LAKE OZARK — The recent death of an MU football player highlights the need for school officials to keep close tabs on athletes’ health to prevent future tragedies, University of Missouri System President Elson Floyd said Friday. Aaron O’Neal, a 19-year-old linebacker from suburban St. Louis, collapsed during a voluntary workout July 12 at the Columbia campus and died a short while later.
 Setting the tone The city recently joined the Columbia Police Department and state alcohol and tobacco control officials to help crack down on loud partiers and underage drinkers. Mayor Darwin Hindman appointed eight citizens to the Nuisance Party and Property Task Force, a committee that he hopes will come up with solutions to the problems in the student-populated East Campus area.
Community activists and a state official came together Thursday evening for a panel discussion aimed at breaking down barriers to economic development in central Columbia. Sallie Hemenway, who has worked for the Department of Economic Development for 12 years, said residents had to look to the private sector and not rely only on the state for finances. She cited programs such as community development corporations and neighborhood organizations in St. Louis and Kansas City that were started by people who identified problems in their communities and created opportunities that led to jobs and economic growth.
More than 130 educators and college students, a little too big for the middle-school cafeteria chairs they sat in, hesitantly leaned into circular tables to discuss a topic many would consider to be touchy — race in America’s public schools. After a few minutes of sharing experiences and personal revelations, forum leader Helen Neville asked for a volunteer to try and define the night’s topic.
Missouri roads may soon see the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but not from screaming wind or torrential rain. As Congress struggles to decide where money will come from to repair damage to the devastated Gulf Coast, proposals to cut funding from other areas are being discussed. The recently passed federal transportation bill and the new Medicare prescription drug plan have been topics of debate to this point. If cuts are made, Missouri could be asked to bear a portion of the load.
Hurricanes can only form in tropical areas because the storms require moist air from waters with temperatures greater than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The moist air produces water vapor that condenses to form rain droplets and storm clouds. The initial catalyst for a hurricane is the heat released from condensation because it warms the surrounding air and causes it to move faster into the upper atmosphere. The cycle causes a difference in air pressure, known as a pressure gradient, which creates a powerful vacuum that forces winds to circulate around a focused center, similar to how water flows down a drain.
Birdie Owens sits in her rocking chair and watches the television coverage of Hurricane Rita — loudly. “Close the door before you let the flies inside,” she says to her grandchildren.
On Thursday, a state panel appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt modified, approved and rejected dozens of proposals that could rearrange state government departments and what they regulate. The State Review Commission approved a proposal that would take away the Secretary of State’s securities division and take away that office’s ability to regulate investments.
An article on page 5A Tuesday incorrectly accounted for the number of graduates from the Mid-Missouri Alternatives to Violence Project workshops. In the past five years about 150 workshops have been held.
The Disaster Relief Center and all member agencies of the Community Organizations Assisting in Disasters have resumed normal hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center, which is located at the Columbia/Boone County Community Partnership at Parkade Center, will refer hurricane evacuees to the Boone County chapter of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross will take over as the primary coordinator for hurricane relief efforts and will continue assisting affected individuals in after-hours emergency services.
The Mid-Missouri Tourism Council has donated $2,000 to Columbia’s Disaster Relocation Center. The money will go toward purchasing $100 gift cards to Target and Wal-Mart stores.
Mill Creek Elementary ended its collection of cash and coins and deposited the money into an account for victims of Hurricane Katrina. School counselors are also accepting gift cards to various retail stores such as Target and Wal-Mart to assist evacuated families that have children at the school.
To help hurricane victims, New Haven Elementary school is collecting gift cards to various retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot until the end of this month. It is also accepting cash donations that children can place in the school’s communal pot.
Hurricanes have historical context even in the landlocked Show-Me State. Remnants of two hurricanes have already affected parts of Missouri this year, with the possibity of a third on the way. Jim Kramper, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said Hurricane Rita could bring rain to parts of Missouri.
For at least four years, the Columbia Festival of the Arts has been a staple for the African folklore group Afi Ama. Kunama Mtendaji, a member of Afi Ama, says the five-person group’s program of music and dance is comprised of a number of interrelated acts, each of which is influenced by a different element of the African diaspora. Afi Ama translates to “spirits most ancient,” and the show as a whole symbolizes the quest for harmony, balance and peace, said Mtendaji. For example, the stilt dancer reminds audiences to stay in balance with their lives and remember the great things their ancestors have done.
Columbia voters will decide Nov. 8 whether developers should be charged more to pay for new roads. Proposition 6, one of six proposals on the November ballot, would give the city five years to raise the development charge from 10 cents to 50 cents per square foot to pay for larger streets and thoroughfares to handle increased traffic.
A plan for what could be the largest single development in Columbia’s history generated little public interest during a hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night. In the end, the commission recommended the City Council approve the plan for a 631-acre subdivision known as Old Hawthorne, which would be built on a large tract developer Billy Sapp had annexed and zoned over the summer.
The new Wal-Mart Supercenter planned for Broadway and Fairview Road will feature red-brick construction, extensive landscaping, extra parking for a nearby school and an earthen berm to separate the development from its neighbors if it is ultimately approved by the City Council. At a meeting of the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night, some Columbia residents came forward to express their approval of the site plans. Others thought certain aspects just weren’t good enough.
As Hurricane Rita closes in on the Gulf Coast and causes gridlock on the northbound highways of Houston, the real chaos will not hit until the storm makes landfall. Along with heavy rainfall and flooding, residents can expect domes of water 50 to 100 miles wide tackling coastal homes. Known as storm surges, strong winds push the water toward the shore causing an abnormal increase in the ocean’s level. Its height can range from four feet to more than 20 feet, depending on the storm’s strength.
On Tuesday, the Columbia School Board reviewed three programs aimed at narrowing the academic achievement gap among student groups. The one showing strong results is the Minority Achievement Committee Scholars. Begun in 2002 and aimed at high school students who are minorities, the MAC Scholars program works to increase the number of black students who graduate from high school and encourages its participants to take Advanced Placement and honors classes.