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Vote is on for next One Read book

Book lovers in Boone and Callaway counties have the opportunity to choose between saving Earth from space aliens or exploring Afghanistan’s changing lifestyles and regimes.

They can participate in One Read and choose their favorite of three books picked by a panel of residents from Boone and Callaway counties: “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card; “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini; and “West of Kabul, East of New York,” by Tamim Ansary.

Some questions have no answers

I was saying to someone the other day that whether in spite of or because of the state of the weather, spring flowers seem to bloom in their own time. There have been spring mornings when I have seen crocus blossoms spread open in the snow. Daffodils, iris and forsythia always seem to flower, no matter the temperature. I think there is a life lesson here that we could all learn from. I think there are special moments when the rhythms of life, for no apparent reason, blend together in a harmonious refrain without the assistance of other identifiable forces.

I am always amazed at the number of times, for example, when I have had phone calls or letters from several special friends on the same days without reason, though I may not have heard from them for several months. People call such occasions coincidental acts, and for lack of a better explanation, I accept that. Frankly, I like to think there are forces moving in the universe that I don’t know about which trigger that kind of activity.

Political women invite others to cause change

Six powerful women sent a powerful message Monday: Women must support each other in order to change society.

“It is absolutely critical that we stand together, that we encourage each other to run (for office),” said Wendy Noren, Boone County clerk, who participated in the discussion at Stephens College on “Navigating Political Cultures: How Women Affect Policy Change.”

Math teaching adapts to technology

It is material that John Nies, a Derby Ridge Elementary School teacher, knows: basic math.

The problems and solutions haven’t changed since Nies was an elementary school student more than 20 years ago. The way students go about finding those solutions, however, has changed. Thanks to the continued advancement of technology, mathematics is drastically different from what it was two decades ago.

Six injured, one critically, in I-70 crash on Saturday

A Tennessee man remained in critical condition Sunday after a weekend car accident on Interstate 70 that blocked traffic in both directions. The five passengers of the car were listed in stable condition.

The initial investigation indicates Ron Benedict, 57, of Brentwood, Tenn., fell asleep while driving, according to the Columbia Police Department. His black sport utility vehicle left the interstate about a mile west of Stadium Boulevard and overturned.

Businessman emphasizes diversity, fairness, trust

Arch Brooks’ experience in the Columbia Public School District spurred his determination to try to change the system — from the inside.

“When I was in elementary school, my family moved to the white neighborhood,” he said. “We were not allowed to go to Grant School because we were African-American. The only school we could go to was Douglass. You have a tendency to remember that.”

Thrill of the hunt

On a recent Saturday, Frank Noel and his 14-year-old son, Josh, wove through nature’s cage of thicket and fallen trees in search of a hulking animal with razor-sharp tusks — the Russian boar. Noel followed a few paces behind Josh as the unusually warm afternoon faded into a late-day chill. The falling temperature would bring the boars out of their beds of uprooted trees.

“Do you see him?” whispered Noel as he halted and pointed down the ravine to a brown, hairy beast.

Spring break review gives Blunt mixed marks

JEFFERSON CITY— It’s legislative spring break, which means it’s time for midterm evaluations. Today’s subject: Gov. Matt Blunt.

In office just 11 weeks, the new Republican governor already has accomplished at least three political goals with the help of a friendly Republican-led legislature. Lawmakers have sent Blunt bills renaming Southwest Missouri State University and overhauling the workers’ compensation system and how Missouri’s courts handle injury complaints.

Unchained memories

Traci Wilson-Kleekamp often lies awake until 2 a.m. reading cemetery records. Her husband calls it sick and teases her about her fascination with dead people.

She calls it one of her life’s passions, and it goes far beyond reading about burials.

Park’s dog fence plans unleashed

Gone are the days of chasing joggers and begging for food from children at family reunions, at least for dogs at Twin Lakes Recreation Area.

The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department is taking steps to alleviate conflicts among users of the park by building fences to enclose a leash-free area for dogs, creating Columbia’s first dog park.

Driver charged in fatal crash

A 33-year-old Columbia man was arrested last week on charges of first-degree involuntary manslaughter after the death of a passenger in his car.

Lance B. Morris was arrested on March 22, five days after a one-car crash on Creasy Springs Road.

Memorializing a musician, writer

A vase of blooming red roses, with one pure white rose, sat on the altar. His stand-up bass with its trademark snake head stood nearby. Half the crowd sat in neat rows; the other half stood wherever they could find room.

And, of course, there was music.

Educators: School year comes up short

In America, most students will attend more than 2,300 days of school from kindergarten through 12th grade. In Japan, most students will have attended the same number of school days by eighth grade.

To ensure an equal opportunity for academic achievement, the number of days in a school year could increase in Columbia schools.

Hear the noise

The term “e-mail” has been part of mainstream terminology for years. An Internet search engine’s name, Google, is now a verb. And the word “blog” is a Webster’s entry.

Get ready for a new buzzword: podcasting.

Smiling trainer provides drive, muscle aches

For as long as I can remember, I have been in a battle with my weight. And although I’ve won a few skirmishes, I’ve never won the war. For the last decade it’s been a standoff. A few weeks ago I started my “now or never” makeover. First the braces (not my idea), then I stopped smoking (again) and decided that if I was really going to be a lifetime nonsmoker, I’d have to address the weight issue. It’s always been the number one reason why I start puffing nicotine again.

I heard about a 30-day makeover one of the gyms in town was offering. I met with a young (thin) woman who explained the program. She said I needed the “extended” program to get the results I wanted. I guess I’m too far gone to see a transformation in only one month.

A Special Sunday

Every year, an hour before the clock strikes Easter Sunday, members of Missouri United Methodist Church gather in the sanctuary on Ninth Street.

The ceremony begins with scriptural accounts of Jesus Christ’s arrest, trial and crucifixion. The mood is somber: the room is candle-lit, there are no flowers and black cloth covers the walls and altar brass. As each reading is concluded, a series of candles are snuffed out and a hymn is sung.

Beyond the sugar coating

For many children, Easter Sunday means candy baskets and colored-egg hunts. For church leaders and Sunday school teachers, combining all the fun of the holiday with doctrine and education is a challenge.

On Palm Sunday, children at First Christian Church were busy baking cookies, carving wood blocks and listening to storytellers as part of their five-week lesson on the Easter story. Amy Kay Pavlovich, associate minister, said each of the activities had a specific message to be found within the fun. For example, the cookie recipe, which had a hollow center, was designed to help the children understand reaction to the opening of Jesus’ tomb after the resurrection.

'Roids Rage

Ten days ago, a cavalcade of Major League Baseball’s biggest stars testified before Congress, yet another in a series of revelations about steroid use that have rocked the sports world.

Those revelations are felt acutely in places like San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis. But their consequences extend past those baseball hotbeds right into smaller cities and towns, including Columbia.

Accident blocks I-70

Police were still investigating an accident late Saturday evening that brought traffic on Interstate 70 to a halt in both directions.

A medical helicopter and an ambulance were at the scene. At least one passenger was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Well-grounded family

The farmer is 79 years old. Her farms are ages 107 and 140. In the rosy dusk, Grace Butler powers her big red SUV across a creek and winds up a hill to feed and count her cattle. She talks to them as if they’re old friends, and they really are.

As she counts the herd, she spies a black cow in a clump of trees. “You naughty girl, hidden here,” she says in a brisk voice. “I see you have a baby to come, don’t you?”

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