team moved from Rollins Field to a new field, named in honor of John Simmons, who coached the Tigers for 34 years. During this time, the team won 11 conference titles and went to the College World Series six times. They won once in 1954 and placed second three times.

Now You Know: GMOs not deterrent

What was learned: Labeling food that contains ingredients from genetically modified organisms will not deter European consumers from buying the products. This is contrary to the popular belief that spurred several large grocery chains to ban these modified ingredients in their store-brand products in 1998 and the European Union to mandate such labeling in 1997.

How we found out: European attitude surveys, such as the Eurobarometer, have consistently shown a widespread skepticism to GMO among Europeans.

Now You Know: Military backed here

Columbia College has been providing educational opportunity for service members and their families for more than 30 years.

The college is a member of Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges, which serves all active and reserve armed forces members and their families.

Molly Bowden dies

According to a media release from the Columbia Police Department, Officer Molly Bowden died early Thursday afternoon from injuries she received in a Jan. 10 shooting.

Chinese in Columbia ring in the Year of the Rooster

Some might feel the holiday season has come and gone, but it is in full swing for Boone County’s Chinese community. Today, is the first day of the Chinese New Year, which is a major 15-day celebration in China.

Kathy Zhang, an MU graduate student, said the Chinese New Year is similar to widely celebrated American holidays.

Arts educator to get state award

Susan Cole, coordinator of state programs at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Springfield, remembers her grade school art classes in Cape Girardeau as consisting of once-a-week music classes where the teacher came to the classroom with a cart. Integration of the arts into science, math, English and social studies was nonexistent. Cole made integration her goal.

“I think it is critical that when boys and girls of any social status are in school they experience something beautiful every day,” Cole said.

A rare breed of celebrity

A certain big-time, A-list celebrity is secretly living in Columbia. His prints aren’t set in concrete in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater, and he’s not up for an Academy Award — but he’s certainly winning judges’ acclaim.

This star enjoys a good scratch on the belly, a nice afternoon nap on the floor and a chuck under the chin from passers-by.

Start of Lent brings time of deep faith

From dawn until evening today, at churches across Columbia and Boone County, hundreds of residents will have their foreheads marked with ashes in the sign of the cross. The ashes, an age-old sign of repentance, are derived from the celebratory branches handed out at the last year’s Palm Sunday service.

Ash Wednesday begins a 40-day period of repentance from sin known as Lent. The Lenten season — the word comes from an Old English term meaning lengthening of light or spring — began in the church’s infancy as a period to prepare believers to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.

City getting new water main

Most Columbia residents should never notice the expansion of their water delivery services. Two homeowners, however, will literally see the expansion in their back yards.

Columbia is expanding the McBaine Water Treatment Plant and adding a 21,600-foot water main. These measures are the result of a $28.3 million bond issue approved by voters on Nov. 4, 2003.

County shells out money for land

Boone County is paying high dollar for parts of downtown as the value of property in The District increases.

“There have been more real estate sales in The District in the past two years than there have been in the past 10 years,” Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker said.

Small cities weigh tax incentives

The largest private employer in Ashland is Moser’s grocery store, which employs 30 people. The big boss in Hallsville is Mid-State Petroleum, with 10 employees, while in Centralia it’s A.B. Chance Co. For the past 100 years, one out of four people in town worked for the company.

Now, smaller cities in Boone County are taking cautious steps to lure more capital. Chapter 100 bonds, the first tax-incentive plan to gain steam in Boone County, are changing the way of doing business in mid-Missouri.

Workers’ comp bill revives

JEFFERSON CITY — Informal negotiations between a handful of Senate Republicans and Democrats will probably push a bill to reduce the state worker’s compensation program to the floor today.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. John Loudon, R-St. Louis County, said the talks came at the request of the governor’s office and were aimed at paving the way for passage of a bill that would restrict worker’s compensation claims to injuries in which work was the “prevailing cause” and exempt injuries of an unknown cause and injuries that result from a preexisting condition.

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