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Jacob quits labor panel for union post

JEFFERSON CITY— Former Sen. Ken Jacob, whose appointment to the state labor commission created a political firestorm, has left government to become executive director of one of the largest labor unions for state employees.

Jacob said Thursday that he resigned as chairman of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission because Republican Gov.-elect Matt Blunt had pledged during the campaign to remove Jacob from the position.

Job-skills grant aims to train youths

A state grant of $143,213 will help Columbia’s young people develop and improve work skills.

“We know that an educated work force is a key component to building a strong and viable economy,” said Rick Beasley, director of the Missouri Division of Workforce Development. “In order to achieve an educated work force, we must begin teaching key occupational and academic skills, social skills, workplace skills and thinking skills to our youth.”

Well-known book under scrutiny

BLUE SPRINGS — A group of parents has asked the Blue Springs school board to remove the award-winning book, “The Giver,” from student reading lists, saying it contains “negative” themes.

The district has included the book, written by Lois Lowry, on its suggested reading lists for eighth-graders for almost eight years without incident.

After the storm

Although the weather service registered only a trace of precipitation Thursday, freezing temperatures froze the snow and ice that fell Wednesday into a dangerous combination. Columbia street crews began clearing roadways late Wednesday afternoon after a wintry mix began and continued throughout Thursday.

“We had people that worked until 8 p.m. Wednesday and then two people who worked all night,” said Jim McKinnon, Columbia streets department superintendent. “By 6 a.m., they tried to get the whole crew out.”

Gonzales decries torture

WASHINGTON — Attorney General-nominee Alberto Gonzales, under scorching criticism from senators, condemned torture as an interrogation tactic Thursday and promised to prosecute abusers of terror suspects. He also disclosed the White House was looking at trying to change the Geneva Conventions that protect prisoner rights.

Pressed at his confirmation hearing by senators from both parties, the White House counsel defended his advice to President Bush that the treaty’s protections did not extend to al-Qaida and other suspected terrorists.

Man charged in stabbing death arrested

A Columbia man was taken into custody Friday and charged with second-degree murder in connection with Thursday night’s fatal stabbing of a 20-year-old man at a convenience store in Columbia.

Robert J. Barney Jr., 26, surrendered to Columbia police at 2:35 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of the former Osco Drug, 111 S. Providence.

Firefighters find body in burning car

Authorities found a body Friday afternoon when they responded to a call of a burning car inside a campus parking garage.

Shortly before 12:30 p.m., the Columbia Fire Department responded to a report of a burning car on the third level of the Maryland Avenue Parking Garage. Once firefighters extinguished the blaze, they found a body inside the car. Authorities did not release any details about gender or race of the victim.

Columbia escapes worst of ice storm

After two days of anticipation, the weather turned nasty just when it looked like Columbia would remain ice-free.

On a day when Columbia Public Schools let out early because of the threat of ice, freezing temperatures remained just to the north until about nightfall.

Harris rejects bid for House speaker

JEFFERSON CITY — Better cooperation between Democrats and Republicans was the overture of the Missouri General Assembly’s first day Wednesday as newly elected Speaker Rob Jetton (R-Marble Hill) brought the 93rd House session to order.

Gov.-elect Matt Blunt presided until the legislature unanimously elected Jetton, who is in his third term, as leader of the 163-member House of Representatives.

School buses in line for fuel-tax break

The Columbia school district could save nearly $60,000 a year if a bill passes to exempt school districts from paying Missouri’s fuel tax.

House Bill 65, proposed by Maynard Wallace, R-Thornfield, would exempt all school districts from paying a 17-cent tax on each gallon of fuel.

MU center to aid Asian youth hurt by tsunami

Syed Arshad Husain has a well-earned reputation for going into war-torn and disaster-stricken areas. He’s been to Pakistan, India, Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait. He’s been to Kosovo 14 times and Bosnia 25 times.

If the financial support comes through, he and a five- to six-member team from MU’s International Center for Psychosocial Trauma will leave Jan. 18 or 19 and travel to Malaysia and Sri Lanka, and then on to Pakistan, to deal with what could be called the second wave of trauma for the child survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Mo. teams prepare for relief trips

Even though the Rev. Jack Harris makes as many as 10 international trips each year, this one is going to be special.

Harris will lead a rapid response team of six people to Malaysia and Indonesia, two of the countries affected by the tsunami disaster. The team leaves Saturday.

Worth noting

Horizontal roof and window lines, beautiful grounds and community landmarks were all topics of discussion for the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission as it announced its 10 Most Notable Properties of 2005 on Tuesday.

Each year the commission accepts public nominations for properties that are historic and noteworthy to the Columbia community. The commission consists of seven members with varying backgrounds, including lawyers, property owners, architects and historians, commission chairman Brian Pape said.

80 mentors sought for at-risk youth program

West Boulevard Elementary has the money and coordinators to initiate its new mentoring program, but it still needs 80 volunteers.

Stand by Me is an initiative to mentor at-risk students at the Columbia school district’s first model school. West Boulevard is looking to assist minority and low-income students improve academic and social achievement, said Zona Sharp-Burk, one of the program’s coordinators.

Bass Pro opening slowed by rain, design changes

Bad weather and design changes have postponed the opening of Columbia’s 82,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shop for six weeks.

Originally slated to open in mid-February, the outdoor supply store on Vandiver Drive is now scheduled to open March 31.

Ruling makes goal of water standard urgent

A recent federal lawsuit could soon be making waves in waterways across the state of Missouri.

An April 2006 deadline for new regulations was undoubtedly the most pressing issue of the day. Wednesday for the Missouri Clean Water Commission. It met in front of a crowd that spilled out of a room that held 80 at the Holiday Inn Select Executive Center.

Wal-Mart foes question strategy

On Park de Ville Drive, near the site where Columbia’s next Wal-Mart Supercenter will be constructed, front lawns are still dotted with “No Wal-Mart on West Broadway” signs.

Less than 24 hours after Wal-Mart defeated residents in a bitter rezoning fight, some members of the losing side are beginning to question the methods used trying to fend off the world’s largest retailer.

Four-term rep takes job at MU

Former 25th District State Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson launched a new phase of her career on Monday.

Wilson’s new job as a “specialist” at MU gives her part-time duties in both the Service Learning and Provost’s offices that will pay her $50,000 a year.

City preps for storm

The trucks have been double checked and the staff is on call. But street department Superintendent Jim McKinnon does not expect that the incoming ice storm will cause many problems in Columbia.

“I think we are going to dodge a bullet,” McKinnon said Tuesday afternoon.

2005 legislative session begins

Education funding, taxes and tort reform will once again go before the Missouri Legislature as lawmakers gather in Jefferson City for the opening of the 2005 regular session today.

Gov.-elect Matt Blunt, finishing his term as secretary of state, will swear in members of the House and Senate. Legislators will then select leadership for the new session.

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