Mid-Mo. delegates find NYC safe, fun

Stephanie Huett said her first impression of New York is that it’s like Fort Knox.

The 14-year-old is in the Big Apple this week to attend the Republican National Convention with her mother, Denna, a Columbia resident and Missouri delegate to the convention.

Tax increase would pay for county construction

Boone County property owners’ tax bills will rise next year if voters approve a $15 million bond issue. The bond would pay for the addition of two floors to the county courthouse, construction of a new two-story office building and extensive work at the county government center.

The proposed expansion plan, which was discussed Friday at a meeting of elected county officials and department heads, would add office space for circuit court and county government offices. Renovating the first two floors of the county government center to expand existing office space would cost about $800,000, while finishing the third floor would cost an additional $1.3 million.

Maxwell seeks longer life for Senior Rx

JEFFERSON CITY — Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell on Monday called for a coalition of legislators and advocacy groups to help extend funding for the Senior Rx program. Without more money, tens of thousands of seniors would be left without prescription drug coverage effective Dec. 13, 2005.

Maxwell was speaking at a meeting of the Senior Rx Commission.

Trustees discuss hospital expansion, to be completed by November 2005

The expansion of Boone Hospital Center remains on target, even as hospital officials plan the addition of a fourth medical office building.

The Boone Hospital Center Board of Trustees discussed those construction projects at its monthly board meeting Monday.

Va. governor speaks in Rocheport

ROCHEPORT — About 30 local residents joined Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia for a roundtable discussion Monday at Laborers Local Post 955 organized in support of the Kerry-Edwards campaign, and voiced strong concerns on rising health-care premiums and what they see as an increasingly-bleak economic outlook.

Almeta Crayton, First Ward representative to the Columbia City Council and a participant in the roundtable discussion, highlighted strains on the middle class that she said are the result of a drab economy, and the perceived “lack of conversation about double-digit unemployment” in some parts of Missouri.

Kneading people at home and in Greece

A Columbia massage therapist is on her way to Athens, Greece, to work with athletes at the 2004 Summer Paralympics.

Elisabeth Norton has been selected to be one of 60 international massage therapists who will travel to Greece next week. The Paralympics are similar to the Olympics, except that athletes have a physical disability.

Chancellor’s last days

MU Chancellor Richard Wallace spent his penultimate day in office in a few meetings and attending to last-minute details.

Although Wallace will stay with MU for at least two more years as a fund-raiser for the $600 million “For All We Call Mizzou” campaign, he said Monday he’s sad to leave his job as chancellor.

One Read author’s visit will cap month full of discussions

Though Barbara Ehrenreich won’t appear in Columbia for another month, her words have already been making an impact in the community. Her book, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” was the selection for this year’s One Read program, as well as reading programs at MU and Stephens College.

The events scheduled for the One Read program in Columbia begin with a celebrity book talk with Associate Circuit Judge Chris Kelly on Sept. 7 and culminate with the author’s visit Sept. 30.

Schools address racial gap between students

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that school segregation was unconstitutional.

Black students were free to attend the same schools as white students and learn the same lessons. But something unexpected has happened during these past 50 years. The lessons being taught to black and white students are the same, but an achievement gap between the two races remains.

Temps lack knowledge of benefits

Like most of us, Daryl McKenzie gets a lot of mail.

So when the Express Personnel Services temporary worker received a notice from his employment agency offering affordable health insurance, he didn’t realize it could reduce the cost of his premium by more than 40 percent.

Private schools set own teacher standards

Private schools abound in Columbia — each providing something a little different to its students.

One thing different from their public school counterparts is that each private school decides what qualifies its teachers.

War in Iraq takes toll on approval ratings

NEW YORK — War is hell on a presidency. And it plays havoc with presidential campaigns.

President Bush led the nation through the Sept. 11 attacks, against the Taliban and into Iraq — three defining moments that have brought his political fortunes full circle to the same middling job approval rating he had Sept. 10, 2001. At the opening of his nominating convention, supporters can’t help but wonder how much stronger Bush would be politically had he kept the war on terrorism out of Iraq.

Inside the shrine

The Imam Ali shrine contains the tomb of the father of Shiite Islam. It is also the physical center, where religious authority is interpreted and filtered out to Shiite mosques and madrassas all over the world. The shrine and the old city of Najaf are to Shiites what the Vatican is to Catholics.

My first night in the shrine, I moved through the courtyard fielding invitations to eat from the men circled in groups around large plates of rice with a bit of lentils. We talked, ate, slept and bathed with them. We were also under siege with them.

Fighting abuse with song

The sunshine was a welcome sign for the organizers of the Celebration of Women’s Song. The fund-raising event for The Shelter, a Columbia organization that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, was washed out by the rain Saturday. But Sunday’s sunshine brought out a big crowd and more than 100 performers for the cause.

“It is something that involved community people do for us,” said Leigh Voltmer, the executive director of The Shelter.

Political bashing hurts human spirit

There doesn’t seem to be much difference these days between a job as a political reporter or a job cleaning out horse stalls. If anything, muckraking the stalls would be more productive.

Somehow, a political candidate’s position on the issues is far less important than any dirty secrets that can be discovered. Of course, the news organizations insist they are only telling the public what it wants to hear, and it is true that most of the time the candidate who slings the most dirt wins.

Swift boat vet speaks on Kerry’s behalf

Gene Thorson, a swift boat crewmate of Senator John Kerry’s during the Vietnam War, delivered a deeply personal account of what he called John Kerry’s “outstanding instincts and leadership skills under fire” at a press conference Sunday sponsored by the Kerry-Edwards campaign. Other local military veterans joined him in front of a crowd of approximately 50 people to deliver a scathing indictment of the Bush administra-tion for its handling of veterans’ affairs and for the recent attack ads by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Local venues show controversial political films

In an election year, politics is everywhere, and this includes the movies. And after the controversial success of "Fahrenheit 9/11," the pace of political-film releases has quickened.

"The Corporation," which opened Wednesday at the Ragtag Cinemacafé, is the latest in a string of such political films released this year.

Bringing liturgy to college

Dawn-Victoria Mitchell was in her next-to-last year of Methodist seminary when she found a new calling.

Mitchell missed the liturgy she had experienced at her Roman Catholic high school in Massachusetts. Neither Methodism nor Catholicism offered the spiritual fulfillment she sought.

Up All Night series offers alcohol- free fun for MU students

Out of breath from making a music video - a version of "Survivor" by Destiny's Child - Heddie Jones and her friends recapped their performance.

"The video's good to look back on and see how I was in college," said sophomore Arica Henderson. She and Jones teamed up for the video as part of Mizzou Up All Night, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday at Brady Commons. The annual event, part of the Mizzou After Dark alcohol-free series, drew an estimated 1,500 students.

Low test scores leave school in a lurch

Some question the value of MAP examinations.

The numbers aren’t adding up for teachers, parents and administrators at Derby Ridge Elementary.

The school’s total student population met the state’s 2004 proficiency goals on the Missouri Assessment Program exams, which test students annually in communication arts and math.