School board OKs drop in tax levy

The Columbia School Board on Thursday approved a proposed tax levy of $4.69 per $100 assessed valuation for the 2005-06 year, a drop from the 2004 levy of $4.94. “The levy is going down by almost 26 cents,” Jacque Cowherd, deputy superintendent, said.

UM hire will promote research

The University of Missouri System has created a job to try to help the state economy by raising Missouri’s profile as a leading state for research. John C. Gardner, a former agribusinessman and an MU administrator, has been named vice president for research and economic development, effective Oct. 1.

Council weighs cheating rules

The MU Faculty Council wants to change regulations about students suspended for cheating. Currently, a student suspended from MU is able to attend another school during his or her suspension, then transfer credit back to MU. Those who have enough credits are allowed to graduate, even if they are found guilty of academic dishonesty.

Dog rescued from fire

A lucky Cocker Spaniel named Shelby escaped a house fire on North Cedar Lake Drive on Thursday morning with the help of the Columbia Fire Department. The owners of the home, Jerome and Carol Van Sambeek, escaped unharmed with one of their two dogs, but they were unable to find the other after it was lost in the smoke.

Cattle tags track meat’s history

A new U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program aimed at improving the safety of beef and other meat exports is being tested across Missouri. If successful, the program, which will use electronic identification tags to verify the source and age of livestock, could mean more money for the state’s meat producers.

Former substitute teacher files discrimination lawsuit

A former Bearfield School substitute teacher has filed a lawsuit against the Columbia Public School District alleging racial discrimination. In the suit, Mary King alleges former Bearfield School administrator Russell Hardesty made degrading comments about black students and staff at Bearfield. She claims district administrators did not properly investigate her complaints and supported discriminatory hiring.

Tax credits help Rainbow House

Mid-Missouri’s Rainbow House has received $270,000 in state tax credits intended to encourage contributions to the agency, which has been providing services for abused and neglected children in a nine-county region since 1986. Rainbow House plans to use contributions to fund operations at its shelter and child advocacy center.

Drought aid for farmers available

A federal drought disaster declaration issued this week will make many Boone County and Missouri farmers eligible for aid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Qualifying farmers who have experienced at least a 30 percent loss of a crop essential to their farming operation will be eligible for emergency loans from the department’s Farm Service Agency.

A bigger, better Mizzou rec

At the outdoor christening of the Mizzou Student Recreation Complex on Thursday morning, Diane Dahlmann commented on the rain with appreciation. “The reason it is raining now is because it didn’t rain very much during construction,” said Dahlmann, director of recreational services and facilities.

Ridgeway snags improvement grant

More green areas with flowers and trees. Wider sidewalks and narrower streets. Alleys that are more user-friendly. Roundabouts and pedestrian crossings. Those are some of the projects the Ridgeway Neighborhood Association discussed Saturday at a meeting in the Downtown Optimist Club with representatives of city police, health and planning departments. The neighborhood association decided to hire a private consultant using a $2,500 grant from the Community Development Commission to begin planning and researching the suggested ideas.

New ideas for road work hatched

The Missouri Department of Transportation broke new ground by convening a conference for suggestions for how to improve its work on road projects. “This shows a change for MoDOT,” said Don Laird, Columbia Chamber of Commerce president, who was among the 90 people who participated in the Wednesday workshop at Stoney Creek Inn. “They are reaching out to us and showing that they are trying to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollar.”

Floyd: too soon to fix tuition rates

Elson Floyd, president of the University of Missouri System, said Thursday that he will not recommend a plan to fix tuition rates at an October meeting of the UM Board of Curators -- in essence, because it's too soon to make that call. Rather, he will present the board with a detailed account on public forums he is holding around the state. His "tuition tour" began this month and will end in October.

Aaron O'Neal's death questioned

From the frantic moments after 19-year-old Aaron O'Neal's sudden death in July to the preseason practices on the eve of their first game next week, University of Missouri football players have publicly stood united in support of the program. But Boone County medical examiner Valerie Rao - who interviewed 10 of O'Neal's teammates as part of her autopsy investigation - heard a different story. According to copies of her interview notes obtained by The Associated Press through a request under Missouri's open records law, several players openly questioned the response by trainers and strength coaches once O'Neal showed signs of trouble.

A homegrown effort

Crosses bearing the names of fallen soldiers cover 41 year-old Jamie Walters’ yard as he sits under a blue tent with his friend, Ruth O’Neill. O’Neill’s dog, tied up with a leash, sits at their feet. Behind their tribute to the soldiers is a sign that reads “Camp Casey Columbia.” Walters, who served in the Marines from 1983 to 1986, said Camp Casey is the name of Cindy Sheehan’s campout in Crawford, Texas. Her group, Gold Star Families for Peace, was formed after Sheehan’s son, Casey, was killed April 4, 2004, during an ambush in the Sadr City section of Baghdad, Iraq.

Bill to restrict online records

Mike Dalton stayed home Wednesday feeling under the weather, but he still logged onto the Boone County government Web site to conduct his daily business. As chief title officer for Monarch Title Co. in Columbia, Dalton regularly uses online property and tax databases maintained by the county assessor, collector and recorder of deeds. “I have 20 employees, and at any given moment on any given day, an employee is on the Web site,” he said.

Promoting off-campus courtesy

Bryan Kolburn, who lives at William and Ross streets east of MU, anticipates beer bottles in his yard this fall as college students party just feet away from their dry campus. Although the university is launching a new initiative to manage partying in the neighborhood known as East Campus — the several streets east of College Avenue — some of its college residents think it’s just a consequence of living there.

Texas discredits textbook

Daniel Chiras, an environmental studies professor at Colorado College, was surprised when his publisher called to say there were “factual errors” in his book, “Environmental Science: Creating a Sustainable Future.” Still, he made specific attributions for some of the information in his book as requested by the Texas textbook review panel. After all, he said, if his book were adopted for use in Texas high schools, he stood to earn between $100,000 and $200,000 more because Texas is second only to California in the national K-12 textbook market.

Deaton sees growth on campus

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton reviewed his first year in office Wednesday by touching generally on the 10 “priorities for action” he introduced last year. “Across the campus I just continue to see amazing growth in what we’re trying to achieve,” he said, crediting faculty, staff and students.

City to vote on deal for electricity

The Columbia City Council soon will decide whether to acquire an additional 20 megawatts of power capacity from a new Kansas City Power and Light plant scheduled to be in operation by 2010. The city’s resurgent interest in a partnership with Kansas City Power and Light coincides with a near-final agreement to construct an additional power plant called Iatan 2, next to the existing Iatan plant in Weston near Kansas City. Iatan 2 will be a coal-burning plant capable of producing 800 to 850 megawatts of electricity a year and has been in the works since 1995.

Supply lists lengthen

April Cockrell peered at a list of school supplies posted at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Conley Road. “I’ve already spent 50 dollars just on school supplies,” Cockrell said. But that was for Kortney, her sixth-grader. This shopping trip was for Katelyn, her eighth-grader.