McCaskill shifts message to promote Kerry victory

JEFFERSON CITY — Challenging an incumbent Democratic governor in a key presidential swing state, Democrat Claire McCaskill thinks she has hit upon a winning message: If Democrats dump Gov. Bob Holden, she can help carry them to victory in the fall.

With Missouri’s Aug. 3 party primaries drawing near, public opinion polls show McCaskill in a dead heat with Holden, and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in a similarly close race against Republican President Bush.

Renovating downtown

A walk in Columbia’s historical Downtown District reveals buildings with styles ranging from art-deco to classic brick facades, pre-Civil War to modern glass simplicity. While each building has its own history, together they create Columbia’s Downtown District.

“It’s literally the heart of Columbia,” says Arnie Fagan of the buildings that create downtown.

What they think


Recreation: a sensation in Columbia

There is an opening in the trees at the corner of Providence and Stewart roads with a small sign designating the entrance to the MKT Nature/Fitness Trail. Down the trail, amid the trees, the sound of the cars traveling by is drowned out by the leaves blowing in the wind and birds chirping. It’s hard to believe that you are in the middle of Columbia.

The MKT Trail is just one of the many recreation opportunities in Columbia. The city park system consists of 2,300 acres, more than 20 miles of trails and an Activity and Recreation Center that opened in December 2002.

A diverse mix

The shelves of movies at Ninth Street Video in Columbia look like a miniature model of the city itself. Films from Russia, Vietnam, Africa and Latin America share the space with mainstream blockbusters and works from black and Hispanic directors.

The store’s owners keep up the variety based on what consumers are buying.

An artsy town

A bronze animal “Jamboree” adds character to Courthouse Square and the 10-foot abstract bird “La Colomba” takes flight outside the Columbia Public Library. These sculptures are two examples of how Columbia demonstrates its penchant for art through public efforts designed to bring culture and beauty to the city.

Percent for Art is the program responsible for publicly funded art such as a sculpture at the city Activity and Recreation Center. The program was started in 1997 and allows for 1 percent of the budget of city construction or renovation projects to be set aside for on-site public art. The Columbia City Council made the allowance because it felt that art enriches and improves the city. It also gives artists an opportunity to demonstrate their work in public places, not just in private galleries.

Once a Tiger, always a Tiger

When it came time for Jill Villasana to choose a college, the decision was a no-brainer, she says.

Villasana grew up in Columbia, the daughter of die-hard MU football fans. “My parents had season tickets since before I was born,” she said. Her mother and aunt are both MU alumna. Her family always took part in Homecoming celebrations, which gave her a taste of Greektown traditions years before she would become a Delta Gamma sorority member.

Students learn value of education, community service

Anne-Marie Foley, MU director of Service-Learning, is a firm believer that the function of institutions of higher education is not only to educate students but to make them into active citizens.

Foley decided to put this belief into action in 1990, when she began discussing with students and colleagues how to increase community involvement. As a result, the Office of Service-Learning at MU was established in 1995 and now supports more than 2,100 students in 92 classes.

Learning through faith

For students looking for a spiritual home away from home, campus religious organizations offer a multitude of ways for new students to worship, make friends and get involved. Here’s a sampling of the organizations that are active on or near campus:

The Baptist Student Union, on campus at 812 Hitt St., will host New 2 MU, an annual social event for incoming freshmen, on Aug. 21.

RealLife, the BSU’s weekly student gathering for worship and fellowship, meets Thursdays at 7 and 9 p.m. A special Welcome RealLife at 7 p.m. on Aug. 26 will include food and socializing. “We hope to give students a taste of what our community is like,” said Kelly Lewis, associate campus minister.

40-car pileup at the county fair

Sometime during the second heat of the Boone County Fair’s Demolition Derby, Mark Winscott’s disfigured mass of an automobile finally died. Up until that point, Winscott and his spray painted chariot of destruction refused to give up. The first time, he got stuck on a mud barrier that formed the outline of the course. His car still ran, but in a demolition derby, the cars are like sharks. If they’re not mobile, they’re considered dead.

