Refugee housing available

Carol Van Gorp of the Columbia Board of Realtors was hard-pressed to find time to answer all her phone calls Thursday. The group announced that it would serve as a clearinghouse to identify vacant apartments, duplexes and single-family homes donated by the board and members of the public for evacuees.

Gas mileage on minds of car buyers

Unstable gas prices might be pinching at the pumps, but auto dealerships in Columbia are noticing a change in consumer patterns, with more than the price of a car on buyers’ minds. The fluctuating price of the gallon is forcing car buyers to reassess their priorities when making purchases. Car and motorcycle dealers in the area said they experienced unusually high sales during the Labor Day weekend and that sales through August had already outpaced last year.

Abortion bill passes Missouri Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — After a day of debate late Thursday evening, the Missouri Senate approved a bill restricting abortions. The bill now moves to the Missouri House of Representatives, which is also controlled by Republicans who support the bill.

MU receives grant to study how cells organize to form organs

The journey of a developing embryo into a complex adult is a process scientists call biological self-assembly. A nearly $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation will allow a research team led by Gabor Forgacs, MU professor of biological physics, to find out how the process works. The project, “Understanding and Employing Tissue Self-Assembly,” will examine the cells that bond and form organs by means of biological self-assembly.

Council toughens integrity policy

The MU Faculty Council voted unanimously on Thursday to prevent students from transferring credits earned at other schools while the student is on suspension from MU. The toughening of MU’s academic integrity policy also includes temporarily withholding students’ degrees if the student is caught cheating in his or her final semester.

Commission at impasse on rezoning for condos

The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission remained divided Thursday night over developers’ requests to significantly increase the density of a new subdivision in northeastern Columbia. The developer, DDM Investments, is seeking to rezone land on the northwest side of Hanover Boulevard, east of Hinkson Creek, to allow up to 7.2 condominiums per acre. This would raise the total number of condominiums in the subdivision from 170 to 402.

Disaster Recovery Center combines local efforts to aid and assist recently displaced Hurricane Katrina victims

Hurricane Katrina refugees in Central Missouri will have one place to meet all of their needs. The Disaster Recovery Center, a coordinated effort between two local groups, the Community Partnership and Community Organizations Active in Disaster, is scheduled to open this morning.

Not guilty plea entered in school case

The Rock Bridge High School teacher accused of inappropriately touching a male student pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Thursday. Judith F. Burke, 51, is charged with second-degree child molestation, a misdemeanor. Burke has been free on her own recognizance since Aug. 10, the day of her arrest. No hearing date has been set.

State no-call law omits cell phones

Five years ago, telemarketers were a way of life, with most people resigned to the fact their dinners would frequently be interrupted by unwanted solicitations. Missouri officials tried to fix that problem in 2001, when the attorney general’s office set up a no-call list, preventing telemarketers from calling land lines; however, cell phones were not included.

A lesson in oil & gas

From the computer keyboard to the gas pump, oil — and its fluctuating cost — runs through every aspect of our lives. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, continuing instability in Iraq and government taxation are only a few of the factors that govern and influence the price of the barrel, and inevitably the products and fuel that make our lives easier.

1 Week Later

Sorrow hits home

LONG BEACH, Miss. — Lulla Bell went home for the last time Tuesday, more than a week after Hurricane Katrina all but leveled this Gulf Coast town.

Fixed tuition opposed at forum

Missouri Students Association officials described the guaranteed tuition plan, floated by University of Missouri System President Elson Floyd as impractical and a method of tying the system’s hands. “The only way I see this plan as being feasible is if you get any type of commitment from the state legislature,” MSA spokesman John Andersen said at Thursday night’s public forum on guaranteed tuition. “I’m not sure if we’ll get that level of commitment from the state legislature.”

Water patrol assists evacuees

Some families have their bags packed and are waiting at the door while others practically cling to the doorjamb, refusing to leave their flooded homes behind. That is what eight members of the Missouri State Water Patrol have faced since last Friday, when they were deployed to New Orleans to help evacuate residents and maintain security. With frequent gunfire in the background, the water patrol team, under the supervision of Capt. Bill Cox, has been going door to door in four 18-foot long flat-bottom boats, pushing past the dead in search of survivors willing to leave.

Buses crowd as gas costs rise

Izaiah Romero used to drive to his workplace at Manpower, a downtown Columbia business that hires temporary workers. But he has become one of an increasing number of residents who are leaving their cars at home and hopping on a city bus. Finished with his shift, Romero was at the Wabash Station, at Tenth and Ash streets, this afternoon waiting to spend 50 cents for the next bus home. He’s been riding city buses for about two weeks because of spiraling fuel prices.

Man pleads guilty to first-degree robbery

A man accused in the January beating death of Fernando Olivares pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery Tuesday, in exchange for his testimony against the other three people charged in the murder. Assistant Prosecutor Dan Knight agreed to drop a second-degree murder charge against Julian Jackman, 29, of Columbia. He was charged Jan. 20 in connection with the Jan. 8 home invasion, robbery and beating of Olivares.

Sessions to explain new Medicare prescription benefit

Medicare’s new prescription drug benefit isn’t available until Jan. 1, but a Boone County task force wants seniors and qualified disabled individuals to know it’s time to learn about the program and apply for additional assistance. The main goal is to make sure people know where to access information about eligibility for extra assistance and information about Medicare Part D, the new prescription drug program.

Education speaker criticizes school practices

An education speaker at the Blue Note Wednesday criticized schooling practices in America, saying they lead to “little people sunk in chronic boredom.” To a crowd of more than 100 people, John Taylor Gatto, a Pennsylvania native who was named New York City Teacher of the Year three times, said America’s school system is failing because quick-fix solutions, such as longer school days and smaller class sizes, do little to actually individualize education.

Citizen Jane speaker focuses on media portrayal of women

Images have the power to evoke strong emotion, define societal roles and expectations, and evoke a feeling of truth. But the power of images, said a speaker at Stephens College Wednesday night, is hurting people’s ability to define themselves. Barabara Wiener is the founder of TVbyGIRLS, an organization that promotes healthy images of girls. Wiener told a packed-out auditorium at the college that advertisements reinforce women’s sexualized image, their inferiority to men, and women’s stereotypical role as wife and mother, through the use of imagery.

Red Cross asks for help

A lone pine French door leans against an office wall at the Boone County chapter of the American Red Cross. A taped sign reads “I need a volunteer to hang me! Please bring a friend!!” Workers at the Red Cross office have been so busy helping hurricane relief efforts that they’ve had no time to install the new door. The relief center’s staff and volunteers have been working 14 to 16 hours a day to meet the needs of people displaced by the hurricane or to help with administrative tasks, Red Cross board member Greg Baker said.