Legislators consider repealing helmet law

Tracy Benton has spent 22 years riding motorcycles, the past five in Missouri. Much has changed in that time — bikes are faster, more powerful and more popular. But in Missouri, one thing has remained constant for Benton: Helmet-wearing is required by law.

Benton, who leads the mid-Missouri chapter of the Freedom of the Road Riders, said he should be entitled to make up his own mind about helmet-wearing.

City aims to assess planning

The city wants your input, and that’s news to some people.

In an effort to better increase communication between the public and city planners, the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission formed a 12-member committee last week that includes representatives from various public organizations and private companies.

Two arrested on liquor charges; cash, business records seized

Undercover agents with the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control on Sunday arrested Zachary Riley, 36, and Autumn Cox, 41, on charges of operating a nightclub, the Corn’s Lake Bar in rural Boone County, without a state liquor license.

A court date has been set for Feb. 24 for a misdemeanor charge of selling alcohol without a license.

U.S. Cellular sponsors Black History Month art competition

Elementary students are celebrating Black History Month by participating in the second annual U.S. Cellular-sponsored art competition.

Columbia Public School students in grades one through five can participate by submitting an original portrait of a famous historical or present day African-American person using any art medium. The competition began Feb. 1.

Earnings tax proposed as funding fix

Only two weeks before a self-imposed deadline, a legislative committee charged with fixing the formula for distributing state money to school districts discussed what some members called a novel plan to replace local property taxes with a statewide earnings tax.

The plan is the brainchild of Rep. Ed Robb, R-Columbia. Robb is a former MU economics professor who specialized in governmental budgeting.

Best film will win screening at True/False

Aspiring filmmakers from mid-Missouri can win a chance to have their short film screened at the upcoming True/False Film Festival.

The CATapult Cinema Showdown is a contest of three- to five-minute films inspired by “This Charming Couple,” an 18-minute educational short filmed in Columbia in the 1950s by the government. The film explores the dangers of hasty marriage in the face of rising divorce rates and focuses on the engagement, marriage and ultimate divorce of a young couple, Ken and Winnie.

Final Respects

Officer Molly Bowden’s police cruiser was draped in black as its radio

crackled in the crisp air at Memorial Park Cemetery in Columbia on Tuesday afternoon.

Housing Authority tables vote on solicitation

For the second month in a row, the Columbia Housing Authority tabled a resolution Tuesday that would restrict door-to-door solicitation in Oak and Paquin Towers.

A standing room only crowd of about 30 people filled a meeting room in the Housing Authority building. Most were present either in support of or opposition to resolution 2277, which would ban all uninvited visitors from the residential hallways of Oak and Paquin Towers. Certain groups would be allowed to set up tables in the lobbies of the two buildings with permission from the Housing Authority’s executive director.

SMSU bill unfrozen with Floyd’s OK

Although it appears the bill allowing Southwest Missouri State University to drop the “Southwest” from its name will clear the Senate today, it has a long way to go in the House of Representatives.

Members of Boone County’s delegation in the House oppose the name change and said Tuesday they were unsure how it would work its way through the lower chamber.

House bill seeks limits on punitive damages

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House debated a measure Tuesday that would limit the awards Missourians can expect in civil cases.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Richard Byrd, R-St. Louis County, would cap most punitive damages at $250,000 or three times economic damages awarded in the case, whichever is higher. It would also limit the trial venue to the location of the injury, unless the injury occurred outside the state.

New ruling backs tax rate

The Missouri Supreme Court sided against anti-tax activist Henry Lane on Tuesday and upheld the legality of the Columbia Public Schools’ method for setting its tax rate in 2001.

The seven-member court ruled unanimously in favor of the district and Boone County Collector Pat Lensmeyer.

Honoring the fallen

The notes of “Ode to Joy,” the heavy steps of friends and family, and muffled whispers and sobs were the only sounds inside Mizzou Arena on Tuesday afternoon. A gym so full of people is rarely so silent. A single-file line wound slowly down from the top of the bleachers, across the gymnasium floor and ended where Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden’s body lay in her dress uniform, adorned with a medal.

Before the service began, more than a thousand mourners had stopped to stand before the casket. Some left flowers on the floor beside it.

Family of the badge mourns

They did not even know Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden, but they still came to honor her.

Hundreds of law enforcement officials from all over the Midwest came to Columbia on Tuesday to offer their support for Bowden and her family.

In memory

Remembering a life of service

Law enforcement officers from across the Midwest came to Mizzou Arena on Tuesday to honor Officer Molly Bowden. Even with thousands of people in the arena, only quiet sobs and whispers could be heard during the funeral.

Services included a photo montage of Bowden’s life; speeches by her family, fellow police officers and Rep. Kenny Hulshof; and ended with an emotional salute to Bowden.

UM system gets slightly lower return on investment

The University of Missouri system’s endowment investment return for 2004 was below average compared to other institutions with similar total assets and was outperformed by the University of Kansas investment teams.

Filibuster stalls SMSU name change

JEFFERSON CITY — No love was lost in the Missouri Senate this Valentine’s Day.

A long-awaited debate over changing the name of Southwest Missouri State University to Missouri State University stretched late into the night Monday. Columbia Sen. Chuck Graham and other Democrats stalled a vote by holding the floor with a filibuster.

Rock Bridge student charged in Hickman vandalism

A Rock Bridge High School senior has been charged with vandalism in connection with damage done to the Hickman High School athletic field in early January.

Aaron Nichols, 17, was charged with second-degree property damage on Feb. 1.

Coping With Cuts

Each morning, Steve Mabbitt helps his longtime friend, roommate and boss, Tammy Jennings, out of bed.

He helps her to the toilet, bathes her, dresses her, feeds her and gives her the pills she needs to treat the cerebral palsy she has had since birth.

Senate committee advances measure against cloning

JEFFERSON CITY — Just before the state Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to vote on anti-cloning legislation Monday evening, Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, wiped tears from his eyes.

The bill, which passed 7-2, would halt cloning and somatic-cell nuclear-transfer research in humans, which some Missouri scientists say has the potential to cure many degenerative diseases.

Schools refuse cell-tower offer

The Columbia School Board turned down a proposed contract between Cingular Wireless and Columbia Public Schools for a cellular tower at West Boulevard Elementary School at its meeting Monday night.

Board member Elton Fay motioned to deny consideration of the contract and said he had concerns about leasing school property to private companies and the safety of cell phone towers.