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.

Columbia College to create Molly Bowden scholarship

To honor and memorialize fallen Columbia Police Officer Molly Bowden, Columbia College is expected to announce today the establishment of the Molly S. Thomas Bowden Memorial Scholarship.

Bowden, a 2002 graduate of the criminal justice program from Columbia College, was shot in the line of duty on Jan. 10. She died Feb. 10 from complications related to the shooting.

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.

Fire damages residence of suspects arrested for arson

A late-night fire Tuesday left one firefighter injured and caused an estimated $40,000 worth of damage at 601 Washington Ave., the former residence of three suspects arrested on first-degree arson charges in connection with fires at two Columbia Wal-Marts on May 5.

Thaddeaus Lee Harvey, 48, Alana DeCapua, 26, and Jason Riley Baucom, 31, remained at the Boone County Jail on Wednesday in lieu of bonds totaling $78,250. According to Gerald Garner, the owner of the property, Harvey, DeCapua and Baucom were evicted last week.

School funding formula progresses

JEFFERSON CITY — Negotiators from the House and Senate agreed Wednesday evening on a proposal to change the formula used to distribute state money to local schools. The revised proposal made it to the Senate floor several hours after the compromise was reached, and Senators planned to discuss the revised proposal into the evening.

On Tuesday night, the House debated its version of the bill, which seeks to address a lawsuit filed on behalf of more than half of the state school districts, for 10 hours as Gov. Matt Blunt watched from a gallery. The House eventually passed the proposal at 3:20 on Wednesday morning.

Bad weather lengthens dismissals

Students heading home Wednesday afternoon encountered more after-school traffic congestion than the usual when two tornado warnings and several thunderstorm warnings were issued in Boone County.

Heavy rain, hail — ranging in size from peas to golf balls — and flash flooding characterized the storm, said Suzanne Fred of Boone County’s Public Safety Joint Communications Center.

Pharmacists cite morals for pill bans

As arguments intensify nationwide over pharmacists’ right to dispense prescriptions based on personal beliefs, an unprecedented survey found limited access to emergency contraception, or EC, in Missouri’s pharmacies, particularly in rural areas.

In March and April, the NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Foundation conducted its Pharmacy Access Survey of 920 pharmacies in Missouri.

Methodists to pay $6 million in rape suit

A judgment in a civil suit over the alleged rape of a choir director has saddled the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church with a damage award that exceeds the conference’s total available cash.

A Greene County jury last week ordered the conference, headquartered in Columbia, to pay $6 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Teresa Norris, who alleges that the Rev. David Finestead raped her in Campbell United Methodist Church in Springfield on the night of March 25, 1998. Norris kept silent about the alleged rape for more than a month before contacting the city prosecutor, said her lawyer Daniel Craig. She never brought criminal charges against Finestead, who Craig said threatened and belittled Norris so she wouldn’t talk.

Bike journey gets risky with rain

When Bike, Walk and Wheel Week was created three years ago, the idea was to have people leave their cars at home so they could get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors through alternative forms of transportation.

It was not created with Wednesday’s weather in mind. I awoke yesterday morning and noticed that it was overcast, but I didn’t think much of it. Thunderstorms had been projected two days before and that had been a beautiful day.

Collegiate comeback

Less than two years ago, college officials said that without drastic changes, Stephens College would have to close within three years.

Wendy Libby, then chief financial officer at Furman University in South Carolina, was hired as president to turn things around. During a year-long strategic planning process, which culminated in October with a five-year “Renaissance Plan,” it became clear that the institution’s success lies in Stephens being Stephens.

Flat Branch plans to go smoke-free this month

On May 27, Flat Branch Pub and Brewing will go smoke-free.

General Manager Jim Lee said that all areas inside the building, including the employee break room, will be nonsmoking, but that guests will still be allowed to smoke on the outdoor patio. Currently, the bar area and the break room are the only two areas in the building where smoking is permitted.

Columbia's city planner search ends

The city’s nearly year-long search for a new planning director ended Tuesday when City Manager Ray Beck announced the selection of Timothy Teddy of the village of Lemont, Ill., to lead the department.

Teddy, 45, will begin his new job on June 20. He’ll be paid $83,000 a year plus a $300 monthly car allowance.

Wal-Mart run turns into afternoon adventure for cyclist

Today I embarked on an errand that many of us make, perhaps on a daily basis. You guessed it. The Wal-Mart run. This simple errand becomes quite the adventure on a bike.

I live on the corner of College and University avenues, so the Wal-Mart Supercenter is just a five-minute car ride down the road. I obviously knew this would make for a longer trip on the bike. My concern was the ongoing construction on Broadway.

Area briefly

Woman held in stabbing incident

A Columbia woman has been arrested on suspicion of stabbing another woman early Monday evening.

Responding to disaster

Dealing with disasters is nothing new for Columbia-native Jeff Chinn. In the past six years, he has volunteered in more than a dozen domestic disasters with the American Red Cross and has just returned from his first international aid experience.

Chinn spent two months in Sri Lanka helping victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami. Nothing he had seen before compared to the devastation in the small island nation, which was hit by 30-foot waves in the disaster.

Legislature split on seat belts

An unusual alliance between Democrats and rural Republicans in the Missouri House on Tuesday defeated a measure that would allow police to pull over motorists for failing to wear seat belts.

The House’s 91-69 vote stripped the seat belt language from state Senate Bill 221, a larger transportation bill that would also repeal a law requiring adult motorcyclists to wear helmets.

Schools evaluate teachers’ sick days

Margaret Haxel taught from a wheelchair for two years in the Moberly School District before retiring in 2004. She needed four surgeries — one to replace each hip and knee. After two of the surgeries, she needed help, and more time to recover than her sick days allowed. Both those times, she used her school’s sick leave pool to give her those extra days.

With a pool system, teachers can donate one of their sick days to a pool and then be eligible, if necessary, to use those sick days in addition to the days they have already earned. Haxel did not remember how many days she used from the pool the first time in 2003, but the following year she used the pool for five days.