New Methodist bishop hopes to further church unity

He may be taking on a higher leadership role, but Robert Schnase, the newly appointed bishop of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church, has no intention of giving up his commitment to direct involvement at the local level.

“I hope to be able to leave the office and put on the work clothes from time to time,” Schnase said. “I love hands-on work projects. I want to help local congregations to be stronger, more vital and confident in their mission as disciples of Christ.”

Collegetown, U.S.A.: Getting to know MU

You stand on the north end of Francis Quadrangle and take it all in. This is MU.

The white dome of Jesse Hall reflects the sun. Two red squirrels rest on the bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson. A couple sits on the base of one of the MU Columns, books open. On the surrounding grass, a group of students tosses a Frisbee.

Collegetown, U.S.A.: Getting to know Columbia

Columbia’s new logo says the city is “too dynamic to fit into a short tagline.” Columbia is, in fact, more diverse, artsy, green and young than other cities its size. While much smaller than big brothers St. Louis and Kansas City, Columbia still offers enough sizzle to keep big-city lovers satisfied.

Columbia boasts 23 baseball fields, 27 soccer fields — who says Americans are ignorant about soccer? — 35 tennis courts, 22 volleyball courts and 40 parks. Not the outdoors type? Then explore the 24 movie screens, 21 museums and art galleries, more than 100 churches, 372 restaurants and 15 shopping centers.

Voters to define marriage

After the passage of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Missouri was one of 39 states that passed similar laws that banned same-sex marriages in the state and refused to acknowledge gay marriages performed in other states. Four states — Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada — took the additional step to add such provisions into their constitutions.

National attempts to clarify the issue have failed so far. A Marriage Amendment bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives and was sent on to the U.S. Senate. It is not expected to pass because an earlier version failed in the Senate to break cloture — a parliamentary procedure by which debate is ended and an immediate vote is taken on the matter under discussion.

Lot of green for that ham

At the Boone County Fair ham auction Saturday morning, 6-year-old Wyatt Burnett stood on a chair and held his grand champion 14-pound ham in his small arms.

The buzz of friendly chatter filled the room. Wyatt turned his head to smile at his mother, Michelle, and his older sister, reserve champion Shelby Burnett, 11, both seated on the raised stage. The auctioneer stepped up to the microphone and the bidding began.

Web site offers job help for homeless

Ray Green sat near a coffee shop on Ninth Street, watching people come and go. He didn’t ask for money, but pedestrians would occasionally give him spare change.

Green, 40 years old and homeless, said he wasn’t aware of the new government Web site launched Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Labor designed to help homeless people find jobs, but laughed at the idea.

Volunteers share civic responsibility at games

Laura McKean and Taylor Kelly were part of the 2004 Show-Me State Games on Friday, but not as athletes. They checked out the track and field event first-hand by supporting the Missouri athletes, keeping score, timing races and helping with concessions.

“A whole bunch of other people come from different states, and it’s really fun to see everyone here,” Laura said.

UM board looks for increase in budget

University of Missouri system will request more than an $81 million increase in its core operating budget for the 2006 fiscal year.

At its meeting Friday, the University of Missouri Board of Curators supported the system’s plan to request $481,057,147 in state appropriations, up from the $400 million granted to the system for the 2005 fiscal year. The increase would cover costs of operating new buildings and expenditures for new scholarship and MU Health Care programs.

Square roots

Fairgoers young and old square-danced along to the fiddle as the caller gave the next step. Fast and slow, the caller and fiddler worked in harmony. Both are essential for a good square dance, and both captivated audiences at this year’s Boone County Fair.

Robotics team goes national with idea

It sits right off the entryway of the Dunwoody residence — a 4-by-8 table covered with yellow and blue plastic cups, foam balls and robots made of LEGOs and thousands of dollars of electronic components. The Columbia Robotics Team runs trials, watching the robots pick up foam balls and knock over cups.

“We’re just going to keep making changes and minor adjustments,” said Mark Dunwoody, head coach. “We may have these things completely redone by the end of the night.”