Watershed talk planned

The Bonne Femme Watershed Project is hosting an open house this evening to promote conversation between those living in the watershed and those charged with protecting it. The event will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at Little Bonne Femme Baptist Church, just off U.S. 63 south of Columbia.

Terry Frueh, watershed conservationist for the county planning department, said the purpose is “to hear what people who live in the watershed have to say, and to hear their hopes and concerns for the watershed.

Area Briefly

The environmental impact of widening Interstate 70 will be the subject of a public hearing from 4 to 7 tonight at Knights of Columbus Hall, 2525 N. Stadium Blvd.

The hearing is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Transportation, which will display maps and information but make no formal presentation.

Open mic revisits message of Dr. King

Pauline Hendrix stood high above Columbia’s city lights, arms pressed against her sides, eyes closed softly behind thin rimmed glasses and sang “His Eyes on the Sparrow.”

The Stephens College sophomore was among about a dozen performers Tuesday night at a gathering that referenced spirituality, struggle and song to spread the message of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the penthouse level of Hugh Stephens Library at Stephens College.

Audiology chief is named at hospital

Laura Jacobs was appointed chief of audiology and speech pathology at the Truman Veterans Hospital. She will replace Jon Deal, who retired in December.

Jacobs’ new duties include managing the entire audiology and speech pathology clinic. She will also manage patient flow and appointments, as well as see patients part-time.

Driver left dead after explosions

An unidentified female died Tuesday in a car explosion, according to a Columbia Police Department news release. The car was heading southbound and stopped at a stop sign at Pannell and Smith streets.

Witnesses say they heard a loud explosion and then noticed that the passenger compartment of the vehicle was on fire. Police say the car continued southbound on Powell St., collided with a utility pole and exploded again.

MSU bill sent to House for vote

JEFFERSON CITY — A highly contentious meeting of the House Higher Education Committee ended Tuesday with a 10-1 vote to send to the full House a bill dropping the regional designation from Southwest Missouri State University’s name.

The bill is now two votes away from the desk of Gov. Matt Blunt, who is eager to sign it into law.

Latest Sapp annexation plan to face petition

Harg-area residents decided Tuesday night to petition against Billy Sapp’s latest 169-acre voluntary annexation proposal.

Members of the Harg Area Residents for Responsible Growth said at a meeting that Sapp’s scaled-down proposal is nothing but a steppingstone to accomplish his initial plan.

Hunters allowed access to tracts

Hunters concerned about losing their right to use land annexed into Columbia got a break Monday night.

The Columbia City Council passed an ordinance at its meeting that will permit hunting on 20-acre tracts of privately owned, newly annexed land.

Agricultural research threatened

Proposed federal budget cuts for agricultural research funding could have a significant effect on MU programs, said Chancellor Brady Deaton Monday.

“Depending on the severity of the cuts, this could have a very pronounced impact,” Deaton said.

Spiritual recentering

The beginning of John Fonville’s new life began with the end of his sister’s.

When Luticha Griffin opened the doors of Shalom Christian Academy on June 9, 2003, she fulfilled her dream of starting a Christian school in Columbia. Two weeks later, however, she died of unknown causes because an autopsy was never done.

City, county leaders train for disasters

A weeklong training exercise in Maryland last week challenged 70 city and county leaders to deal with a scenario in which a tornado whizzed through the community, damaging businesses, historic buildings and public facilities.

The event in Emmitsburg, Md., was facilitated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The training also involved two other simulations: a winter weather disaster and the twister’s aftermath.

Politics make trust a thing of the past

The latest scandals concerning radio commentator Armstrong Williams and other journalists accepting money from government agencies and administration officials to promote their issues, I’m sure, comes as no surprise to anyone. In recent years, journalists have become so buddy-buddy with politicians that much of the public is so jaded that they no longer expect fair and objective reporting at the national level. It only takes one read or one listening session to determine with which party the writer or speaker is affiliated. After the what, when and where of a news story, a lot of us are ready to fold the paper or tune the set out because we are unwilling to stick around for the spin. This is one more way our world has changed. Consequently, we are becoming less trusting every day. I agree with a man I spoke to last week who is a former elected official. He said he didn’t like the person he saw himself becoming. He said that in the past, there had always been politicians he liked better than others, but he admitted he had never experienced such active dislike toward certain political viewpoints as he did these days.

Political tolerance does not seem to me to be as easy as it once was. Personally, I have become proficient at changing the subject whenever certain topics of conversation arise. I’ve always been a person who would rather save the friendship than win the argument. And I have been criticized a great deal on that score. Unfortunately, I have found that certain political opinions reflect other character traits that make maintaining some friendships these days undesirable. I have to accept that sharing the same planet will be the full extent of my relationship with some individuals, many of whom consider themselves Christians. Heretofore, we may have been able to discuss our differences with mutual respect. I find that is no longer possible.

Concerns raised on MU proposal

With MU’s development of guidelines for incentive compensation, some faculty fear individuals will be enticed to increase their pay by fee-for-service activities — resulting in less emphasis on their educational mission.

“This is changing the way we do business here,” said Faculty Council member Eddie Adelstein, associate professor of pathology.

Budget scrutiny to begin

JEFFERSON CITY — The General Assembly is in the early innings of this year’s budget season, and politicians are swinging away.

While Gov. Matt Blunt is batting a thousand for his young career — the Springfield Republican has never lost an election — the 34-year-old rookie governor faces a new test in his first budget.

Aiming to make a thin mint

More than 100 vehicles were loaded with highly addictive sweets and sent into the community this weekend. Eight thousand cases, with 12 boxes of goodies per case, left the Fry Wagner warehouse headed for Columbia’s neighborhoods. The operation has been almost a year in the making and could stop at your door soon.

Columbians, your cookies are coming.

Events converge to push SMSU bill

If you’ve watched the World Series or Super Bowl, you might have noticed athletes donning T-shirts and hats proclaiming their teams world champs — often just moments after the game ends.

To look good in victory requires some advance work by an entrepreneur.

State Farm has plans to pay for improper car titles

Columbians who have bought used cars from State Farm Insurance Co. since 1997 might receive compensation later this year. Their eligibility for compensation could be a surprise because many owners unknowingly bought cars that had been stolen or salvaged after being totaled.

State Farm, the country’s largest home and car insurer, will pay $40 million nationwide for totaled cars it sold without proper titles. It signed an agreement with attorneys general in 49 states and the District of Columbia to acknowledge the title errors. Indiana made a separate deal. The company is working with motor vehicle departments to locate an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 cars.

Pictures of the Year

For the next three weeks, Columbia and MU resume their tradition of hosting judging of the previous year’s best photographs.

For the 62nd year, the Pictures of the Year International competition will once again challenge visual media figures to honor colleagues within the industry.

Spaniel honored at Westminster

Debi Bell and her prized show dog, Willie, share a peanut butter parfait at Dairy Queen each time he wins a Best in Show ribbon. Willie, an 8-year-old English toy spaniel, has eaten plenty of ice cream during his career because he’s been in the top five of his breed for five years running.

Willie recently added his second Best of Breed award at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Seat belt law would get tougher under bill

Missouri drivers who are fined for not wearing their seat belts must first be caught in another traffic violation.

But if legislators pass a new bill, police will be able to stop motorists solely for not wearing a seat belt, which national studies have shown could save thousands of lives and millions of dollars in medical costs.