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Pierpont looks for ways to expand

Pierpont residents might have the self-governance they were seeking, but the newly incorporated village still relies on Columbia for some assistance — like a conference room.

The Pierpont Board of Trustees held its first public meeting at Rock Bridge Elementary School on Wednesday night to discuss how to handle its new independent status.

City studies revamped public housing

The East Park Avenue Public Housing Development may face demolition if the Columbia Housing Authority gets its way. An ordinance under consideration by the City Council would authorize spending $50,000 to hire a consultant to assist with a project that proposes demolition of the development. The housing, which has 70 units, would be replaced with construction of “various types of dwelling units targeting mixed incomes; it could also possibly include a mixed use component with compatible commercial uses,” said Bill Watkins, assistant city manager, in his report to the council.

Court to evaluate probation rights

A Boone County case argued before the Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday could set new precedent on the rights of defendants in probation hearings.

The case, State ex rel. Paul E. Hoover vs. Ted Boehm, examines whether someone accused of violating probation has the same right to directly cross-examine witnesses as a defendant in a criminal trial.

Advocates want medicinal pot on the state agenda

Advocates of marijuana reform are hoping to follow up their success in Columbia with a statewide law to protect medicinal users of the drug. But while local residents overwhelmingly supported medical marijuana at the ballot box, taking the law statewide will be difficult.

“It will be an uphill fight, but it’s possible,” said Dan Viets, a board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “We clearly had a lot of support for Proposition 1 from Republican voters, and there are many Republicans — I’m sure — in the legislature who recognize the importance of marijuana as a medicine.”

Angling for new hires

Surrounded by hunting gear, a full-size mounted lion and red fox, and Bass Pro Shops’ NASCAR stock car, between 30 and 40 aspiring salespeople awaited their interviews on Monday.

“I’ve never seen a job fair like this,” Jerry Foriester of Columbia said. “It’s comfortable; it relieves some of the pressure.”

Petition calls for small-farm support

The Missouri Rural Crisis Center wants state lawmakers to put their mouths where their money is.

The Columbia-based advocacy group has started a petition drive calling for Jefferson City legislators to pass a bill requiring the state to buy 10 percent of the food consumed in government buildings and institutions from Missouri farmers.

T-Man changes rhythm of youths’ lives

It certainly isn’t Tyrone “T-Man” Raybon’s physical build that demands respect from the underprivileged youth enrolled in the Moving Ahead after-school program at the Columbia Housing Authority’s J.W. “Blind” Boone Center. His firm discipline, strict eye and intimidating speech exaggerate his 5-foot 7-inch, 152-pound frame.

Who’s to say what it is that draws children to “T-Man”? Maybe it’s his big heart. Perhaps it’s his confident gait. Whatever the inspiration, 20 to 25 arrive at the center every Monday through Thursday seeking a dose of his devotion.

A camera’s eye view of the Iraq war

Two photographers who have worked in Iraq for more than a year say their experiences have been dangerous but worthwhile, both to them and to the public.

“As photojournalists, we try to give a voice to people who don’t have one, and we go to places where the public can’t,” said Stefan Zaklin, a graduate student in photojournalism at MU.

Blunt’s search for chief of staff over

Gov.-elect Matt Blunt has selected his former Sunday school teacher, Ken McClure, to be his chief of staff.

“I’m very pleased that Ken McClure has agreed to continue assisting me in this effort,” Blunt said Tuesday.

Anti-annexation petition aims to halt Sapp plan

Boone County residents opposed to a 1,000-acre development of homes, condominiums and a golf course will not sue the city of Columbia over a proposed annexation of the property, said Patrick Cronan, the residents’ lawyer.

Cronan, who said he nonetheless believes such a lawsuit would succeed, said he expects to accomplish the same goals with a petition drive to force an involuntary annexation, which requires more land to touch the city than the current tract has.

The world according to Dud

Like any artist, Justin Lawson hears from people who don’t like his work. But the student cartoonist could end up having the last laugh.

Lawson, a 19-year-old sophomore at MU who signs his comic strip as Dud, is one of five cartoonists left in mtvU’s Strips contest — a nationwide contest of competing college comic strips on MTV’s 24-hour college television network. On the line is a development deal with United Feature Syndicate, which syndicates comics like “Peanuts,” “Dilbert” and “Pearls Before Swine.” The final votes were cast online Sunday at mtvU.com where the results will be posted on Monday.

Manners for dinner

Tre Knoche stood chivalrously by his chair, waiting for a young lady to spy her place card at his table.

Tugging at her floor-length, red velvet skirt, Tess Sims smiled as Knoche pulled out her seat. He tucked her snugly beneath the rectangular table’s rim.

Rededication, Hanukkah coincide

Phoebe Goodman picked up another page of browned photographs and squinted slightly, holding it close.

“That’s my husband!” she said, happy to have located him in the photo.

Program to help bars spot drunks

Missouri has implemented a new approach to combat drunken driving and underage drinking. The State of Missouri Alcohol Responsibility Training Program, called SMART, launched last Wednesday and is online and free for bar and restaurant owners and employees.

The program allows businesses to train employees online on how to spot a fake ID and when to stop serving drinks to an inebriated patron. Employees complete the program by taking a test that they can take as many times as necessary to pass.

Tests show U.S. math skills behind curve

WASHINGTON — Fifteen-year-olds in the United States don’t have the math skills to match up to peers in other industrialized nations, test scores released Monday show.

The latest international comparison also underscores an achievement gap in America: White U.S. students scored above the average, while blacks and Hispanics scored below it.

Blunt considering Medicaid overhaul

JEFFERSON CITY — A reorganization of Missouri’s Medicaid system must be seriously considered given recent reports criticizing its management, a spokesman for Gov.-elect Matt Blunt said Monday.

While no specific proposals have been developed, Blunt spokesman Paul Sloca said Blunt’s transition team has been looking at ways to improve Missouri’s government, including overhauling Medicaid.

Kindness of a few can better society

I reminded myself first thing this morning. It’s time to begin accepting the reality that within a few days we will be welcoming a new year. For some of us, a brief but painful glance across the shoulder will reveal in intricate detail all the promises we made to ourselves this time last year, facing us now, unfulfilled. Personally, I’m going to offer a huge sigh, a weary shrug of the shoulders and the profound reminder that, well, that’s life. So, OK, it will give me a foundation to build on for 2005.

One new reality I’m having a hard time adjusting to is that it’s difficult for me to focus on national news. I’ve never been one to embrace denial as a method of facing the future. Perhaps, the majority of Americans feel the need to believe that denying gays the right to marry and overthrowing Roe vs. Wade will restore the nation to the status intended by the founding fathers. Meanwhile, there seems to be a whole boxcar load of troublesome problems which are being ignored.

Hitting the jackpot

Sitting comfortably in his office in Boonville’s new 5,000-square-foot police station, Chief Joel Gholson remembers when the police force operated out of the basement of City Hall.

“It was awful,” he said. “We had all 20 of us coming in and out of the same door.”

Rural vote evens out Boone County

The splatters of the blues and reds on a map of November’s U.S. presidential election plainly show the political differences between urban and rural geographies. Big blue bursts of dense, Democratic, urban islands contrast sharply against sprawling red seas of suburban and rural Republicans.

The mix of blues and reds in Boone County is no different, with election results showing a particularly strong Republican edge outside of Columbia. However, a few observers see a blending of colors in the works.

Gatekeepers battle suicide, get help for those at risk

After a suicide, there are often those who blame themselves.

They saw something wrong. They didn’t know what to say. They didn’t know how or where to get help.

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