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City planner job still vacant after 8 months

It doesn’t bother City Manager Ray Beck that Columbia has gone without a planning director for more than eight months. Beck said it’s not unusual to take this long to fill such a high-profile position.

The job has been vacant since Roy Dudark stepped down in early June. To date, 12 people have applied, city spokesman Robert Ross said.

Group aims to save stem-cell studies

JEFFERSON CITY — More than 60 research groups and foundations from across Missouri have united under one name in an effort to protect stem-cell research.

The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures formed last week to oppose a legislative proposal to ban human cloning as well as a procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transfer. The procedure uses a nucleus extracted from a human egg to study its stem cells, which some scientists say could cure many diseases, such as diabetes.

Farmers’ market building examined for sports use

A farmers’ market located in the same building as recreational basketball courts could present a fresh take on the concept of after-game treats.

That’s one scenario facing the Columbia Farmers’ Market, which hopes to create a permanent, year-round home, as it nears a city-imposed deadline.

Face of women’s movement doesn’t like to stress looks

Gloria Steinem, whose spoken and written words have influenced history for decades, knows that how she looks has played a part in her success.

But she doesn’t like it.

17 report abuse by former priest

Five more people have come forward stating they were abused by former priest John Degnan, said Sister Ethel Marie Biri of the Diocese of Jefferson City. Seventeen abuse cases have been reported to the diocese as of Friday.

The diocese made announcements Jan. 15 at the Montgomery City parish and Jan. 22 at Pilot Grove, Boonville and Westphalia that Degnan, who turns 80 this week, might have sexually abused at least a dozen boys during the 1960s and 1970s in mid-Missouri parishes. They asked those who knew of such abuse to come forward.

Contentious elections compared

Recent reports by non-governmental groups on the Iraqi election and the Jan. 9 Palestinian presidential election reveal similar problems and stress the need for high levels of security.

Election officials and international observers focused on reports of poll-worker preparedness, freedom of movement and the importance of widespread civic participation. Security issues in Iraq prevented international organizations from directly monitoring the elections and limited the monitoring capacity of domestic groups.

Schools to decide Cingular contract

On Monday, following up on its January meeting, the Columbia Board of Education will review its contract with Cingular Wireless and the company’s proposal to build a cellular tower on the grounds of West Boulevard Elementary School.

The tower would be a 60-foot flagpole-type tower. The contract between Cingular Wireless and Columbia Public Schools “will not be executed until both parties agree upon the actual location of the tower, an appropriate fence and completion of contract,” according to a press release.

The power of words

When Sean Hickem was a student at Hickman High School in the early 1990s, he stood in the hallway and rapped about fellow students as they passed by. Hickem says he didn’t take his rapping seriously.

He didn’t know that more than a decade later he would be teaching poetry to young writers. Last month, Hickem, 30, started a six-week writing workshop for 10- to 16-year-olds at the Columbia Public Library.

Trip to Tucson fast becomes ill-fated visit

We arrived in Tucson at 8 p.m. It was raining and cold. I had spent most of the day either in an airport or flying to our destination. I was hungry and grumpy, and the miserable weather did nothing to lift my spirits.

When we found our room at the resort, I closed the door on the weather and fell asleep almost before my head hit the pillow.

Columbia is... SAVVY

Savvy (sav´e)

Adj. sav·vi·er, sav·vi·est

Well-informed and perceptive; shrewd.

n. practical understanding or shrewdness, as with fashion or money: a banker known for financial savvy.

Signing to God

Music bursts from two speakers set up in front of the basement meeting room. More than 70 pairs of hands move in the air and clap to the beat of the song. Although the sounds of piano and guitar reverberate deep in the chests of those signing their praises to God, the vast majority of the congregants cannot hear a note of the music.

And although their song is unspoken, they know God hears every word.

Peace of Mind

It is 4:45 p.m. on a Wednesday, and the floor of Benton-Bingham Ballroom in Memorial Union resembles naptime at a preschool. Forty stressed-out, shoeless MU students lay on their backs at varying angles, some wiggling their toes, others with their hands folded neatly on their bellies.

As Lynn Rossy sits cross-legged in a chair at the front of the room, her gentle, slow voice washes over the bodies lying on the floor. For the next 25 minutes, Rossy talks her students through “body scan” meditation, which causes them to become fully aware of every part of their bodies, from the tips of their toes to each strand of their hair.

At law school, mindfulness requirement in mediation program triggers debate

When Leonard Riskin learned that third-year law student Andy Hirth found Jon Kabat-Zinn’s lecture at the Missouri Theatre to be religious in nature, the MU law professor was shocked.

“I was totally surprised when he said what Jon Kabat-Zinn did was religious,” said Riskin, who is in charge of mindfulness programs at the MU School of Law. “That seemed almost inexplicable.”

Columbia schools respond to Bowden’s death

From Mill Creek Elementary to Hickman High School, the death of Officer Molly Bowden has inspired an outpouring of support from students and faculty throughout Columbia.

Handmade cards from elementary classes, banners with student messages of appreciation for the police and weeklong fund-raisers for the Officer Down Fund are some of the contributions that have grown from some of the community’s youngest members.

Police struggle with loss of fellow officer

The 3 p.m. shift change at the Columbia Police Department was unnaturally quiet on Thursday, as police starting or ending their shifts learned that fellow officer Molly Bowden had died earlier that day.

“It is something we have all braced ourselves for,” Capt. Sam Hargadine said. “And while we hoped for the best, we are now faced with dealing with it.”

Police: Suspects returned to scene

Jeong Im’s killer or killers most likely returned to the scene of the crime about one hour after the slaying to set the 72-year-old MU researcher’s car on fire, MU police said Thursday.

After weeks of investigation, police have also narrowed down the time of Im’s stabbing to sometime between 10:30 and 10:45 a.m. on Jan. 7. His body was found by police in the trunk of his 1995 Honda at 12:24 p.m. on the third level of the Maryland Avenue parking garage on the MU campus.

Horror film escapes the living dead

Chip Gubera was in a serious bind.

It was the first day of filming for “Song of the Dead” — a musical about zombies — that was shot in Columbia and Rocheport, and the director had no leading lady.

Reception to honor contest participants

Columbia Public Schools will celebrate the diversity of Boone County and MU alumni on Monday at an awards ceremony and reception held for the participants of the Celebrating Diversity poster and essay contest.

The MU Association of Black Graduate and Professional Students, with the help of a number of other organizations, sponsored the contest, which was open to all students in the district.

Culinary arts teacher chosen

Inspired by his father, Brook Harlan began cooking before he was even 10 years old. His passion for food continued to develop as he grew older, and in 2002, he graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Now, he is a culinary arts teacher at Rock Bridge High School, through the Columbia Career Center, as well as the assistant wrestling coach.

Next week, however, Harlan will leave his cooking classes and wrestling team to someone else. Harlan, 24, will travel to New York to begin filming for Food Network’s new reality show “The Next Food Network Star.” Selected as one of eight contestants, Harlan will compete in cooking contests and other challenges for the chance to win his own Food Network series.

Steinem accepts award

Activist and writer Gloria Steinem emphasized doing what is important to you as she spoke to a crowd of more than 200 people Thursday night at the Missouri Theatre.

“Do what you really care about,” she said. “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

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