Funds to propel diversity plans

MU academic divisions might receive more money for having an improved diversity plan, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said Thursday.

At MU’s Faculty Council meeting, Deaton said he would allot an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million to be divided among the university’s divisions, but he would not grant the funds until he sees an improved diversity plan.

Investigation: Officer’s shot accidental

Columbia Police have released the name of the officer whose department-issue Remington .12 gauge shotgun discharged into the floor of a north Columbia duplex on April 16.

Officer Paul E. Dickinson, who has been with the Columbia Police Department for less than a year, faces disciplinary action for improper conduct, Capt. Sam Hargadine said. Although Hargadine would not say what disciplinary measures are being taken, he said Dickinson will not be dismissed.

Smoking ban for Columbia restaurants gets airing at subcommittee meeting

Jason Ksepka said he recently spent an entire Saturday in bed with a crippling headache, the result of consecutive nights out on the town at Music Cafe and Soco Club. He attributes the pain to the smoke-filled air at both venues.

“I was immobilized with a crippling headache. I could not do anything,” he said. “I couldn’t work; I couldn’t even sit in my bed and do my homework that I need to do because it was painful to look at the paper.”

Travelers declining at airport

The declining number of passengers at Columbia Regional Airport and possible ways to reverse the trend were the subject of a presentation to the Airport Advisory Board on Wednesday afternoon.

The airport has seen passenger numbers drop from 41,000 in 1994 to 18,000 in 2004. The situation has caused some fear about potentially losing commercial air service. Airport Superintendent Bill Boston responded to those fears Wednesday.

Police seek motive in death of 77-year-old

Investigators are looking for a break in the case of a 77-year-old woman who was strangled inside her rural Boone County home earlier this week.

Boone County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Tom O’Sullivan said there is no evidence that anyone forced their way into Zelpha Turner’s home at 6060 N. Route VV or took anything from the home. The victim’s granddaughter found Turner lying in her living room shortly before noon Monday.

Funding change advances

JEFFERSON CITY — A House committee approved an overhaul of how Missouri funds public schools on Wednesday, a change that Republicans say would balance the underfunded and highly criticized system. The plan, however, wouldn’t take full effect for more than seven years.

One day after Gov. Matt Blunt demanded action, suburban Republicans, who last week blocked the bill, reversed their votes. The shift proved strong enough to muscle the plan, which Blunt says will fix the state system, onto the House floor.

Remembering Kent State

First came the tear gas. Second came the 61 bullets. Then came the loss.

Columbia Peaceworks Director Mark Haim lost a childhood friend, Jeffrey Miller, on May 4, 1970, when Miller and three other Kent State students were killed by Ohio National Guardsmen after protesting the Vietnam War and the U.S. invasion of Cambodia.

Honored Heroes

Dave Thomas could not hold back his tears when he met the two MU students who were the first to help his daughter, Columbia Police Officer Molly Bowden, when she was fatally wounded in the line of duty almost four months ago.

Thomas received the Columbia Police Department’s highest commendation — the Ribbon of Valor — in Molly Bowden’s honor and then hugged the two men, Michael Thien and Kevin Johnson. After the Wednesday afternoon ceremony concluded, he wrapped his arms around them again.

Elementary school student detained

Boone County sheriff’s officials confirmed Wednesday that a Cedar Ridge Elementary School student was detained by juvenile authorities on a felony charge of knowingly burning and a misdemeanor charge of delinquent behavior.

The charges stem from an incident that is believed to have occurred between 8 and 9 p.m. on April 27.

MU breaks ground for research facility

MU broke ground Wednesday morning on a one-of-a-kind research facility that reflects the university’s interest in becoming a leader in life-science research.

The National Swine Research and Resource Center will be the only research facility of its kind.

Strangling death under investigation

The Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad is helping investigate the death of a 77-year-old woman who was found strangled to death in her home north of Columbia on Monday.

An autopsy performed Tuesday afternoon found that Zelpha Turner died from asphyxiation caused by strangulation, said Sgt. Tom O’Sullivan of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies found Turner in her home near Prathersville shortly before noon when responding to a 911 call with firefighters from the Boone County Fire Protection District.

Field seeks new learning model

Field Elementary school is dedicated to literacy, which is why it applied for a $74,955 grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in early April. Field expects to receive the grant this June, and it has big plans for the money.

School officials plan to implement an improvement program called the Professional Learning Community model — a model already in use at Oakland and Jefferson junior high schools, and Rock Bridge High School.

Oakland Junior High teacher honored

Government and social studies teacher Joshua Johnson inspires and transforms the lives of his students at Oakland Junior High School.

For that, he was awarded as the Teacher of the Year in a surprise presentation Tuesday morning.

Residents rally to save bridge

“Save the bridge! Save the bridge!” chanted a crowd gathered Tuesday afternoon in front of the Copper County Courthouse in Boonville. Longtime residents of Boonville, families, and even Boonville Mayor Danielle Blanck’s dog, Heidi, came to show support to keep the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge part of Boonville.

“It is a part of history. It is one of a kind. There are not very many bridges like it in this country,” said Andy Melendez, a Boonville resident who attended the rally.

Legislature closing in on budget for 2006

JEFFERSON CITY — The General Assembly is poised to begin floor debate today on a state budget for fiscal 2006 that eliminates Medicaid benefits for 90,604 people and restores money for higher education that had previously been cut by the Senate.

The $19.1 billion spending plan is the product of negotiations in a conference committee of representatives and senators. The full House and Senate face a Friday deadline for approving the budget.

High-definition launched at KBIA

Thirty-three years after its debut as the first National Public Radio station in mid-Missouri, KBIA/91.5 FM has reached yet another broadcast landmark. On Tuesday, KBIA launched the first high-definition radio service in mid-Missouri.

“A lot of people are calling it the biggest change in broadcasting since FM started,” said Roger Karwoski, KBIA’s assistant manager and director of engineering.

Lawsuit challenges random drug tests

Legal concerns have been raised over a policy by the Missouri Department of Mental Health to allow random drug testing of its 9,800 employees.

Columbia attorney Dan Viets filed a federal lawsuit against the department Monday, claiming the policy violates employees’ constitutional rights. Viets, who also represents the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, filed the suit in the Federal District Court for Western Missouri on behalf of mental health employee Amy Proctor.

Columbia honors its top volunteers

Teresa Kight, a Tree Keeper for 2 years, has sacrificed many Saturday mornings to yard work — and it’s not even her own yard. Kight goes out to various Columbia parks and plants trees, mulches and prunes in order to keep recreation areas maintained.

Brian Pape and his wife, Joy, have been involved with Columbia’s Adopt-A-Spot program since 1997 and maintain a part of the MKT Trail stretching from downtown to Stadium Drive.

Blunt sides with cities on school funds

JEFFERSON CITY — The stalled proposal to change the formula used to distribute state money to schools got a big push from the governor Tuesday, but the force of the effort to attract reluctant suburban lawmakers made some supporters uneasy.

Gov. Matt Blunt threw his weight behind a proposal that would cost almost $1 billion over seven years. Blunt, who had limited his comments to support for reshaping the formula, sided with suburban and urban legislators in a fight over how to account for wage differences across the state.

Making time for God

MILLERSBURG — It was a late Saturday night for Dennis Peterson, but Sunday morning he roams around the entrance of Millersburg Baptist Church warmly greeting people as they arrive.

Several minutes later, he is energetically preaching the gospel in front of the congregation.