Documentaries hit downtown

David Redmon’s best friend while filming “Director of Mardi Gras: Made in China” was a dictionary.

“Making the film was really difficult because I was working alone and didn’t have any kind of crew,” Redmon said. “I didn’t have a translator, so I was communicating through a dictionary.”

Facing a tough cut

By 2003, John Pepper had abused drugs and alcohol for 41 years and spent 25 years in prison for a variety of crimes, from drug-dealing to burglary.

Pepper, 58, said he had struck bottom.

Children’s shelter gets boost in funding

At a ceremony Friday morning, Columbia resident Wes Stricker presented the Boys and Girls Town of Missouri with a check for $100,000, the largest donation yet for a new and more secure facility being built on Bearfield Road.

“The challenge here is to help with the buildings here,” Stricker said.

Consultants submit public housing plans

The Columbia Housing Authority has received proposals from two consulting firms for redevelopment of public housing along Park Avenue, according to Rick Hess, the Housing Authority’s director of asset management. A consultant would guide the redevelopment project and apply for federal funding.

“It’s been discussed for a few years, and it’s exciting that it’s moving forward,” Hess said.

Civil servant worked with MU, police, government

W. E. “Bill” Moyes wanted to be a police detective, but at 5 feet 7 inches, he just missed the height requirement.

This did not stop him from a long career in agriculture, eight years at the Student Financial Aid office at MU, and church and volunteer work. Mr. Moyes served as president of the board of the Columbia Police Department’s Crime Blockers group.

Drawing from Education

On a recent morning, students in Hickman High School’s introductory drawing and painting class were working on landscape paintings. The atmosphere was relaxed, with a radio playing modern rock in the background. When they weren’t focused on their own paintings, the students moved around the room, glancing at the work of others.

The assignment required a strong contemporary focus, and the students have been studying everything from Paul Cezanne’s mountain ranges to Georgia O’Keeffe’s Western scenes for inspiration. Jane Belcher, a senior, sat at the end of one of the long tables on the perimeter of the room. Her painting depicts a forest scene and relies heavily on the color green. It also features a large orange giraffe with brown spots.

Telling an immigrant’s story

Dear Reader,

I first met Xu Liping and Yang Lei entirely by chance when a craving for some good Chinese food led me to their Columbia-area restaurant. When I ordered in Mandarin, rather than English, their faces brightened, and soon they were sharing with me their family’s story of illegal immigration to the United States, and the decade of hardship, separation and suffering that followed.

Easy Riders

Every Saturday, a group of extraterrestrials meets to cruise the roads of Boone County. They are a peculiar sort: their heads shaped like eggs, their clothes marked in green neon, their eyes shaded and oval-shaped.

Their traveling machines are similarly odd: vast networks of tubes and cables, powered by circular gearing systems and two spinning gyros.

Super-sized purses create big problems

I’ve written before about the various differences between the two sexes. Women have much more of the burden to bear throughout life. One of the many examples that life is lopsided is the age-old tradition of the woman carrying a purse.

I watched my husband get ready for work this morning — such a simple ritual. He buttons his shirt, zips up his pants and then places his “necessities” into his pockets. His billfold goes in his back left pocket. A nail clipper and tiny pocket knife (for warding off any attackers) go into one side pocket; the other is reserved for loose change and paper money. That’s it!

Sustaining a GROWING congregation

One evening a few months ago, tears welled in Darcie Putnam’s eyes as she watched fellow members of The Crossing Church drop envelopes into a basket.

She and her husband were among about 200 families enjoying a night of prayer and celebration in a conference room at Stoney Creek Inn. The lights were low and soft music played as, one by one, members of the evangelical Presbyterian congregation walked slowly to the front of the room and made their contributions toward The Crossing’s first church building.

Filming a story of survival

After six years teaching English to Bosnian refugees in Columbia, Kerri Yost took what, for her, was the next logical step: making a film about them. And then another film. And then one more.

The second of Yost’s trilogy is a four-minute documentary entitled “Waiting for Adnan,” which will be screened Sunday at the Missouri Theatre as part of the True/False Film Festival.

UM system payments deferred

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Matt Blunt has decided to defer payments totaling $100 million to the University of Missouri system and five other state universities, a Blunt spokesman said Thursday.

During a conference call on Wednesday night with presidents from each school, Blunt received unanimous consent to defer the payments. From March until May, the schools will receive a distributed amount of $14 million per month as opposed to the $47 million usually allotted.

Police: No ‘white van’ reports filed

Columbia police said on Thursday they had no reason to believe there is a connection between two reports — circulated all over town via e-mail — of a man stalking women in a white van.

The e-mail was sent Wednesday morning and warned of a man in a white van who followed one woman last Monday and another woman on Tuesday. Contrary to the claim in the e-mail, police said they had not received any reports of people being harassed by a man in a white van, Capt. Mike Martin said.

Passengers improve after crash

Five of the 17 Mexican migrant workers involved in Tuesday’s fatal accident on eastbound I-70 were in fair condition on Thursday, according to a University Hospital spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman said the five are expected to be released by the end of the week.

Council weighs holiday options

Three times a year, the simple act of going to class becomes an inner conflict of faith for MU junior Courtney Jakul.

“I would go to really important classes on religious holidays, and it made me feel really guilty,” Jakul said. “I grew up in a traditional family where we didn’t go to work or do anything on religious holidays except go to services.”

MU panel debates plus/minus grades

MU’s grading system came under scrutiny at Thursday’s Faculty Council meeting, as some schools disagreed with language in the Faculty Handbook that suggests professors must award grades on a plus/minus scale.

The Faculty Handbook says faculty are “expected” to use the plus/minus system, and this wording has been interpreted as saying the system is required.

State’s flu cases on the rise

More than halfway through the flu season, the number of cases reported statewide is significantly lower than last year’s flu reports. But health officials said the number of cases reported in the last week was up 41 percent from the previous week — and that sometimes signifies the beginning of a peak.

Influenza reports statewide increased by 712 cases, from 1,015 the week of Jan. 30-Feb. 5, to 1,727 the week of Feb. 6-12, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services Web site.

Changes to bill limits worker lawsuits

JEFFERSON CITY — A House committee’s changes to a Senate bill tightening eligibility requirements for workers’ compensation prompted one lawmaker to warn Missourians: “Don’t get hurt. Don’t get hurt. Do not get hurt.”

Rep. Tom George, D-St. Louis County, said the House version of the bill would increase the involvement of lawyers while politicizing the role of the judges who hear worker’s compensation cases.

Identity confirmed in Tuesday car death

The identity of a woman who was found dead after a Tuesday evening car explosion was discovered through dental records on Thursday.

Columbia resident Autumn J. Cox, 41, lit her Jeep Grand Cherokee on fire and crashed it into a utility pole to take her own life in the 1100 block of Pannell Street on Tuesday, fire officials said Wednesday.

House GOP erases Senate compromises on workers' comp

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri House of Representatives Republicans want it their way on workers’ compensation.

By introducing a substitute bill that erases compromises made in the Senate and inserting several changes desired by business interests, Republicans reasserted their control over workers’ compensation legislation at a hearing Wednesday.