Curators to hold closed meeting

Three days before its regularly scheduled bimonthly meeting, the University of Missouri System Board of Curators will hold an emergency closed meeting Monday to discuss unspecified personnel issues.

The closed meeting on the MU campus was announced Friday. State law allows a public governing board to close its meetings for exemptions that include the “hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting of particular employees.” Any vote taken must be disclosed within 72 hours of the meeting.

Muggles, wizards swarm to midnight book release

The line for the newest Harry Potter book stretched along the lawn north of University Bookstore and spilled into the parking lot at the book-release party at 10:30 Friday night. Multi-colored spotlights splashed onto the pointy-hatted and cloak-clad revelers.

An Eastern screech-owl named Lucifer perched on a witch’s forearm. Children twirled wands and sipped punch labeled potion on the candlelit lawn, awaiting the midnight release of J.K. Rowling’s latest installment in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

Community Faces: Tom Oleski

Customers at Columbia’s Schnucks don’t mind waiting in line a few extra minutes if it means getting their groceries checked by Tom Oleski, a tattooed, short and wiry 50-year-old.

When regulars or people using credit cards come through his line, Oleski tries to call them by name. “Customers like that,” Oleski said. “Being called by name is a personal touch.”

Study looks at workers with arthritis

More than half of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis patients are unemployed within 10 years after diagnosis. Diana Baldwin, an occupational therapy researcher at MU, is looking to reverse that trend.

“This particular study is innovative in that we are moving a step beyond current research,” Baldwin said. “Our goal is to see if people who have arthritis and who are working, with information and with plans, can work longer, can be more satisfied with their job and can decrease some of the potential for injury.”

This grammar stuff drives me (or I?) crazy

When I wrote the column about six weeks ago discussing the misuse of the English language, I had no idea I had opened Pandora’s box. I have received dozens of e-mails from disgruntled language buffs each voicing disdain regarding one or more linguistic sins committed by the unknowing or uncaring people in this country.

One reader’s skin crawls when hearing, “I could have went …”

Inquiry into O’Neal death intensifies

The Boone County medical examiner will begin her own investigation today into the death of MU football player Aaron O’Neal.

Valerie Rao said she plans to interview everyone present at the practice. There were 11 players, three athletic trainers and eight strength and conditioning coaches, including strength and conditioning director Pat Ivey in attendance.

O‘Neal funeral set for Monday

Memorials have been scheduled for MU football player Aaron O’Neal in the St. Louis area where he grew up.

Visitation will be from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Archway Memorial Chapel, 111 Taylor Road, in Hazelwood.

Second discussion focuses on tax usage

Judy Johnson came to the City of Columbia’s public tax information session at Smithton Middle School with a purpose.

“We don’t want any more rezoning in our neighborhood until our roads are straightened out,” Johnson said.

City begins reworking zoning codes

The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission began the process of updating the city’s zoning codes for commercial uses at a work session Thursday evening.

The revisions could ultimately alter the way in which the Columbia City Council considers rezoning requests from the public.

‘Harry’ casts his sixth spell at midnight

Eight years after Harry Potter’s debut, excitement over the fantasy tale hasn’t vanished under an invisibility cloak. At the stroke of midnight tonight, J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” will magically appear in bookstores everywhere for distribution to wizards, witches and muggles alike.

This latest installation is the sixth book in a seven-set series and Kathy Richmond of the Columbia Barnes & Noble expects the latest tale to be the best selling title in the series.

Guilty plea in opossum case

The last of the MU fraternity members involved in a September 2004 fraternity prank in which 20 opossums died pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of animal cruelty and a related charge of possessing wildlife without a permit.

Former Alpha Gamma Rho member Zachary Famuliner, 20, of Carrollton, pleaded guilty to two out of three charges in front of Boone County Circuit Court Judge Larry Bryson as part of a plea agreement.

‘Big Muddy Blues’ author to discuss future for river

Journalist and author Bill Lambrecht wants to talk about why right now, during the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition, is a good time to think about how we treat the Missouri River.

“Lewis and Clark explored the river and saw the promise and possibility of the creatures and the land,” said Lambrecht, Washington correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and author of “Big Muddy Blues,” published in April.

Ham it up

Kids and adults gathered at the Boone County fair Thursday clutching their hams like babies and standing in a long line to get them checked in.

About 300 participants are expected to enter their hams into the ham judging, which is at 7 a.m. today.

Open house to discuss local park’s programs

An open house set for Tuesday at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park will give the public an opportunity to ask questions and check up on the progress of a planned visitors’ center.

The park holds an open house every year.

Study pursues long-term kidney transplant patients

The University Hospital kidney transplant team and a researcher at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing are looking at ways to help kidney transplant recipients keep their new organ longer.

Cindy Russell, an assistant professor and researcher at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, and a six-member team are beginning a three-year study on how kidney transplant patients take their medicine.

People utilize Web site to vent their grief over O’Neal’s death

Messages were piling up on Thursday in a guestbook set up on a University of Missouri Web site for people to share memories of football player Aaron O’Neal and offer condolences for his death.

Fans, family members, classmates, teammates and alumni have all left messages on the site at As of Thursday afternoon, more than 100 messages were posted on the Web site.

School leader: ‘He was a magnet’

CREVE COEUR — Aaron O’Neal’s high school football coach doesn’t have an answer to why his soft-spoken former star running back died shortly after an MU voluntary practice Tuesday.

“I am still trying to figure the lesson we learned from this,” said Bob Bunton, football coach at Parkway North High School.

City Web site goes offline because of unpaid bill

Oops. Columbia’s Web site,, was unavailable to many city residents Thursday.

While MediaCom subscribers could still access the Web site, others received a page advertising the “future home of a registered domain.”

Homeland security expert tells MU students to think outside of the lab

The director for response operations at the White House’s Homeland Security Council urged MU students to think of science outside of the laboratory during a Thursday night speech. Important to remember, Lt. Col. Julie Bentz said, is science’s political side.

“It’s what helps get money for the research that you do. It gets technology out of basic science into use,” Bentz said.


A state appeals court denied a motion to dismiss a $6 million civil judgment against the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church, which is the governing body for Methodist churches in the state. An article on page 5A Thursday incorrectly identified the group as the Missouri United Methodist Church, which is not a party to the lawsuit.