House looks to cap state spending

JEFFERSON CITY — Leaders in the Missouri House are pushing a proposed constitutional amendment to cap state spending.

Citing the failure of a constitutional amendment requiring voter approval of tax increases greater than $75 million to curtail state spending, Republican leaders said the amount of state money spent per year must be limited by the Missouri Constitution.

Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY — At 78, Joseph Ratzinger seemed the ideal candidate for the role of a “transitional” pope — a short-term pontiff allowing the Roman Catholic Church to take stock of the legacy from Pope John Paul II’s dynamic 26 years.

Known as the Vatican enforcer of church teaching, the first German pope in nearly 1,000 years was the most suitable prelate to pursue John Paul’s conservative policies — including rejection of contraception, abortion, women priests and gay unions.

‘Parking lot guy’ remembered

It was a service that was as unique as the individual it honored. The 75 people in attendance ranged from students to senior citizens; they wore slacks, skirts and biker shorts. Perhaps the only thing that the group had in common was that they were all friends of the late William Findley Guffey.

Shakespeare’s seemed to be the perfect venue for Tuesday evening’s service. After all, it was the Shakespeare’s parking lot where Guffey truly made his mark on the community. It was there that Guffey, or Finn, became the local celebrity known as the “parking lot guy.”

Reconciliation was hallmark of last Benedict

While it’s too early to know how the new pope will lead the Roman Catholic Church, the name Joseph Ratzinger chose, Benedict XVI, might cast some light on the goals of the new pontiff.

Monsignor Michael Flanagan of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish said the new pope might have chosen his name because of an appreciation for Pope Benedict XV.

Two students earn national honors

Two Columbia area high school seniors have been named finalists in the 50th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Home-school student Carmen Pettus and Hickman High School student Suzanne Wetz are two of about 8,200 Merit Scholars that will be selected nationwide in the 2005 contest.

7 Columbia teachers win awards for teaching excellence

Twenty-seven years ago, Raymond C. Lewis Jr. and his wife, Jeanne Lewis, established the Columbia Fund for Academic Excellence Awards to give the school district’s greatest teachers the recognition that they deserve.

“My husband was on the school board and he felt that a person could be the best teacher in the world and not get the recognition that they deserved,” Jeanne said. “It (setting up the fund) was also influenced by the fact that we had three kids who went through the public school system.”

Iowa school district to look at allegations

Officials from Cedar Rapids Community Schools in Iowa said Tuesday they are working with a school district attorney to begin an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Rock Bridge High School Principal Bruce Brotzman, whom they recently hired to be their executive administrator for secondary education.

Cedar Rapids Community Schools hired Brotzman in March, after he resigned from Rock Bridge after six years as principal in January with little explanation about his plans. Brotzman is scheduled to begin work in Cedar Rapids on July 1.

Senate scrutinizes teenage drinking

JEFFERSON CITY — Teens could lose their driver’s licenses or possibly a spot on the football team if they’re caught drinking alcohol, under legislation that won initial Senate approval Tuesday.

The measure by Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, includes many deterrents to teenage drinking.

Housing consultant approved

Proposed redevelopment of public housing on Park Avenue will soon be sculpted from an ambitious idea into a definite plan. The Columbia Housing Authority has chosen a planning consultant to guide the long-gestating project.

The housing authority Tuesday approved a joint proposal from Swope Community Builders and the Applied Urban Research Institute, two branches of Swope Community Enterprises of Kansas City. The companies, which will work together to determine the feasibility of any Park Avenue redevelopment, have had experience with projects similar to the one envisioned for Columbia.

USA Today editor: ‘It is amazing we have fallen so far in the eyes of the public’

USA Today Editor Ken Paulson spoke with MU journalism students, professors and Columbia residents about the First Amendment during a forum Tuesday night in Neff Hall. Paulson graduated from MU in 1975 and four of his professors were in the audience.

Irwin Gratz, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, opened the forum by saying, “I appreciate the turnout because we need to talk.”

Rezoning of Range Line gets go-ahead

A request for rezoning of three tracts totaling 45 acres at Range Line Street and Blue Ridge Road won the approval of the Columbia City Council on Monday night.

With the council’s approval, Rampart, a development group, agreed to conduct a traffic study before submitting its plan for the development to the council. Many of the council members’ concerns regarded traffic safety and growth, but they said the need for commercial services on the north side of town was also important.

Kemper proposal rejected

The Boonville City Council voted seven to zero on Monday to reject a controversial offer to buy Kemper Military School.

After rejecting a proposal to go into closed session to discuss the proposal, the council, minus one member, voted unanimously to reject the offer without discussing the issue.

High gas prices strain state agencies

JEFFERSON CITY — In addition to aggravating Missouri drivers, the price of gasoline is costing Missouri state government a lot of extra money.

According to the energy center at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, drivers are paying an average of 25 cents more per gallon this month than last. The energy center placed the current average price at $2.17 per gallon, an increase of 54 cents from this time last year. Diesel gas costs are rising even higher, with an average of $2.23 per gallon, a 43 percent increase from 2004.

Wrestling with Monsters

Tina Holliday and her 9-year-old son Cole burst into applause,

excited that their favorite wrestler, Mil Máscaras, was

Police pot petition challenged

An MU student expressed his disapproval of Columbia police officers’ efforts to try to repeal the city’s recently changed marijuana laws at the Columbia City Council meeting Monday evening.

Bailey Hirschburg, 21, said it is inappropriate for the Columbia Police Officers Association to petition to change the 6-month-old law that passed with more than 60 percent of the votes .

Schools say little about principal

Rock Bridge High School officials don’t have plans to speak to students and parents about sexual misconduct allegations made by an MU student against Principal Bruce Brotzman. Board of Education members have been virtually quiet on the issue as well.

“As far as what happens next, that’s up to the central office,” said Rock Bridge Assistant Principal Kathy Ritter. “We’re just going to continue on having school at Rock Bridge.”

Accidental gunshot victim recovering at hospital

A Columbia man who was accidentally shot in the leg over the weekend is expected to be released in a few days. Police learned of the shooting when University Hospital alerted them that Brandon Robbins, 19, was being admitted for gunshot wounds.

Robbins told police that he was visiting an apartment in the 1400 block of Greensboro Drive and was examining a firearm owned by one of the apartment residents. He was shot in the right leg as he handed the gun back to the resident, police said in a news release.

Volunteering lifts weight off world

People who consider themselves realists keep telling me that the times we live in are no different than other times past. But I simply can’t remember another time when I have hesitated saying such things as crime doesn’t pay or assuring youth that they will not be molested by a church leader, without providing them proof to convince them. I understand that folks feel it’s important to paint a positive face on our national image.

The preponderance of criminal acts and evil deeds that fill the news is sometimes so overwhelming I’m afraid to trust many of the old truths I once took for granted.

Beating the Battle of the Bulge

Grant Elementary students gathered at the intersection of Bingham and Wayne roads with their parents on Monday morning, waiting to take their new bus to school. They looked over their shoulders as a big, yellow bus groaned down the street.

“I don’t guess he’ll be stopping,” said mom Debbie Hamilton.

CHA to pick Park Avenue consultant

The Columbia Housing Authority is close to hiring a consultant for its planned redevelopment along Park Avenue. Information about the two firms vying for the job will be made public after the deal is finalized.

Tonight, the housing authority is scheduled to hear from Richard Mendenhall, chairman of the authority’s housing task force. A subcommittee of the task force, composed of housing agency’s commissioners, representatives from the city and local professionals, has been evaluating the proposals since March, and Mendenhall is scheduled to share its recommendation tonight. The cutoff for proposals was February 25.