Bill limiting mercury in vaccines nearly law

A bill requiring mercury-free vaccinations for children younger than 3 and for pregnant women needs only a signature from Gov. Matt Blunt to become law.

State Sen. Norma Champion, R-Springfield, sponsored the bill, which requires removal of the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal from immunizations. She and others have cited the potential for the substance to cause autism or mercury poisoning in children.

Session marked by collision of agendas

JEFFERSON CITY — Behind the abortion saga that dominated the closing hours of Missouri’s legislative session lies a Republican Party division that affected a number of issues. It’s the same division that’s been plaguing the party nationally: whether social or fiscal conservatism should dominate its agenda.

Gov. Matt Blunt seemed to personify that split on Friday, first watching a bill to further restrict abortions die for the year, then two hours later calling a special session to address the issue this fall.

Thousands of new alumni bid farewell to textbooks, exams

Elizabeth Lentz will be the first doctor in her family, and her father couldn’t be prouder.

“She’s been offered three jobs, but she’s turned them all down,” said her father Rick Lentz. Elizabeth received her doctorate Friday from the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Restaurants, hotels reap benefits from graduations

Jean Hatchett stood in line Friday at the MU bookstore with an armload of Mizzou t-shirts, jewelry and stuffed toys to take back to her grandchildren in Perris, Calif.

Hatchett was in town to see her niece, Erica Byfield, graduate from MU’s School of Journalism.

Roof repairman charged in 77-year-old woman’s strangling

The man Zelpha Turner hired to fix the roof of her garage is charged with strangling her in her rural Boone County home last week.

According to court documents, Turner met Dearl W. Jackson on April 20 – 13 days after he was released from Boone County Jail, having served a six-month sentence for misdemeanor stealing. Jackson lived across the street from Turner with his girlfriend.

Wine by design

At Hemingway’s, a specialty store in southwest Columbia, there are dozens of wine racks and more bottles of wine than any customer could count.

With so many varieties, choosing is often a matter of visual appeal, says Dawn Vaughn, owner of Hemingway’s. Vaughn says that customers often base their selection solely on the label’s appearance.

An image of generosity

On a cold afternoon in late March, painter William Hawk leans back in a chair in his studio, which is filled with tubes of paint, landscape paintings, wooden boxes and an easel, he glances at a large portrait in a corner of the room. The man in the painting has an oval face with small eyes. He has thinning hair and looks to be in his 70s.

When Harold Bennett Kline died in 1998, at age 88, his estate left a gift of about $1.4 million to establish a chair in MU’s Department of Philosophy. In appreciation of the gift, Hawk was commissioned last fall to paint a portrait of Kline, who graduated from MU in 1932 with degrees in economics and philosophy.

Mennonite manners stop misbehavior

My husband and I are in the midst of building a new house at the Lake of the Ozarks. I wanted a rustic feel in the great room, so we decided to have open trusses in the vaulted ceiling. Our builder found a Mennonite man who agreed to make the beams for us.

I got a call from the builder last week asking if I wanted to accompany him and his designer to see the beams. I agreed to join them. I must note here that the designer brought her 6-week-old son.

Coming back strong

When the common flu spread to his heart in 2001, life seemed over for 50-year-old Rodney O’Neil.

“I thought for sure I was going to die,” he said.

Prayers of politics

One morning in late April at 9:30, bells echo throughout the halls of the Missouri Capitol to alert legislators that the day’s session is about to begin. Men and women in suits dart out of offices, walking briskly to the Senate and House chambers on the third floor. They weave in and out of a group of fourth-graders, who tread along, gawking at their surroundings.

Most of the suited figures stop at the chamber doors to discuss their course of action for the day’s business with colleagues. Only a few venture into the quiet, where the Rev. Carl Gauck steps up to the podium to deliver the morning’s prayer. As the nine senators already at their desks stand, Gauck reads Psalms 143:10: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.”

Return to the car marked by new perspective

This may be the final entry of the Bicycle Diaries, but I don't think it's the end of my using my bike for my transportation needs.

The car will become part of my life again. As enjoyable as the Wal-Mart run on Tuesday was, at some point I will need to get more items than what a backpack can hold.

Thousands learn joy of no car

Bikers and walkers stopped by Boone Tavern early Friday morning to grab some free breakfast as they traveled to their destinations.

Boone Tavern was one of 10 breakfast stops around Columbia set up for Bike, Walk and Wheel Week, a week-long celebration of alternative transportation.

Fair focuses on women’s health issues

A steady flow of women made their way through the tables of information booths at the start of Thursday’s women’s health fair.

The Columbia/Boone County Health Department sponsored its first, four-hour health fair, held at the health department to celebrate National Women’s Health Week this week, said Rebecca Roesslet, social services specialist and health fair coordinator.

Storm water specialist hired

It’s not just water under the bridge for Boone County engineer Sandra Wilbur. Handling that water is her job.

Wilbur, 37, was hired by the Boone County Public Works Department in early May to be an infrastructure engineer. She’ll spend most of her time monitoring storm water and helping the county develop storm water rules that will bring the county into compliance with mandates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Six schools get a piece of ‘Prize Patrol’ funds

Making someone’s day is what the Columbia Public Schools Foundation does best, and Jan Summers knows firsthand.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday, a small group of the foundation’s members arrived at Oakland Junior High to give Summers, the school’s media specialist, a $5,000 check to place 200 new nonfiction titles in Oakland’s library.

Roads hold hidden danger

Today’s story is about how biking almost killed me. Although it’s an exaggeration to say that I looked death in the eye, the week of biking has started to take its toll on me.

The effects from previous days are becoming a little more apparent: a sore posterior, weary legs and an achy lower back.

Reviewing Storm Standards

Fewer severe thunderstorm warnings and a new definition of severe weather could be the result of a National Weather Service experiment in western Missouri and Kansas.

Currently, the threshold for a severe thunderstorm warning is at least three-quarter-inch hail or winds in excess of 58 mph.

Area Briefly

Interim public works director is appointed

Chief Engineer John Glascock has been named interim public works director, temporarily filling a slot left open by the retirement of 19-year veteran Lowell Patterson.

Neighbor of strangled woman charged

A neighbor of the 77-year-old woman who was found strangled in her rural Boone County home has been charged with murder, linked to the crime scene by a bloody footprint, authorities said.

Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Crane charged Dearl W. Jackson, 47, with first-degree murder Friday afternoon.

It's graduation time; do you know who your speaker is?

Todd Barrett is going to his graduation ceremony tonight, but he’s not happy about it.

“It’s so long, and it just doesn’t excite me,” said Barrett, who is graduating with a master’s degree in accounting from MU. “I’m just going because my parents want me to go.”