Deliberating expansion

The look of downtown is going to change significantly with the expansion of the Boone County Courthouse, but what those changes will be and when they will happen remains uncertain.

County officials have said for years the courthouse must be expanded to accommodate the demands of a growing community. The Boone County Commission appointed a Space Needs Committee last fall to determine the best way to achieve that goal. The committee has been meeting since October and offered this past week a set of options and recommendations the county commission can consider.

Committee cuts college funding by 5 percent

JEFFERSON CITY — Although shielded from cuts in the House, higher education has received some trimming in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The committee’s budget proposal, approved Thursday, would make a 5 percent cut to public universities and colleges. This would mean a $17.5 million cut to the University of Missouri System.

Traffic safety stats improve, experts report

WASHINGTON — The highway fatality rate last year reached its lowest point since records were first kept nearly 40 years ago, the government projected on Thursday.

The rate dropped even as the total number of traffic deaths inched up because more drivers were on the road, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

Organizers gear up for Earth Day

Thousands of potential journalists will attend Columbia’s annual Earth Day Festival scheduled for Sunday. They won’t be armed with press passes or tape recorders, just thoughts and opinions.

Editors from, an online publication written primarily by the public, will have a booth at the festival where computers will be available for people to take on the role of “citizen journalist.”

Sheriff wins approval for gun safe

Sheriff Dwayne Carey took another step this week in what he says is an effort to make the department safer.

Carey won approval Thursday afternoon from the Boone County Commission for a budget amendment to allow the purchase of a gun safe. Carey took over as sheriff on Jan. 1. While examining the department, he discovered that a member of a firearm committee was storing about 15 department-owned guns at a private residence.

Stephens Lake rezoning hits setback

A proposed zoning change to accommodate a restaurant development across Hinkson Creek from Stephens Lake Park should be rejected, the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission recommended on Thursday.

Developer Jay Lindner has asked that the city rezone 8.15 acres on the corner of Broadway and Trimble Road for planned commercial use. The only restaurant plan on file for the land is for a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop.

Missouri House passes crime legislation

JEFFERSON CITY — The House passed legislation expanding police arrest powers and criminal sentences on Thursday, despite objections from black lawmakers who feared it would encourage racial profiling by law enforcement officers.

Of particular concern to black lawmakers was a provision in the bill making it a crime not to identify oneself when asked to do so after being lawfully stopped by police.

Area Briefly

Rotating winds spark tornado alarm

Although tornado sirens blared throughout southern Boone County on Thursday afternoon, Kevin Wolfe, operator 1 at the Columbia/Boone County Joint Communication, said no tornado touched down.

School board to hold closed talk

With Columbia School District officials virtually silent regarding sexual misconduct allegations against Rock Bridge High School Principal Bruce Brotzman, school board members are scheduled to meet behind closed doors today in a hastily called special meeting to discuss personnel issues.

If the session will include a discussion of the Brotzman incident, board members aren’t saying.

Doctors advocate openness

More than 50 medical students and professionals gathered Wednesday at MU’s School of Medicine to discuss end-of-life ethical issues as part of a nationwide dialogue.

Visiting monk rallies for support from MU students

Geshe Sonam Tenpa, a Tibetan Buddhist Monk living in exile in New York City, asked MU students for support Wednesday in his campaign for Tibetan freedom.

Tenpa traveled to Columbia to speak to students about his experiences with persecution and to ask for help in the campaign to free fellow Tibetan Monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche from prison.

Faculty Council to vote on plus/minus grading system

For more than two months, the issue of plus/minus grading has lingered on the agenda of the MU Faculty Council, awaiting action.

Today, however, a vote is scheduled on whether to change wording in the Faculty Handbook to make plus/minus grading optional for faculty. Council chairman Gordon Christensen said Wednesday he does not think the resolution will pass.

Fair to boost summer workers

In the wake of recent disturbances and concern about developing positive opportunities for Columbia’s youths this summer, Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman and First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton have drafted a letter that will be sent to hundreds of local businesses in the next few days.

Hindman said the letter is the result of the city’s efforts to match young people with employers. It urges local businesses and volunteer programs to provide staff to interview prospective employees or volunteers at the upcoming Mayor’s Summer Youth Opportunities Fair.

Formula aims to fix state’s gap in funding

Revamping the formula used to distribute state money to schools has been a long and winding road for Charlie Shields, the Senate floor leader who served 16 years as a school board member.

Shields’ proposal, which cleared the Senate last week, calls for school districts across the state to spend at least $6,117 per student and would base state support on the characteristics of a district’s students rather than tie it to local property tax receipts.

KCOU in line to broadcast MU football season

Aspiring broadcasters and roommates Brendan McCaffrey and Nick Hoette often find themselves practicing their craft while playing video games at home.

They’ll have a much bigger opportunity to call games this fall. McCaffrey and Hoette will be part of the KCOU/88.1 FM broadcast team that will call Missouri home football games for the first time.

Graham eyes Talent’s seat

JEFFERSON CITY — Democratic state Sen. Chuck Graham, a symbolic leader of stem-cell research supporters, said he will probably challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, who has endorsed legislation to criminalize a certain kind of stem-cell research.

Graham, D-Columbia, who would be his party’s first candidate for the 2006 Senate race, is paralyzed from injuries he suffered in a car accident while a teenager and has helped lead the effort against Missouri legislation that would ban a type of stem-cell research commonly known as therapeutic cloning.

Whatever floats your boat

GLASGOW — From Stump Island Road, the 8,000 square foot white and blue steel building looks like an unpretentious warehouse. But the gravel drive and creaking gangplank lead to a complex unlike anything else in this Missouri River town.

At Rooster’s Marina, boaters can buy Cheetos at the convenience store and fill up their gas tanks after a long day in the sun. Or they can take a shower and join other visitors at the Driftwood Restaurant upstairs and treat their palates to caramelized goat cheese appetizers and sauteed duck as they sit at antique English pub tables.

Ban on execution sought by group

Paul Hinshaw has opposed the death penalty since it was reinstated in Missouri in 1989. After years of working in the low-income housing business, Hinshaw said he has seen how the death penalty disproportionately affects people who can’t always afford good defense attorneys.

“As a businessman with a conscience, I believe in this stance,” said Hinshaw, a managing partner of Hinshaw Family Partnership.

Ashland-area development proposed

Take hundreds of newly proposed homes, throw in a small commercially zoned area and then add discussions about annexation. The result is yet another classic subdivision proposal for Boone County.

The county’s Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote Thursday night on whether to recommend approval of Shadowridge Estates, a new 230-home development that would be built about a mile west of Ashland at the intersection of Route MM and Route M. The developer, Miller Properties, is working with Ashland officials on a pre-annexation agreement that would eventually bring the new subdivision into the city.

Gender equity sought

A crowd of about 15 people rallied in support of equal pay for men and women at the Capitol on Tuesday. The rally, which recognized Equal Pay Day, was attended by elected officials, representatives for Missouri women’s rights groups and concerned citizens.

Most of those in attendance wore red clothing to symbolize that salaries for women are “in the red” compared with salaries for men. They also passed out PayDay candy bars to legislators to symbolize the need for pay equity.