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Eyes on the Prize

At the Stuart House retirement home in Centralia, the question keeps popping up this time of year.

“Isn’t it about time for the babies?”

Paying for Columbia's growth

The crowds are creeping in. They stack up in longer lines at Schnuck’s and every other supermarket in town. They pack the trailers that orbit the city’s public schools. They jam Stadium Boulevard near Interstate 70 late on weekday evenings, adding five or 10 minutes to Columbians’ commutes from work.

Their presence transforms the landscape, fueling demand for the hundreds of condominiums and single-family homes that have cropped up east and west of Range Line Street and on both sides of Scott Boulevard over the past five years, erasing pastures and woodlands at a near-record pace.

About faces

“What an artist the world loses in me!” Emperor Nero pronounced before stabbing himself in the neck in A.D. 68.

Nero ended his life in the same dramatic fashion in which he ruled. The man who is said to have “fiddled” while Rome burned had ambitions to be a poet and artist although his fate, it seemed, was to be a despot. Nero’s identity took another turn, albeit in a much less dramatic fashion, 200 years after his death, when a sculpture of him was recovered from storage and reworked to celebrate a new Roman emperor. At the time, neither artists nor the public were overly concerned with accurate representations of prominent citizens. So, it was perfectly acceptable to simply add a stubbly beard to the cast of Nero’s fleshy face to capture a serviceable likeness of Emperor Gallienus.

French immersion preschool aims to give educational edge

Parents and young children in Columbia will soon have the opportunity to expose themselves to a foreign language by means of a French immersion preschool scheduled to start in August.

The private preschool, called La Petite Ecole, is Columbia’s first foreign language preschool and is offered to 3- to 5-year-old children.

Inter-faith panel discusses sexuality

The Faith-Based Outreach Committee, a branch of the Mid-Missouri Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Coalition, wants to dispel many of the myths and misunderstandings about homosexuals being circulated in local churches and promote positive discussion on the issue of homosexuality in the religious community.

The committee held its first meeting Saturday afternoon at the Columbia Public Library in an attempt to bring together people of all faiths. Members of several community organizations and churches attended.

Raffle rakes in more than $40,000 for officer fund

More than 200 people gathered in the bike-packed parking lot of Mid-America Harley-Davidson on Saturday afternoon to feast on hot dogs, attend a raffle and support the Officer Down Fund.

The company sold 560 raffle tickets for $100 each. Steve Tuchschmidt, co-owner of Mid-America Harley-Davidson, was overwhelmed by how many tickets were distributed and said the event raised more than $40,000 for the fund. The bike up for grabs was a 2005 Harley-Davidson Road King.

Annexation request faces opposition from residents

Some Boone County residents are upset over another possible annexation.

On Monday night, the City Council will consider a petition for voluntary annexation of a property on the southeast corner of State Route KK and River Hills Road.

Medicaid recipients protest cut proposal

JEFFERSON CITY — On Monday, Senate leaders will get their first look at a proposal to drastically cut Medicaid, the federally backed health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

On Friday, though, it was the people’s turn.

Passion for Piano

Tom Hutchinson is a zoologist, anthropologist, business man, carpenter and mechanic. His real passion, however, is in the music produced by his seven player pianos.

The 69-year-old Columbia resident started his unusual collection decades ago. Of the pianos he owns, three are in his workshop, one is in Mexico for refurbishment, and the rest — including a Nickelodeon made in 1913 and a combined player piano and player organ made in 1925 — occupy a 200-square-foot room in his house.

Finding a home through God

The chapel at The Bluffs, a Columbia skilled nursing facility, feels more like a living room than a church. The chairs are in a circle; a podium is pushed back against the wall, seemingly forgotten. Some residents come and go by wheelchair, others with the help of a walker.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, 10 women came to the chapel for a Bible study. A few dozed in their wheelchairs, while others chatted before class began.

ABOVE Columbia

Columbia’s unique and recognizable landscapes can be seen in books and on walls and postcards across Missouri. What isn’t seen, though, are photographs from the point of view of these well-known landmarks.

This is a different look at Columbia, from the places that have been admired, walked by and gazed upon.

Leading the way on lead removal

Thirty years ago, public health officials across the country sought to ban lead-based paints, a major cause of lead poisoning in children.

Today, the children who were once at risk for this hazard have become parents. But despite widespread public attention and millions of dollars in prevention efforts, lead poisoning remains a problem in houses that predate the 1978 ban on lead paint.

Married for 30 years, the best is yet to come

Monday is my 30th wedding anniversary. I’ve been leafing through several photo albums, reminiscing about my life as Mrs. Harl. The wedding, which took place on a Friday evening, was the second for both of us. We had a private ceremony at the church. I wore hunter green. The gal who stood up with me wore white (go figure!). I had my hair cut the day before at the barbershop downtown. It wasn’t more than a half-inch long anywhere on my head. My groom had beautiful blond, shoulder-length hair coiffed into a pageboy.

The reception was at a local hotel. About 50 guests were invited. Looking at the pictures, you might think we had a costume theme. My older brother, who was a security guard at the time, came during his dinner break and was in uniform. Another guest wore a scarf around her hair — kind of a peasant look. There was one gentleman who wore the loudest plaid sports jacket I’ve ever seen. It gave him the air of a used-car salesman (although he was a police officer by day).

Forecasting floods--now

A team of MU researchers is working on a new method of short-term weather forecasting that will enable meteorologists and hydrologists to better predict when and where heavy amounts of rainfall will occur.

The new model, known as “nowcasting,” could allow forecasters to issue flash flood warnings earlier and more accurately. Such floods are among the deadliest force of nature, killing an average of 140 people every year in this country, according to the National Weather Service.

Champion perfects call of the wild turkey

CENTRALIA — Chris Parrish is a different type of champion.

He doesn’t bask in the glory of his accomplishments. He puts family first. He hasn’t let celebrity get to his head. He will never go on strike or demand a bigger contract.

Lunch deal reconsidered

After hiring an outside firm to serve school lunches for the first time, the Centralia school board is wrestling with whether to continue using the private company next year.

The board voted 4-3 against renewing the contract with Opaa Food Management last month. But it has put the issue back on the agenda for reconsideration at its March 14 meeting.

Sabbath’s importance honored

Beginning at sundown on Friday, Jews from more than 600 congregations will gather across the United States and Canada to honor the spiritual importance of Sabbath, the weekly day of rest known in Judaism as Shabbat.

In Columbia, Congregation Beth Shalom will mark the event, Shabbat Across America, with a special service and Torah at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2615 Shepard Blvd.

Speaker touts religion as spark to creativity

Workplaces that are open to spirituality might actually be able to increase their creative output.

This was the message delivered by Douglas Hicks, an associate professor of leadership studies and religion at the University of Richmond, in a Thursday night lecture at MU. The lecture, “Is Creativity a Religious Concept?,” was sponsored by the MU Center for Religion, Professions and the Public. It also explored the origins of creativity in humans.

A second ‘Dream Job’ of a lifetime

Since Mike Hall began his job at ESPN, he’s interviewed sports heroes and met Olympic athletes he’s admired since he was a boy.

But just how big of a deal his instant success was didn’t hit him until he returned to his alma mater.

New annexation bid surprises Harg group

Harg-area residents learned of a new annexation request in their neighborhood at a meeting Thursday night with Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, and Boone County Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin.

Richland Road LLC has filed a request for Columbia to annex 147 acres, located east of the city on the south side of Richland Road, near the intersection of St. Charles Road.

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