Columbians meet candidates for City Council

Holding up yellow and red signs and sporting a green sweatshirt for the holiday, Liz Schmidt acted as a stoplight for a Columbia-Boone County candidates forum Thursday night.

Columbia voters met and questioned Columbia City Council candidates for the First and Fifth wards at the forum. The Columbia-Boone County League of Women Voters sponsored the event, which also featured a session with Columbia School Board candidates. The Columbia Public Library co-sponsored the forum.

County panel rejects plan for factory

With a packed audience watching, the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-3 Thursday night to reject a proposal by APAC to build a temporary, portable asphalt plant in Hartsburg along U.S. 63.

The asphalt plant would have been built on 100 acres in Hartsburg, which is 20 miles south of Columbia, and was designed to meet the construction needs on U.S. 63 between Columbia and Jefferson City.

High fuel costs felt at Columbia gasoline stations

As the price of gasoline reaches a record high, Columbia resident Amy McBroom says she can notice a difference at the Petro Mart on College Avenue, where she works as an assistant manager.

“Businesswise, it’s a lot slower,” she said.

School issues focus of forum

School board candidates for the April 5 elections met on Thursday night at a public forum to express their greatest concerns with education and answer questions from the community regarding staff diversity and preparing children for the workforce.

The Columbia League of Women Voters and the Columbia Public Library sponsored the forum, which was held at the library. There are six candidates this year and three will be elected.

Area officials kick around mutual issues

Boone County public officials met on a first-name basis Wednesday night.

The Boone County Commission held a municipal government meeting to discuss countywide issues, including voluntary annexations and transportation options. More important than the agenda items, however, was the interaction between the officials, said County Commissioner Karen Miller.

MU students negotiate animal abuse hearing

A plea agreement is being negotiated between the district attorney’s office and defense lawyers for two MU students charged with animal abuse, prosecuting attorney Connie Sullivan said.

“We’re negotiating whether or not we’re going to trial,” Sullivan said.

Foster parents brace for cuts

Karen Anderson loves children, even those from other parents.

For the past 25 years, the Anderson family has given birth to three children, adopted a son and cared for more than 160 foster children who spent days or years with them.

Senator urges eliminating Medicaid

JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri state Senator pushing a bill that would eliminate the Medicaid program by 2008 described the health care system Wednesday as spiraling out of control.

Sen. Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, promised to “move boldly forward” with a plan to re-envision the state’s Medicaid program and begin again with a “clean slate.”

Peace rally draws students

Imagine you are an Iraqi citizen.”

This was an invitation to passers-by during a busy noon-hour at MU’s Speakers Circle on Wednesday where the United Activists’ Network protested continuing military operations in Iraq.

Protesters decry Medicaid cuts after bill passes Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — Dozens of protesters gathered on the south side of the Capitol on Wednesday to decry Medicaid cuts that cleared the Missouri Senate on Tuesday night.

The Senate bill, which is backed by Gov. Matt Blunt, would reduce Medicaid benefits for thousands of Missourians and permanently end the Medicaid program in 2008. Medicaid is a federal- and state-funded program for the poor that helps with medical costs.

Tougher seat belt law passes Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — Legislation that would toughen Missouri’s seat belt law easily passed the Senate on Wednesday.

The legislation would let law enforcement officers stop motorists solely for not wearing seat belts. Currently, people traveling in Missouri can be cited for not wearing a seat belt only if they are first stopped for another reason.

Fresh workers’ comp plan moves to Blunt

JEFFERSON CITY — Business was booming at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

The Republican-controlled legislature sent fundamental changes to Missouri’s workers’ compensation law and new limits on lawsuit awards — two measures long sought by business interests — to the desk of Gov. Matt Blunt before the body’s spring break, which begins today.

Senator proposes bill to boost mobile-home owners’ rights

JEFFERSON CITY — A top Democratic leader in the General Assembly is pushing for a bill she says would help Missouri’s mobile-home residents.

Sen. Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, presented a bill Wednesday to the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Local Government Committee that would impose new standards on both owners of mobile-home parks and their tenants.

Vradenburg opposes taxes, annexation in City Council bid

The upcoming Columbia City Council election might give Joseph Vradenburg the chance to do something he’s been thinking about for long time.

Vradenburg, who is running against Laura Nauser and Gayle Troutwine for the Fifth Ward seat on City Council, has thought about going into governance of some sort since he was in high school. Vradenburg is an epidemiologist for the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services and sees the upcoming election as an opportunity to pursue another avenue of interest.

Protesters fight Social Security privatization

With signs saying, “Hands off my Social Security,” members of Missourians United to Protect Social Security gathered at the Columbia Labor Temple on Wednesday to announce the coalition’s joining of the national campaign against President Bush’s plans for privatization.

The coalition is made up of several groups including the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, the National Society for the Advancement of Colored People and the United Activist Network.

Sen. Green proposes Irish history month

JEFFERSON CITY — Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, a state senator named Green is looking to honor the Irish in Missouri.

Sen. Tim Green, D-St. Louis, has proposed a resolution declaring March 2005 to be Irish-American Heritage Month.

Two face charges in raid of meth lab

An undercover narcotics investigation led to the seizure of a methamphetamine lab and the arrests of two Centralia residents Wednesday.

The Missouri Highway Patrol arrested Tracy McIntyre, 31, and Andrew Voyles, 28, both of 407 E. Simms St., on suspicion of possession of ephedrine and drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell near a school, endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree and possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana, said Sgt. Jason Clark of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Medicaid cuts move ahead

JEFFERSON CITY — Thanks to a straight party-line vote on an amendment earlier in the day, the Missouri Senate voted to end the state’s Medicaid program when it gave first-round approval to a bill aimed at reducing Medicaid eligibility Tuesday night.

Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-St. Louis County, proposed an amendment that would eliminate the welfare program by June 30, 2008. The amendment modified the larger Senate bill that would cut 89,000 recipients and reduce coverage for another 23,000.

Partial closing of Seventh Street debated

The Columbia Special Business District is at odds with the idea of closing Seventh Street between Ash and Walnut streets for an eventual expansion of the Boone County Courthouse.

The county’s Space Needs Committee determined at a Monday night meeting that its recommendation for courthouse expansion should include a request for evaluation of a potential closing of Seventh Street.

Bill seeks reporting of sexually active teens

JEFFERSON CITY — Teachers, doctors and other professionals who work with children would be required to report any knowledge of young teens having sex, consensual or not, to the state’s child-abuse hot line under legislation pending in the House.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Richard Byrd, R-Kirkwood, said the legislation fixes flaws recently identified when the state’s child-abuse reporting law faced a court challenge. But opponents call Byrd’s proposed changes confusing and unnecessary and worry it would prevent teachers, among others, from using sound professional judgment about what constitutes child abuse.