Vaccination bill passes committee

JEFFERSON CITY — After several changes, the House Health Care Policy Committee on Wednesday brought mercury-free vaccinations one step closer to law.

The bill now awaits debate on the House floor.

Student queried about scuffle

A representative of the MU Office of Administrative Affairs interviewed a University of Kansas student Thursday who says he was assaulted by MU Police Chief Jack Watring during a scuffle over a sign at a March 6 basketball game at Mizzou Arena.

Chris Kaufman said he spoke with Lisa Wimmenauer, associate director for Administrative Affairs, in a private meeting. She also interviewed his friends Christian Green and Rich Littrell, who were with him at the game.

Center to kick off public fund raising

After nearly 14 years in the making, the Health Adventure Center will make its final push for the money it needs to open next year.

The interactive health-education center will kick off its community campaign on May 22. To date, the center has raised more than $3.7 million of its $5.2 million goal, said campaign spokeswoman Wendy Knorr. The center’s board of directors and its capital campaign committee have been raising cash for the past 18 months, she said. Most of the money has come from larger foundations and organizations.

Fee office in Columbia to transfer to local owner

The state-owned Columbia branch office of the Missouri Department of Revenue will shift to the private ownership of Columbia businessman Scott Atkins on Monday.

Atkins owns Columbia-based Tom Atkins Investments, which is named for his father. Both men are also involved in a series of enterprises ranging from investment banking to real estate development. Gov. Matt Blunt granted Scott Atkins a contract to operate the fee office as part of a larger promise he made during his State of the State Address to eliminate the revenue department’s 11 branch offices around the state.

Protester gets support

Rita Preckshot is used to standing alone every Wednesday afternoon at the corner of Broadway and Providence Road. As a group Columbia residents gather there every week to oppose the war in Iraq, Preckshot stands just south of the intersection holding an American flag to show her support for the troops.

On Wednesday, Preckshot was not alone, as she was joined by 15 new supporters, who came not only to support her position, but also her presence as well.

Chase breaks silence about Brotzman

Columbia Public School Superintendent Phyllis Chase said she was assured by Rock Bridge High School principal Bruce Brotzman in early November that an allegation of sexual misconduct against him was false, and that she decided her students and staff were not at risk.

“Let me assure you, there was no latitude on the part of this organization when it comes to the safety of staff or students,” Chase said in her first public comments since Brotzman resigned. “And at this point, from the information that I had, the safety of staff and students was never an issue.”

Group tries to save historic bridge

Advocates for saving the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge in Boonville said they will continue to fight for the bridge, despite Monday’s announcement that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will turn over the bridge rights to Union Pacific.

“We are not done fighting. They will have to drag us off the bridge,” said Cheryl Lixey, a member of the Save the Bridge steering committee.

Transcript of interview with Superintendent of Schools Phyllis Chase

Hickman principal chosen

Hickman High School is getting a new leader, a man known for stretching a buck and still creating innovative programs.

Mike Jeffers, principal of Truman High School in Independence, was chosen from a pool of more than 20 applicants to take the helm of Columbia’s largest high school with 2,048 students, Superintendent Phyllis Chase confirmed Wednesday in a meeting at the Columbia Missourian.

Blunt silent to critics of bill

JEFFERSON CITY — The outcry over Gov. Matt Blunt’s cuts to Missouri’s Medicaid program reached a new pitch Wednesday when eight wheelchair-using citizens chained themselves to the doors of the Missouri House. Supported by a chanting crowd, the protesters blocked the hall for two and a half hours before relenting after their demand to meet with the governor went unanswered.

Capitol police quickly cut the chain but made no arrests. Instead, they moved down the hall to guard the office of House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, where Blunt was meeting with Republican legislators.

UM prepares for budget cut aftershock

With the approval of $48 million in higher education budget cuts in the Missouri Senate on Tuesday, the University of Missouri System is among the institutions preparing themselves for a possible budget shortfall.

Joe Moore, director of media relations for the system, said the cuts were not yet finalized. UM hopes the cuts — $18 million of which would be directed toward the system — are not approved, he said.

State Democrats bite into Bush plan

JEFFERSON CITY — After waiting patiently for nearly four months, Missouri’s Democratic legislators said Tuesday that they plan to force Republicans to at least consider debating a resolution denouncing President Bush and his plan to privatize Social Security.

The action, which required 55 legislators to sign a petition urging lawmakers to hear House Concurrent Resolution 14, effectively moved the resolution out of the committee where it has been sitting since March and will force it onto the House calendar. The calendar is a list of bills and resolutions that eventually will be debated by representatives.

Floyd names interim head for UMKC

Stephen Lehmkuhle, the top vice president in the University of Missouri System, will serve as interim chancellor for the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for me, and hopefully I can bring to UMKC the day-to-day leadership they need during this transitional period,” said Lehmkuhle, whose appointment by system President Elson Floyd was announced Tuesday.

Executions trigger protest

The second execution in as many months, after more than a year without one, has some Columbia protestors discouraged about their attempts to end capital punishment in the state.

Twenty people showed up at the Boone County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon to hold signs protesting the execution of a man who was convicted of killing his grandmother for drug money. It was one of many demonstrations scheduled around the state.

Hear, Speak, See No Evil

Students at MU want their silence to be heard. A group of students refrained from speaking Tuesday in order to draw attention to their silence. The Day of Silence, sponsored by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center, was part of MU’s Pride Month. More than 75 students participated, remaining silent even in their classes and handing out flyers that explained their silence.

They are not speaking to represent all those who cannot speak for fear of discrimination. They are silent for all those who have been silenced by stigma, threats and assault.

Fayette school official under investigation

The Fayette R-III School District is investigating an incident involving three of its educators, including a high school principal, that occurred early Friday at Central Methodist University.

According to a Fayette Police Department report, officers were dispatched to Central Methodist at 12:59 a.m. Friday after a disturbance of the peace was reported.

Senate passes cuts to UM system

JEFFERSON CITY — The state Senate has approved $48 million in cuts to higher education.

About $40 million of the cuts would come from the operating budgets of the state’s public colleges and universities, with $18 million coming from the UM System.

Catering to Kosher

Beth Lawrence began thinking about Passover back in January.

The eight-day holiday, which started Saturday, celebrates the exodus of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. Practicing Jews must adhere to special kosher dietary restrictions during Passover — a difficult task for college students with small kitchens and even smaller budgets.

State is quiet on officials’ firings

The director and deputy director of a major division of the Department of Public Safety were fired last week, and no one wants to talk about it.

Keith Fuller, director of the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, and his deputy, Lori Baskins, lost their jobs April 19. Department spokeswoman Terri Durdaller would not comment on the details of their dismissal, saying the Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law would not allow it.

Biodiesel plant brings new energy

In the town square in Mexico, Mo., plans were announced Monday to build Missouri’s first farmer-owned biodiesel production plant.

The new plant, which was announced by Mid-America Biofuels LLC, and the Missouri Soybean Association, will have the capacity to produce 30 million gallons of biodiesel each year.