Striving for Normalcy

Every morning, Rebecca Wylie, 20, gets dressed, brushes her teeth and eats breakfast. A junior graphic design major, she goes to class, hangs out with her friends and downloads everything she can find by heartthrob John Mayer, just like hordes of other MU students.

But life requires something more of Rebecca.

A personal aide dresses and feeds Rebecca and brushes her teeth. She uses a motorized wheelchair to get to classes. A 12-inch mouth stick with a charcoal pencil attached allows her to draw.

My talent pool quite shallow in swimming

My husband never learned to swim. The main reason, he says, is because there was no swimming pool where he lived, a small town in Iowa. And he says he almost drowned in a neighbor’s pond when he got tangled in some undergrowth. His fear of water was so intense that he insisted that all of our children learn how to swim.

I can remember as a kid taking swimming lessons from the American Red Cross. I don’t remember the lessons, but I remember carrying a card stating that I was a junior lifesaver. Thank God I never had to save anyone.

Updating a Columbia Landmark

Wabash Station has led a quiet existence for the past 40 years since the shrill whistles of the old iron horses that once shuttled residents to and from McBaine fell silent in 1964.

The grinding of diesel engines now fills the 95-year-old rail depot as Columbia Transit buses carry commuters throughout the city. But the building, which the city bought in 1977 as a hub for its bus system, is showing its age.

Police get help with painful job stress

Dan Newman has seen the ugly side of law enforcement. He’s been on the emotional roller coaster that many police officers go through, feeling alert and alive one moment and tired and isolated the next.

The “high” you get while on duty, can quickly dissipate, said Newman, a mental health counselor and former assistant police chief in Tucson, Ariz. Eventually, the police officer becomes the job, and the job becomes the officer.

MU Council talks about controlling alcohol use

The percentage of MU students who consumed alcohol multiple times a week in the spring of 2005 was significantly higher than the national average, according to information presented at Thursday’s Faculty Council meeting.

Kim Dude, the director of Wellness Resource Center at MU, said faculty can help in reducing that statistic.

Charity earns prize for student

Tessa Vellek wants to be remembered like Shakespeare. She has a passion for writing and wants to be a journalist or an author. She dreams of winning a Pulitzer Prize. “I live to be published,” she wrote in her award application.

Tessa, 11, is one of 25 students nationwide between ages 10 and 18 to receive a 2005 Nestle Very Best in Youth award. The biannual program, sponsored by Nestle USA and Reading is Fundamental, honors students for their community service and academic records.

Two arrested in Internet investigation

Two men were arrested this week by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department under suspicion of enticing a child on the Internet.

Alan Becker, 50, of Jefferson City was arrested Monday for suspicion of attempted enticement of a child, first-degree attempted child molestation and attempted abuse of a child. On Wednesday, Michael Tincher, 44, of Sedalia was arrested for suspicion of attempted enticement of a child and attempted statutory sodomy.

Fulton grabs national attention in magazine

Fulton is more used to local attention for playing host to the county fair than any sort of national recognition, yet this year two nationwide publications are taking note of the town’s remarkable history and small-town appeal.

Dan Kaercher, editor-in-chief of Midwest Living magazine, mentioned the town’s unlikely past in a June 3 USA Today article about “10 great places to discover Midwest charm.”

Man implicated in Tuesday shooting surrenders to police

A 19-year-old Columbia man turned himself into Columbia police Wednesday afternoon after he was implicated in a shootout in a central Columbia neighborhood on Tuesday.

Joshua Lambert of 212 Unity Drive was charged with unlawful use of a weapon in connection with the shooting early Tuesday at the corner of LaSalle Place and Allen Street. He is being held at Boone County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Rally protests cutbacks

Rosanna Cassidy knows what it’s like to be homeless. While living in Springfield in 1994, she and her 2-year-old daughter lived in a shelter for three months before getting a helping hand from the federal government.

While in college, Cassidy was able to study and raise her daughter at the same time thanks to a $485 monthly rent voucher she received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 program. After college, she landed a job, and by 2003, she was earning enough money that she no longer required the government’s help.

