MoDOT chief discusses road improvements

JEFFERSON CITY — Conceding that Missouri’s roads are in sad shape, the director of the Missouri Department of Transportation on Wednesday promised legislators a new day at one of the state’s most beleaguered departments.

Pete Rahn in a State of Transportation address outlined a variety of plans designed to revamp Missouri’s rocky roads. He touted the Smoother, Safer, Sooner plan, a program designed to speed road improvements using money provided by Amendment 3. The constitutional amendment approved by voters in November funnels all transportation-related taxes directly to the transportation department.

Lip-syncers raise $1,441 from ticket sales

The annual Golden Cow lip-sync competition raised $1,441 this year through ticket sales.

Callaway Co. praised for ’rural charm’

The February 2005 issue of Progressive Farmer magazine ranks Callaway County as the fourth-best place to live in rural America.

Health care, education, climate, pollution, crime and taxes were considered in the rankings, as well as factors such as scenery, quality of life and leisure and cultural opportunities. The magazine said the county “can boast of a low crime rate, good school systems and a low cost of living. Though it’s growing fast, the county has kept its warm rural charm.”

Bush: Saving Social Security won’t be easy

WASHINGTON — President Bush Wednesday night called for a historic restructuring of Social Security that would allow younger workers for the first time to invest some of their payroll taxes in the stock market, declaring in his annual State of the Union address that without change, the venerable program is headed toward bankruptcy.

Speaking to a joint session of Congress and a national television audience, Bush sketched out in more detail than before the top domestic goal of his second term but stopped short of providing a complete blueprint to leave himself negotiating room with skeptical lawmakers. Under his plan, workers younger than 55 could divert up to 4 percent of income subject to Social Security taxation into private investment accounts beginning in 2009.

Smart Growth meeting canvasses Sapp plan

Members of the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition met with the spokesman for developer Billy Sapp on Wednesday night to address environmental and infrastructure issues related to a proposed 1,800-home development east of Columbia.

None hurt in morning blaze

Columbia fire investigators plan to meet with police detectives from the Major Crimes Unit this morning to jointly investigate a fire that took place at a Columbia mobile home park early Tuesday morning.

Columbia Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said the fire, which fire investigators determined was arson, began near the front porch and moved quickly into the interior of the home at lot 171 of Pinegrove Village Mobile Home Park, 3900 Clark Lane. Firefighters battled heavy flames, which quickly weakened the floor of the structure.

Battle for MSU mark goes postal

The president of the University of Missouri System has remained quiet concerning Southwest Missouri State University’s desire to change its name to “Missouri State University.”

But Elson Floyd is making his stance clear on SMSU’s effort to trademark “Missouri State University” before the legislature approves the name change.

State Senate strikes gift cap

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri senators on Tuesday removed the lid on the value of gifts they can accept from lobbyists but closed the lid on laptop computers.

By a voice vote, the Senate voted to eliminate from its rules a provision barring senators from accepting gifts worth more than $50 from a single lobbyist or more than $100 in gifts from multiple lobbyists per year.

Exhibit looks at Columbia history

Throughout February, the basement of the Old Armory Sports Center will display a part of Columbia’s past not easily found by opening a history book.

Wynna Faye Elbert, a founding member of the Blind Boone Heritage Foundation, and Bill Thompson, a specialist with the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, have assembled the exhibit during Black History Month for more than 10 years. Elbert created it while working on her master’s degree in community development at MU. Instead of writing a thesis, she received approval to engage in a creative endeavor.

Parents learn to map out progress

Parents have two opportunities tonight to discuss coming Missouri Assessment Program tests and the No Child Left Behind Act, a federal act initiated by President Bush that set annual goals for standardized test scores.

The Columbia chapter of the National Education Association is hosting a MAP informational session from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Hickman High School commons, and the MU chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, the professional association for educators, will discuss the federal act from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Lee Room of Dulaney Hall at Columbia College. Both are open to the public.

Inauguration reflections

Attending an inauguration isn’t about remembering what the president happened to say. Unlike the State of the Union address, which sets the president’s agenda for the year, an inauguration is less about the country’s problems and more about balls, parades, flags, machine guns atop buildings and — most important — gold-embossed souvenir invitations.

That’s the perception of two Columbia residents who sat down Monday to reminisce about their experiences at two inaugurations 32 years apart. They were more inspired by the opportunity to rub elbows with the likes of Don King and Colonel Sanders than by anything Presidents Richard Nixon or George W. Bush said.

Faith sparks home-schooling for some

To the left, a large shelf spans the entire wall filled with education curriculum, history and literature books and rocks labeled with their scientific names.

In the corner of the room sits a student’s desk, there is a globe on another desk, and hanging on the wall is a chart listing all the U.S presidents.

Curators to vote on tuition increase

The University of Missouri Board of Curators will vote Thursday on the smallest tuition increase since 2001-02.

A 3.5 percent increase for the 2005-06 school year will be formally proposed by Elson Floyd, president of the University of Missouri System, when the curators gather at MU.

Gauging the State of the Union

Tonight, President Bush will address Congress, the nation and the world in the first State of the Union address of his second term. The speech serves as the president’s keynote address for the year, an opportunity for him to outline his domestic and foreign policy agendas.

The tradition is rooted in the U.S. Constitution and George Washington’s historic first State of the Union address in 1790, which focused on how to maintain the union of the states and establish the foundation for a successful democracy. Two hundred and fifteen years later, President Bush is likely to discuss the challenges of establishing a democracy in Iraq, the prospect of an independent Palestinian state and the need for Social Security reform.

Filtration Innovation

Wilderness gurus will find the most innovative part of Columbia’s new Bass Pro Shop outside its doors.

IARA waits for ruling on assets

The Islamic American Relief Agency will have to wait at least two more weeks for a judge to determine whether the agency can regain control of its assets and resume its work.

Senator pushes for Reagan day

JEFFERSON CITY — It’s a short list.

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Harry S. Truman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Christopher Columbus. Those are the men Missouri honors with state holidays.

County purchases prime real estate

As a committee discusses how to ease a space crunch in Boone County government, county commissioners have acquired or contracted to buy several pieces of prime downtown real estate.

Engineers eat fill at free lunch

Whoever said there’s no such thing as a free lunch has not met a member of MU’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Hot dogs, chips and chili filled a long table in front of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering office at MU’s Thomas and Nell Lafferre Hall on Friday afternoon. A warm grill and a bag of charcoal sat outside the building in the cold weather. The scene was more reminiscent of a barbecue than a January school day, but for the society, the two are interwoven.

Donate children’s books at MU games

MU athletics fans are asked to bring books appropriate for children up to age 6 to Tiger men’s and women’s basketball games Feb. 12.

The books will be donated to the Mizzou Tigers Children’s Book Drive, sponsored by the MU athletic department, Boone Early Childhood Partners and the Golden K Kiwanis Club of Columbia.