Collegiate comeback

Less than two years ago, college officials said that without drastic changes, Stephens College would have to close within three years.

Wendy Libby, then chief financial officer at Furman University in South Carolina, was hired as president to turn things around. During a year-long strategic planning process, which culminated in October with a five-year “Renaissance Plan,” it became clear that the institution’s success lies in Stephens being Stephens.

Flat Branch plans to go smoke-free this month

On May 27, Flat Branch Pub and Brewing will go smoke-free.

General Manager Jim Lee said that all areas inside the building, including the employee break room, will be nonsmoking, but that guests will still be allowed to smoke on the outdoor patio. Currently, the bar area and the break room are the only two areas in the building where smoking is permitted.

Columbia's city planner search ends

The city’s nearly year-long search for a new planning director ended Tuesday when City Manager Ray Beck announced the selection of Timothy Teddy of the village of Lemont, Ill., to lead the department.

Teddy, 45, will begin his new job on June 20. He’ll be paid $83,000 a year plus a $300 monthly car allowance.

Wal-Mart run turns into afternoon adventure for cyclist

Today I embarked on an errand that many of us make, perhaps on a daily basis. You guessed it. The Wal-Mart run. This simple errand becomes quite the adventure on a bike.

I live on the corner of College and University avenues, so the Wal-Mart Supercenter is just a five-minute car ride down the road. I obviously knew this would make for a longer trip on the bike. My concern was the ongoing construction on Broadway.

Area briefly

Woman held in stabbing incident

A Columbia woman has been arrested on suspicion of stabbing another woman early Monday evening.

Responding to disaster

Dealing with disasters is nothing new for Columbia-native Jeff Chinn. In the past six years, he has volunteered in more than a dozen domestic disasters with the American Red Cross and has just returned from his first international aid experience.

Chinn spent two months in Sri Lanka helping victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami. Nothing he had seen before compared to the devastation in the small island nation, which was hit by 30-foot waves in the disaster.

Legislature split on seat belts

An unusual alliance between Democrats and rural Republicans in the Missouri House on Tuesday defeated a measure that would allow police to pull over motorists for failing to wear seat belts.

The House’s 91-69 vote stripped the seat belt language from state Senate Bill 221, a larger transportation bill that would also repeal a law requiring adult motorcyclists to wear helmets.

Schools evaluate teachers’ sick days

Margaret Haxel taught from a wheelchair for two years in the Moberly School District before retiring in 2004. She needed four surgeries — one to replace each hip and knee. After two of the surgeries, she needed help, and more time to recover than her sick days allowed. Both those times, she used her school’s sick leave pool to give her those extra days.

With a pool system, teachers can donate one of their sick days to a pool and then be eligible, if necessary, to use those sick days in addition to the days they have already earned. Haxel did not remember how many days she used from the pool the first time in 2003, but the following year she used the pool for five days.

Pleas entered in ‘Doe’ case

KANSAS CITY — A judge entered not guilty pleas Tuesday for the mother and stepfather charged with killing a girl found beheaded in Kansas City four years ago.

Michelle M. Johnson, 30, and Harrell Johnson, 25, both of Muskogee, Okla., face one count of second-degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child.

House rejects bill limiting county restrictions on big livestock barns

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House narrowly defeated a bill Tuesday that would have made it more difficult for counties to impose restrictive ordinances on farms with large livestock barns.

Family farm activists and environmental groups applauded the 84-77 vote, which shot down a bill that already had been scaled back in an effort to try to pick up support. Opponents worried that it would take away control from local governments.

Retiring public works director to be honored

The city will host a reception today to celebrate the retirement of Public Works Director Lowell Patterson.

The reception, which will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers, will mark the end of Patterson’s 19-year career as director of the city’s second-largest department.

Q&A: Mike Jeffers

Mike Jeffers, 44, who will take over as principal at Hickman High School on July 1, is ready to immerse himself in the traditions of another school. He has worked at Truman High School in Independence for his entire 21-year career, most recently as head principal. Andy Kohl, associate principal at Truman and recently hired as principal of Rock Bridge High School, told Jeffers about the opportunity at Hickman. The prospect of change intrigued Jeffers, and the culture and customs at Hickman made it an ideal choice.

School district refines budget plans

The Columbia Board of Education identified priorities for unused money in the 2005-06 proposed budget Monday night.

Before Monday, the budgeted revenue for the 2005-06 year was $8,513,424, with expenditures totaling $8,315,000, leaving a total of $198,000 left for unidentified use.

Q&A: Andy Kohl

Beginning July 1, Andy Kohl will take over as the new head principal at Rock Bridge High School. Although Kohl enjoys hunting, sports and cars, his real passion is working with students.

Kohl said he realized his fervor for teaching at Central Missouri State University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in math and education after attending Truman State. He earned his master’s degree and an educational specialist degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in educational administration. Kohl, his wife, Susan, and their three kids are looking forward to the move to Columbia. Kohl agreed to answer a few questions about his future as Rock Bridge’s new principal.

Getting time on your side

If there two things any MU student would say they need more of, they would be time and money.

And during finals week, time becomes the more valuable commodity.

Disasters averted, riding bike proves productive

What could’ve been a disastrous first day on the bike ended up being quite delightful.

I was talking with my parents the night before and explaining to them what I was going to be doing.

“Isn’t it supposed to thunderstorm tomorrow?” my dad asked. Sure enough, I checked the weather, which I never do, and scattered thunderstorms were in the forecast. The thunderstorms held off though, and I awoke to temperatures in the 70s.

Three arrested in Wal-Mart fires

Three arrests were made Sunday in connection with the arson fires at two Columbia Wal-Marts on Thursday night.

Police made the arrests after they received a tip about the suspects from the owner of the pick-up truck borrowed for use in the crime, according to a Columbia Police Department report. The owner was unaware of the crimes that were to be committed.

Neighbors, pastimes change with society

If you can envision summer evenings in your favorite small town with family members laid back on the porch swing watching the fireflies drift by, you probably remember when television was in its infancy and you could pop down to the corner and buy an ice cream cone. But flash forward to 2005 and nighttime across America in big cities and small towns usually feature the same scenario — folks gathered round the television set or the home screen, watching a film.

Neighborhoods everywhere have changed a lot since television became the No. 1 family activity.

Searching for a place of their own

Greg Hasseldahl sees starting a school from the ground up as an act of discovery.

As the founding principal of Good Shepherd Lutheran School, he is scouting a site for a school building that could accommodate what he sees as a great demand in Columbia for Christian education.

Unions accuse subcontractor of exploiting workers

Union carpenters sat in lawn chairs Monday afternoon at Stadium Boulevard and Providence Road handing out fliers that read, “Beware Jayhawkers Invade Columbia!”

The flier claims Dynamic Drywall, a subcontractor from Kansas for the construction of the Southwest Campus Housing project, is exploiting workers and squandering tax dollars. These claims are being made by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 1925 and the Carpenters’ District Council of Kansas City and Vicinity.