Embalmers prepare for bioterrorism

The tools of the trade for funeral directors normally consist of embalming fluid, safety gowns and sterile gloves.

But thanks to the greater scrutiny now given to homeland security, Missouri funeral directors could soon find themselves wearing full-body biohazard suits when preparing a body for its final farewell.

Woman opposes lifting implant limits

A Columbia woman is set to testify today in Washington, D.C., before a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel that will determine whether silicone breast implants are safe enough for widespread use after 13 years of strict regulations.

Kathy Keithley-Johnston is the founder of Toxic Discovery, a national consumer advocacy group based in Columbia. Her testimony will be one of many from women who have had breast implants.

Architects dream of green park

Bob Berkebile, the principle of BNIM Architects in Kansas City and the architect for the Discovery Center Project at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, did not have a vision for the building when he came to Columbia this weekend. He left that part up to the community.

Berkebile said he signed on with Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in 2001 as the architect for the Discovery Center, a new visitor’s center that would overlook the part of the park. Meredith Donaldson, director of the Discovery Center Project, said Berkebile was selected to head the project because of his reputation for constructing “green” buildings.

Prescription coverage revised

JEFFERSON CITY — Tucked into legislation cutting tens of thousands of people from the state’s Medicaid rolls is a provision reconfiguring a program that provides prescription drug benefits to older people.

Missouri’s SenioRx program provides helps with drug costs to more than 17,000 Missourians age 65 and older who have too much money to qualify for the government-run Medicaid program for the poor but not enough to afford private prescription coverage. But the state is changing its program to mesh with a federal prescription drug benefit that is part of the Medicare program and is set to take effect in January.

Spring begins to bloom

Patrick and Laurie Hamilton spent Saturday morning browsing rows of flowers and plants at Strawberry Hill Farms with their son, Josh. Like many other Columbians, the Hamiltons see gardening as a fun and therapeutic activity.

“It’s fun. It’s therapeutic,” Patrick Hamilton said.

Newly elected councilwomen to take oath

Laura Nauser, touted as a business-savvy and growth-friendly real estate agent, will attend a swearing-in ceremony tonight that will make her Columbia’s new Fifth Ward city councilwoman.

Nauser won Tuesday’s election, beating Columbia attorney Gayle Troutwine and state epidemiologist Joseph Vradenburg.

Local panel denounces Social Security privatization

Shalia Lindsey does not gamble, and the prospect of her Social Security retirement savings being placed in a private account that relies on the stock market does not sit well with her.

Proposed budget cuts don't hit elected officials

JEFFERSON CITY - While lawmakers were cutting more than $380 million from social services, elected officials received an increase.

The Department of Social Services took the brunt of the cuts, which Republican leaders said were necessary to keep a balanced budget while increasing spending for K-12 education. But the state's $19 billion budget also calls for an extra $43 million for elected officials in the executive branch, an extra $2.5 million in state money for the judiciary and a $500,000 increase for the Public Defender Commission.

After searches, Police make three drug arrests

Columbia police made three drug arrests and issued a summons to another suspect after serving two search warrants Thursday.

Venue for prose

Columbia doesn’t fit the mold of a literary hub. Aside from the intense focus on a single institution, it’s not much more than a sleepy burg. But, in fact, writers are perfecting their craft and making their mark in Columbia and beyond.

Contributing to the success of a number of award-winning writers with local connections is MU’s creative writing program; the presence of a renowned literary magazine, The Missouri Review; and access to a great public library. Its compact layout and affordability make Columbia an easy place to live, allowing writers the freedom to focus on their craft.

Burning desires

T he overhead street lamps

begin to buzz, shining an orange glow over the small town of Huntsdale.

Stitching for a cause

MU Senior Emily Hemeyer designs clothes for more than just fashion and fame. During the past month, Hemeyer has worked to design six pieces that were showcased in Kaleidoscope: A KCOU Fashion Show at the Blue Note earlier this month. The proceeds of this event were donated to Rainbow House, an emergency shelter for abused and neglected children. Hemeyer’s pieces are unique because of the the method in which she makes them — the fabrics are hand-dyed and hand-sewn.

Taking life slowly

For the next 30 minutes, sit down and focus on this story.

Don’t turn on the television. Don’t check your e-mail. Don’t turn on the stereo. Don’t pace around the house. Don’t run to the fridge for a snack. Don’t pick up the phone.

High gas prices put summer plans at risk

As temperatures have steadily climbed upward, so too has the price of gas. And the latest government forecasts for the beginning of the summer travel season don’t offer relief.

Gas prices in central Missouri have increased 36 cents a gallon in the past two months, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. Gas was $1.82 per gallon Feb. 7 and $2.18 per gallon April 7.

Columbia stands to gain from clean power plant

Environmental Protection Agency rules are allowing Columbia to earn extra cash by selling excess sulfur dioxide allowances from its relatively clean coal-burning power plant.

The Columbia City Council on Monday authorized the sale of the excess emissions allowances. The credits could be worth as much as $6.3 million and could help the city cover an anticipated increase in the cost of its next coal contract.

Columbia schools receive award for high standards

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education awarded the Columbia Public School District its first Distinction in Performance Award during a banquet Friday night.

The Distinction in Performance Award is based on accreditation standards for schools in Missouri and recognizes districts that make consistent progress in all of the areas covered by accreditation standards. The award specifically looks at attendance rate, dropout rate and test scores such as the MAP test and ACT for high school students.

Church & Media

In January 1989, to commemorate the 23rd annual World Communications Day, Pope John Paul II addressed a large crowd in Rome on religion and the media. In particular, the pontiff urged Roman Catholics to start looking at media not as a revealer of scandal, but as a positive force for change.

“The question confronting the church today,” he said, “is not any longer whether the man in the street can grasp a religious message, but how to employ the communications media so as to let him have the full impact of the gospel message.”

Curators approve changes to faculty complaint system

A pilot grievance plan approved by the University of Missouri System Board of Curators at its Friday meeting in Rolla could clear the desk of UM system President Elson Floyd by redirecting complaints to an investigating officer. The plan will expedite the way the system hears faculty complaints and be implemented at MU for a three-year trial basis before it can be adopted at other UM schools.

MU’s Faculty Council had discussed the grievance policy for at least five years before the curators’ approval, council chair Gordon Christensen said. The revised plan would create a standing committee to hear grievances and create the position of a part-time investigating officer.

Two Columbia men charged in 2 of 3 shooting incidents

One Columbia man was arrested late Thursday and another early Friday in connection with two shooting incidents Wednesday near two day-care centers and an elementary school.

In a third incident Thursday night on North Garth Avenue, a car that police suspect was used in one of the Wednesday shootings was sprayed with bullets. Police said the three shootings are related.

Understanding Tragedy

After the flood waters recede and the coffin has been sealed, the eternal question remains: What kind of God permits tragedy, suffering and grief?

The answer is as varied as religious belief itself. But whether you view life as endless suffering, see God as infinitely unfathomable or hold that tragedy as a reflection of an immoral culture, the key to understanding is your faith.