Peaceful commemoration

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could have passed quietly. The Columbia Peace Coalition, however, sought to remind the community that the anniversary also marks the fourth year of the post-Sept. 11 U.S. military presence in the Middle East.

Wait isn’t over for state student aid

Recipients of Missouri grants and scholarships, such as Bright Flight and the Missouri Guaranteed Education Fund, can expect more of the same this school year: a delay in their financial aid. Students will wait another two weeks for their money, said Dan Peterson, director of financial assistance and outreach for the Missouri Department of Higher Education. Peterson said this year’s money will be released in late September. Last year, schools received the money in late August.

Insurance industry faces daunting reality

Joe Moseley, vice president of Columbia-based Shelter Insurance, doesn’t know how long the company’s claims adjusters are going to be assessing hurricane damage in the South. He does know that at least one of them is planning to sign up for the Christmas drawing at the Mississippi hotel where he’s staying. “He told me he wanted his name in that hat, and that he’s probably going to get in on the 2006 drawing, also,” Moseley said. “They’re going to be down there for a long time, but fortunately, they’re keeping good humor.”

Builders keep an eye on post-Katrina prices

Andy Ruprecht has been keeping a close eye on lumber prices lately, hoping that Hurricane Katrina won’t cause a significant increase in the cost of building materials. His company, Breakthrough Construction in Columbia, uses a database to follow national averages on the prices of building supplies from Home Depot and Lowe’s stores.

Video report

Program seeks to identify species in Watershed

Chad Rittenhouse has been bird-watching for nearly six years. While walking a stretch of the MKT Trail in the Flat Branch Watershed on Friday afternoon, Rittenhouse shared his self-taught hobby with newbies eager to identify Columbia’s bird species. In between bird sightings, Rittenhouse stressed to his group the importance of a watershed by saying anything that ends up in a stream directly affects the overall health of its watershed. A watershed is an area of land surrounding a body of water that catches the rain and snow that drains into that body of water.

Female home builders hammering away at stereotypes

After 200 women volunteered to fuel the second Women’s Build in Columbia for the Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity, more than few leading local women leaders applauded the construction project. On Friday, Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity held a ground-breaking ceremony in the Norbury Hills subdivision, where it started the second Women’s Build in Columbia.

Autopsy results probed

Months after Aaron O’Neal’s death, numerous authorities disagree about the role sickle cell trait, which O’Neal had, played in his death and how to stop deaths for others with the trait.

Meeting a new leader

For MU student Elizabeth Studnicka, World Youth Day 2005 was an opportunity for young Roman Catholics like herself to meet their new pope, Benedict XVI. But at the same time, it was a chance to honor John Paul II, who, before his death in April, was the only pope many so-called millenial Catholics ever knew. “It was almost like having two popes there,” said Studnicka, one of fourteen Columbia-area Catholics who attended the five-day event last month in Cologne, Germany.

MU backs Gans Road plan

A pending agreement among city, state and MU officials for extending Gans Road east through MU’s South Farms is one step toward creating a technology park at the agricultural laboratory. The South Farms are immediately east of U.S. 63 and across the highway from the 489-acre Philips tract being developed by Elvin Sapp. The extension of Gans Road is part of a larger project that is expected to include an interchange on U.S. 63 and a major east-west thoroughfare.

Board plans to discuss science grant, budget

In a move that would partner the Columbia School District with MU, the Columbia School Board on Monday plans to discuss an $800,000 grant to enhance science education in the district. As part of No Child Left Behind legislation, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to disburse grant money meant to partner schools with other institutions concerned with science and mathematics education.

Farmers flock to tomato festival

Farmers and gardeners attending the first tomato festival at the MU Bradford Center received more than just tips for growing tomatoes. Festival-goers sampled and rated more than 20 tomato varieties on Saturday morning. Tim Reinbott, superintendent of the Bradford Center, made sure there were enough tomatoes to sample.

New Orleans gave visitors a tasty vacation

Note: I wrote the following column almost three years ago. For those of you who have never been to this one-of-a-kind city, I hope I can give you a glimpse of its enchantment.

My husband and I just returned from a trip to New Orleans. We’ve traveled there more than two dozen times, not only because I like the city, but also because we have dear friends who live there.

The first time I visited was decades ago, when all I wanted was to stay up all night and party. The French Quarter after dark surpassed even my active imagination. I walked the streets with my mouth agape. The music, the lights, the throngs of people, some in total abandonment, was quite an education. One time with the big-time sinners was enough.

