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Rocky roads in rearview mirror, MoDOT says

JEFFERSON CITY — Stakeholders in Missouri’s transportation system are starting the year with high expectations.

Missouri Department of Transportation executives met with contractors and state legislators Thursday morning for the annual transportation conference at the Capitol Plaza Hotel & Convention Center.

Spiritual movie premieres

The Missouri Theater will be one of more than 700 venues worldwide hosting the premiere Saturday of an independent film about a child with extraordinary spiritual abilities.

“Indigo” is directed by veteran Hollywood producer and filmmaker Stephen Simon, who said the movie is part of a new genre called “spiritual cinema.” Simon coined the term in his 2002 book, “The Force Is With You: Mystical Movie Messages That Inspire Our Lives.”

Bowden back in critical condition

Wounded Columbia Police Officer Molly Bowden's condition took a turn for the worse Thursday.

Bowden, who had had a low grade fever on Tuesday, developed a serious infection Wednesday that has left her fighting for her life.

Blunt: Cut Medicaid, boost school money

JEFFERSON CITY — Here come the cuts.

Gov. Matt Blunt delivered the State of the State address to the Missouri House on Wednesday night and proposed slashing the budget by $1.1 billion. The cuts include the elimination of 1,194 state jobs, the privatization of state services and the end of Medicaid coverage for “thousands” of Missourians.

Residents take early look at Sapp plan might sap school, bevy says

Half of Cedar Ridge Elementary School’s classrooms are already in trailers, and several hundred more students could be on the way.

As Columbia City Council weighs the merits of developer Billy Sapp’s plan to build 1,800 homes east of the city, a Columbia Public School District deputy superintendent met with area residents Wednesday night to discuss the potential impact of the development on nearby Cedar Ridge.

First Ward group, CPD collaborate

Members of the First Ward Ambassadors want to be known as mentors to youths in central Columbia. After tonight, however, they may be known more for their presence at a concert and celebrity basketball game.

The civic group that formed two months ago consists of African-American males who mentor youths at risk for dropping out of school, becoming fathers at an inappropriate time or facing unemployment.

Stolen firearms link seven thefts

Seven daylight burglaries of houses in Boone County in the last 10 days may be related, said Boone County Sheriff’s Department investigators Wednesday.

The link appears to be the theft of weapons. Electronics, jewelry and ammunition have also been reported stolen in the break-ins.

Workers’ comp under scrutiny

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s workers’ compensation program could be in for some major reconstructive surgery.

A bill sponsored by Sen. John Loudon, R-St. Louis County, would rewrite the state law and narrow the definition of a work-related injury. The changes are something that members of the Republican-controlled legislature and Gov. Matt Blunt say are necessary to fix a system that is scaring jobs away from Missouri.

Local lawmakers join committees

Area legislators received committee marching orders from House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, last week and said they hope to use their new positions to shape legislation in the interest of their constituents.

Perhaps most notable was the appointment of 21st District Rep. Steve Hobbs, R-Mexico, as chairman of the Conservation and Natural Resources Committee. Hobbs, who is in his second term, was a member of the committee during his first term in the House.

Columbia College receives $3.1 million

An alumna from Columbia College has donated $3.1 million to the university, which the school says is its largest gift to date.

Carol Vinkemulder Frobish, a 1949 English graduate of what was then Christian College, had made several donations in recent years to establish a scholarship in her name. The latest and largest donation was given to the college before Frobish died in September of 2003.

Team will teach therapy techniques

Psychologists Arshad Husain, Barbara Bauer and Kathy Dewein will spend the next two weeks in regions devastated by the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami to help local children deal with the psychological aftereffects.

Tsunami victims will struggle with grief, guilt and depression, according to Husain. Survivors need to stop trying to understand why the disaster happened, he said.

Students read to raise money for new playground

Jordan Crane, a third-grader at Cedar Ridge Elementary, spent Friday enjoying one of his favorite books — in his pajamas. He was right on task.

Students showed up in nightgowns and flannels that morning to participate in the school’s sixth annual all-day read-a-thon raising money for a new playground.

Limited sales could kill meth

JEFFERSON CITY — Over-the-counter cold medicine could soon be under lock and key.

In hopes of curbing methamphetamine production in the state, a set of bills would require pharmacists to record everyone who buys a product containing the meth ingredient pseudoephedrine. The chemical can be found in common cold medicines like Sudafed.

Governor labels education as top priority in budget

JEFFERSON CITY — Higher education funds would freeze under the proposed 2006 budget delivered by Gov. Matt Blunt at his State of the State address Wednesday night.

During the speech, Blunt said education is his top priority as governor, and he allocated one of the budget’s largest increases, $170.6 million, to it. The majority of the new funding will go to support elementary and secondary education and their programs.

Text of Gov. Matt Blunt's first State of the State address

Lt. Gov. Kinder, Mr. Speaker, Mr. President Pro Tem, distinguished state officials, judges of the Supreme Court, members of the General Assembly, reverend clergy, fellow Missourians:

I come before you this evening to share my vision for leading Missouri in a new direction....

New parole system offers early release

Joey Eads is not used to getting second chances, so when given the opportunity to participate in a new judicial pa-role program, he jumped at the chance.

Eads is one of six Boone County residents to participate in a new judicial parole system that was approved in Octo-ber and initiated in November 2004. It allows early parole for Boone County residents committed to the Boone County Jail for sentences longer than 60 days. In addition to the six inmates taking part, 14 more applications have been submitted for review, said Capt. Warren Brewer, detention director for the Boone County Jail.

Touched by a tragedy

Mihiri Desilva-Udawatta ended her speech at MU’s tsunami memorial service Tuesday with a Buddhist prayer, blessing those who perished in the Dec. 26 disaster.

Desilva-Udawatta, who spoke as a representative of Sri Lanka and lost a cousin and many friends to the wall of water, lent a personal voice to the global tragedy.

Study finds Columbia is financially fit

Columbia ranked as one of the country’s most “financially fit” metropolitan areas in a new study conducted by the InCharge Institute of America.

The study examined how well 314 U.S. metropolitan areas measured up in promoting financial fitness for their citizens. The criteria for financial fitness included real personal disposable income, employment opportunities, creditworthiness, levels of savings and refinancing activity.

Syncing to the moosic

The phrase “golden cow” generates looks of confusion from most, but to students at Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools, the Golden Cow is an event they look forward to the entire school year.

The Golden Cow is an annual lip-sync competition between the two schools to raise money for multiple sclerosis.

3 picked for UM Curators

Gov. Matt Blunt made three nominations Tuesday to the University of Missouri System Board of Curators to replace members whose terms expired Jan. 1.

Doug Russell of Lebanon, David Wasinger of

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