Students read to raise money for new playground

Jordan Crane, a third-grader at Cedar Ridge Elementary, spent Friday enjoying one of his favorite books — in his pajamas. He was right on task.

Students showed up in nightgowns and flannels that morning to participate in the school’s sixth annual all-day read-a-thon raising money for a new playground.

Limited sales could kill meth

JEFFERSON CITY — Over-the-counter cold medicine could soon be under lock and key.

In hopes of curbing methamphetamine production in the state, a set of bills would require pharmacists to record everyone who buys a product containing the meth ingredient pseudoephedrine. The chemical can be found in common cold medicines like Sudafed.

Governor labels education as top priority in budget

JEFFERSON CITY — Higher education funds would freeze under the proposed 2006 budget delivered by Gov. Matt Blunt at his State of the State address Wednesday night.

During the speech, Blunt said education is his top priority as governor, and he allocated one of the budget’s largest increases, $170.6 million, to it. The majority of the new funding will go to support elementary and secondary education and their programs.

Text of Gov. Matt Blunt's first State of the State address

Lt. Gov. Kinder, Mr. Speaker, Mr. President Pro Tem, distinguished state officials, judges of the Supreme Court, members of the General Assembly, reverend clergy, fellow Missourians:

I come before you this evening to share my vision for leading Missouri in a new direction....

New parole system offers early release

Joey Eads is not used to getting second chances, so when given the opportunity to participate in a new judicial pa-role program, he jumped at the chance.

Eads is one of six Boone County residents to participate in a new judicial parole system that was approved in Octo-ber and initiated in November 2004. It allows early parole for Boone County residents committed to the Boone County Jail for sentences longer than 60 days. In addition to the six inmates taking part, 14 more applications have been submitted for review, said Capt. Warren Brewer, detention director for the Boone County Jail.

Touched by a tragedy

Mihiri Desilva-Udawatta ended her speech at MU’s tsunami memorial service Tuesday with a Buddhist prayer, blessing those who perished in the Dec. 26 disaster.

Desilva-Udawatta, who spoke as a representative of Sri Lanka and lost a cousin and many friends to the wall of water, lent a personal voice to the global tragedy.

Study finds Columbia is financially fit

Columbia ranked as one of the country’s most “financially fit” metropolitan areas in a new study conducted by the InCharge Institute of America.

The study examined how well 314 U.S. metropolitan areas measured up in promoting financial fitness for their citizens. The criteria for financial fitness included real personal disposable income, employment opportunities, creditworthiness, levels of savings and refinancing activity.

Syncing to the moosic

The phrase “golden cow” generates looks of confusion from most, but to students at Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools, the Golden Cow is an event they look forward to the entire school year.

The Golden Cow is an annual lip-sync competition between the two schools to raise money for multiple sclerosis.

3 picked for UM Curators

Gov. Matt Blunt made three nominations Tuesday to the University of Missouri System Board of Curators to replace members whose terms expired Jan. 1.

Doug Russell of Lebanon, David Wasinger of

City group to accept arts funds applications

More than $75,000 will be given to local arts organizations this year through the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Applications for the funds are available beginning at noon today at 13 N. Eighth St.

Last year, 16 local arts groups received money from the city to fund classes, workshops and performances. The largest award, $12,801, went to Theater Reaching Young People in Schools. Other organizations that received awards last year include the Columbia Civic Orchestra and the Missouri Review.

Senate panel OKs SMS change

JEFFERSON CITY — The stage was set Tuesday for round two of the name-change filibuster.

In a 6-3 party-line vote, the state Senate Education Committee approved the Southwest Missouri State University name change and sent it to the full Senate. The bill would change the name of the school to Missouri State University.

State senator tapped to head DNR

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Matt Blunt on Tuesday named veteran Republican lawmaker Doyle Childers to head the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Childers was a moderate voice during his 22-year career in the General Assembly, with a record of supporting clean-water efforts, especially in the southwestern part of the state.

Public welcome to view Saturn

No one is getting married, but rings will be the main topic of conversation tonight at Laws Observatory. Saturn’s rings, that is.

MU student accused of exposing self

An MU student suspected of exposing himself to children was arrested at his home Monday night, police said.

Jason T. Scott, 22, was arrested on suspicion of exposing himself to children ages 8, 9, 11 and 14 from a car. One of the incidents occurred at the corner of Westwood Avenue and Maupin Road, but police think Scott repeated the crime in at least one other location, said Sgt. John White of the Columbia Police Department.

Talent touted at Hickman High School

With bands like The Tipper Gores and Ralph Vader taking the stage, the audience Monday evening at the 2005 Hickman High School Talent Night might have expected a forum for mundane political discussion.

Instead, the audience got to see a showcase of the talents of 57 students who had been itching to perform for more than three weeks.

Catholics’ property holds many options

The new property of the Jefferson City Catholic Diocese has lots of possibilities.

The diocese signed a contract with Bristol Lake LLC for the sale of 22.6 acres within the former Philips farm, now known as the Bristol Lake Development. Although the diocese has expressed the need for a church, school and church office buildings, The Rev. Greg Higley said a precise plan for the property’s use has yet to be determined.

Blunt deputizes overhaul leaders

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Matt Blunt introduced Monday the two men he has charged with leading his promised overhaul of Missouri government.

Warren Erdman of Kansas City and Stephen Bradford of Cape Girardeau will head a commission that Blunt has created to analyze the structure of state government and to recommend changes to improve efficiency.

Prisons lose video games

JEFFERSON CITY — It’s game over for Missouri inmates.

Gov. Matt Blunt passed down an executive order Monday pulling the plug on video games in all state prisons.

Rios moved

Murder suspect and former Columbia police officer Steven Rios has been moved to the Boone County Jail, where he is being held in isolated custody.

Rios had been held at the Biggs Forensic Unit at Fulton State Hospital since he was charged with murder July 1 in the slaying of MU student Jesse Valencia.

Three robberies under investigation

Columbia police are investigating three armed robberies that occurred over the weekend.

The first robbery occurred at 12:07 a.m. on Saturday in the 1500 block of Hinkson Avenue. The victim, a 46-year-old Columbia man, was approached in his apartment building’s parking lot, according to a Columbia Police Department media release. The robber then showed a handgun and demanded that the man empty his pockets.