No matter what time of year I go down to the Louisiana port, I’m never quite prepared for the weather. My friend called me before this last trip to say that it was really “cold” in the city and that I might want to bring warmer clothing. She even mentioned that she had turned on the heat in her home.

She was very concerned that the temperature might go below 60 degrees.

I spent nearly one week at the height of Mardi Gras. I went to a ball and stayed up later than 9 p.m. I watched six parades and came home with two grocery bags of beads.

Now that I’ve done the “wild thing,” seen the D-Day museum, and ridden the trolley down St. Charles Boulevard, going for a visit is all about food. I’m not talking about the little puffed squares of fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar — those are for beginners. The coffee that is billed as a companion to these greasy French pastries tastes like boiled weeds. I no longer order the lobster wannabes that are piled high on a platter. They look like large red cockroaches and take so long to dislodge the tiny morsel of flesh that it’s hardly worth the effort. I also pass on another tourist treat — pralines. These flat, round wafers taste like burnt sugar topped with nuts.

When I say New Orleans food, I’m talking about the stuff that made Paul P and that BAM! fellow famous. I can literally eat my way through the city. I love any type of fish, and in New Orleans everything is fresh, not flash frozen. I usually begin my eating orgy at an oyster bar and eat a couple dozen of the raw, slimy mollusks. An hour later, I’m snacking on a plate of red beans and rice with andouille sausage, or I grab a bowl of file gumbo. And I always treat myself to at least one oversized cup of turtle soup.

Every meal is served with freshly baked, hot, crusty French bread and several pats of butter. This birthplace of the cardinal sin gluttony is known for its rich sauces. My friend’s favorite is remoulade. When we order boiled shrimp, she asks for a second helping of the sauce and barely touches the shrimp. She eats the sauce like it is pudding.

On the sweet side, the restaurants offer sweet potato pie and thick chocolate cakes topped with rich Chantilly cream. But the best of the best is bread pudding. I have made it my life’s work to seek out the perfect bread pudding, and I found it in New Orleans.

I have sampled the tasty dessert at no less than two dozen restaurants, and the one I like best contains coconut. Of course, the bourbon sauce is the crown jewel of the recipe.

Since I’ve been home, I have other memories ... of clothes that fit before my trip. Throughout my five-day binge, I tried to eat as spicy as possible because I read somewhere that “hot” foods burn calories. I don’t remember what it said about butter and cream. So for now, the only Creole seasoning I’ll be sampling will be shaken on my celery sticks.

Those of us who have fallen in love with the magical metropolis feel a personal loss. My friend and her family have not returned to their home. They, like many, are determined to rebuild. It is my intention to help. Money is needed, but once the water has receded, there will be other ways to lend a hand, literally.

If you have a comment or want to help, please e-mail me at undefined

Giving is not just for adults now

When fifth-grader Edward “Teddy” Porter saw the news coverage on Hurricane Katrina, he knew something had to be done. Collecting change in a large bucket in the office of Blue Ridge Elementary School, Teddy spearheaded a coin drive to benefit the American Red Cross.

Sen. Bond meets rescuers

Clad in matching gray T-shirts and navy cargo pants, federal ID tags hanging from their necks, members of Missouri Task Force I met with U.S. Sen. Kit Bond on Friday to share their firsthand accounts of the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. After expressing his pride, Bond asked the group’s thoughts on the growing debate over the effectiveness of the operation. Doug Westhoff, chief of the force, said members had been so focused on the search-and-rescue effort that they been oblivious to all discussion until arriving home.

Capturing tragic history

Art should cause violence to be set aside. And it is only art that can accomplish this.” — Leo Tolstoy

Jim Downey was spending a quiet morning at home Sept. 11, 2001, getting ready to head out to his Columbia gallery, Legacy Art & BookWorks, for the day. He was ironing a shirt when he overheard a report on National Public Radio that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. He assumed it was pilot error — until moments later, when he turned on his TV just in time to see a jet crashing into the second tower.

Missouri Water Patrol returns from New Orleans

Eight members of the Missouri State Water Patrol returned safely to Jefferson City late Thursday after spending one week in New Orleans, helping to evacuate residents and maintain security. The task of forcefully removing the last stubborn survivors and collecting the bodies of the dead is now the responsibility of the National Guard and local authorities.

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.