Reality show sends teacher home

Brook Harlan, culinary arts teacher at Rock Bridge High School, had to relinquish the glow of the spotlight for the warmth of his hometown. Harlan, one of eight finalists in the Food Network’s reality show, “The Next Food Network Star,” was the first contestant eliminated from the series on Sunday.

Finalists on the show compete for their own cooking series on the Food Network. Although Harlan was eliminated from the series, he said he has no regrets.

Columbia worker killed while repairing utility pole

A Columbia Water and Light employee was killed and another injured this morning while repairing damage in Independence from Wednesday's storms.

Steve Ebert, 33, was electrocuted at 8:50 this morning when the boom of an electrical truck he was touching made contact with a 7,600-volt wire overhead, said George Morrow, Independence Power and Light director.

Ebert was working with a team of Columbia Water and Light employees to replace a utility pole that was damaged, cutting power to parts of Independence.

Columbia Water and Light has not had a worker killed since 1954, when Charles Pollack died from injuries suffered while repairing lights on a baseball field.

Ebert worked for Columbia Water and Light since 1993. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Charles Schouten, also of Columbia, was injured in the accident and admitted to Independence Regional Health Center.

- Brian Hamman

IT’S NOT ALL FUN IN THE SUN: A shallow pool of lifeguards

The city needs more lifeguards and could face staffing problems if it cannot find and hire enough certified staff this weekend.

“Right now, we’re understaffed,” Janel Twehous, aquatic supervisor for the city, said on Wednesday. “I am short at almost every facility.”

HARG likely to end Sapp protests

After twice preventing annexation requests by developer Billy Sapp, Harg residents probably will step aside this week and let the city decide whether to add 805 acres to east Columbia.

Renee Richmond, spokeswoman for Harg Area for Responsible Growth, met with Sapp representative Don Stamper on Wednesday to iron out the details of a statement of intent. If both parties sign, which seems likely, Harg residents will not petition a third time to keep the city from voting on the annexation request.

Democrats open new workplace downtown

Last week the Boone County Democratic Central Committee took what it considered to be the best step toward securing its place in Columbia’s ideological landscape by establishing a permanent residence downtown.

The committee thinks that there is an influx of more conservative voters as Columbia grows and attracts new residents.

Fulton woman’s death a homicide

Investigators have ruled a Fulton woman’s death a homicide after police found her body in her home Tuesday morning.

Fulton police found the body of 28-year-old Shawnda Reed in her home shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Real estate value increases by 19% in Boone County

Reassessment this year has boosted the value of Boone County real estate by about 19 percent to more than $1.5 billion, Tom Schauwecker, assessor, said this week.

Schauwecker’s preliminary reassessments of all properties in the county show an increase in value totaling $224 million. He predicts that number will rise even more once the values for personal property and state-assessed railroads and utilities are released at the end of the month.

New funds help repair ragtime musician’s home

For some, the J.W. “Blind” Boone home is just another building on Fourth Street in downtown Columbia. For Lucille Salerno and others, it’s a chance to pass along the history of ragtime music to future generations. “Boone was such a prominent figure during his time, and his influence in the musical world was extraordinary,” said Salerno, president emeritus of the John William Boone Heritage Foundation. “It’s important that we try to protect this history and make it available for the public to see.” In the past four years, the Blind Boone home has seen quite a facelift as part of ...

Book relates an active life

Some people’s lives are so compelling that they preserve their legacies in an autobiography. Ray Cope, 74, has written two.

“Well, the first book wasn’t really an autobiography, because I got bogged down into comparisons between Britain and the United States,” said the Liverpool native. “A lot of people wrote me and said they’d enjoyed the book but were sorry I didn’t include more personal details.”

Variability could produce better corn

More than 6,000 years ago, settlers in the Americas began to domesticate teosinte — the ancient ancestor of corn. Recently a team of scientists from three universities collaborated and now better understand the link between the grass-like teosinte, which is inedible by today’s standards, and its delectable modern-day offspring.

Native farmers and plant breeders have long improved teosinte, which grows naturally in Mexico and Central America, and corn by finding plants with desirable traits, such as a particular size or resistance to disease, said Michael McMullen, research geneticist with the agricultural research service of the USDA and an adjunct associate professor of plant sciences at MU. The seeds from such plants are then used to create the next crop.