Coming back strong

When the common flu spread to his heart in 2001, life seemed over for 50-year-old Rodney O’Neil.

“I thought for sure I was going to die,” he said.

Prayers of politics

One morning in late April at 9:30, bells echo throughout the halls of the Missouri Capitol to alert legislators that the day’s session is about to begin. Men and women in suits dart out of offices, walking briskly to the Senate and House chambers on the third floor. They weave in and out of a group of fourth-graders, who tread along, gawking at their surroundings.

Most of the suited figures stop at the chamber doors to discuss their course of action for the day’s business with colleagues. Only a few venture into the quiet, where the Rev. Carl Gauck steps up to the podium to deliver the morning’s prayer. As the nine senators already at their desks stand, Gauck reads Psalms 143:10: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.”

Return to the car marked by new perspective

This may be the final entry of the Bicycle Diaries, but I don't think it's the end of my using my bike for my transportation needs.

The car will become part of my life again. As enjoyable as the Wal-Mart run on Tuesday was, at some point I will need to get more items than what a backpack can hold.

Thousands learn joy of no car

Bikers and walkers stopped by Boone Tavern early Friday morning to grab some free breakfast as they traveled to their destinations.

Boone Tavern was one of 10 breakfast stops around Columbia set up for Bike, Walk and Wheel Week, a week-long celebration of alternative transportation.

Fair focuses on women’s health issues

A steady flow of women made their way through the tables of information booths at the start of Thursday’s women’s health fair.

The Columbia/Boone County Health Department sponsored its first, four-hour health fair, held at the health department to celebrate National Women’s Health Week this week, said Rebecca Roesslet, social services specialist and health fair coordinator.

Storm water specialist hired

It’s not just water under the bridge for Boone County engineer Sandra Wilbur. Handling that water is her job.

Wilbur, 37, was hired by the Boone County Public Works Department in early May to be an infrastructure engineer. She’ll spend most of her time monitoring storm water and helping the county develop storm water rules that will bring the county into compliance with mandates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Six schools get a piece of ‘Prize Patrol’ funds

Making someone’s day is what the Columbia Public Schools Foundation does best, and Jan Summers knows firsthand.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday, a small group of the foundation’s members arrived at Oakland Junior High to give Summers, the school’s media specialist, a $5,000 check to place 200 new nonfiction titles in Oakland’s library.

Roads hold hidden danger

Today’s story is about how biking almost killed me. Although it’s an exaggeration to say that I looked death in the eye, the week of biking has started to take its toll on me.

The effects from previous days are becoming a little more apparent: a sore posterior, weary legs and an achy lower back.

Reviewing Storm Standards

Fewer severe thunderstorm warnings and a new definition of severe weather could be the result of a National Weather Service experiment in western Missouri and Kansas.

Currently, the threshold for a severe thunderstorm warning is at least three-quarter-inch hail or winds in excess of 58 mph.

Area Briefly

Interim public works director is appointed

Chief Engineer John Glascock has been named interim public works director, temporarily filling a slot left open by the retirement of 19-year veteran Lowell Patterson.

Neighbor of strangled woman charged

A neighbor of the 77-year-old woman who was found strangled in her rural Boone County home has been charged with murder, linked to the crime scene by a bloody footprint, authorities said.

Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Crane charged Dearl W. Jackson, 47, with first-degree murder Friday afternoon.

It's graduation time; do you know who your speaker is?

Todd Barrett is going to his graduation ceremony tonight, but he’s not happy about it.

“It’s so long, and it just doesn’t excite me,” said Barrett, who is graduating with a master’s degree in accounting from MU. “I’m just going because my parents want me to go.”

General Assembly passes school funding legislation

JEFFERSON CITY — Voting nearly along party lines, the Missouri legislature on Thursday approved a school funding formula that would cost $832 million over more than seven years.

The formula, which was a top legislative priority for Gov. Matt Blunt and leadership in the House and Senate, became one of the most partisan issues of the session. Senate Democrats walked out in protest during debate on the negotiated version of the formula, and debate in the House over the same language was shut off after about 30 minutes.

Arthritis panel emphasizes need for public education on disease

Because arthritis affects more than a quarter of Missouri’s population, panelists at an event at MU on Thursday said the common condition needs a more prominent place on the public agenda.

About 60 people attended “America’s Emerging Health Care Crisis,” a panel discussion about arthritis and the public health issues surrounding it.

Abortion bill stalled in Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — The legislature’s anti-abortion majority on Thursday revived a multi-pronged measure to try to discourage abortions — minus a provision to which stem cell researchers and Gov. Matt Blunt have objected.

While some lawmakers lauded the legislation, leading anti-abortion lobbyists criticized it for not going far enough in its restrictions. Abortion providers, meanwhile, said it would limit access to abortions and potentially squeeze some clinics out of business.

New bill emphasizes job creation

JEFFERSON CITY — The House gave final approval on Thursday to a bill that creates new incentives for companies to add employees in Missouri.

Public works director retires

Lowell Patterson got far more than the obligatory cake and punch that many people receive at their retirement parties. Dozens of well-wishers, including numerous colleagues, friends and family members, packed the Columbia City Council chambers Wednesday afternoon to help Patterson celebrate the end of his 19 years of service as the city’s public works director.

The reception included proclamations from the city of Columbia, the City Council, the governor’s office and the Missouri General Assembly in recognition of Patterson’s 40-year career.

Committee to hold forum on racial achievement gap

Teachers, administrators and community members are taking an active approach to closing the educational achievement gap among Columbia's black students.

A multicultural committee from Jefferson Junior High School and the Community Committee for Educating Black Youth in Columbia will meet at 7 p.m. tonight at St. Luke's United Methodist Church to educate the public about the achievement gap, discuss what's being done to fix it and how people can further the efforts to close the gap.

Hickman Review spotlights high school poets, authors and artists

Sixteen-year-old Noah Myers took on the weighty topic of war for a journalism class assignment that led to his prose piece, “When Will We Ever Learn?”

A Hickman sophomore, Myers said his piece was written “in the height of the presidential election, when Vietnam was a strong issue,” and later published in the annual Hickman Review, a literary magazine designed by Hickman students.

Honoring exercise despite physical disability is focus of fitness awards

Becky Beach, chairwoman of the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health, is passionate about encouraging healthy habits, even when it comes to those who are already in admirable physical condition.

“Aren’t you guys hungry?” she asked, wandering through the room at the council’s Fitness Forum on Tuesday evening, motioning to the table full of fresh fruits and vegetables.