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Sociable sociologist inspires

Several evenings a week — as he has for the past 29 years — Jim Metscher stands at the front of his classroom at Columbia College, wearing his signature vest and rolled-up jeans, while he leads his students in discussions about sociology.

Having been with the school’s evening program since it began in 1975, Metscher seeks to make connections with his students’ interests in an effort to let their natural curiosity direct the activities of the class, a method he calls “engaging education.”

Other side of the law

A few weeks ago, Steven Rios was employed to protect and serve Columbia. On Thursday, he was led into police department headquarters as a murder suspect.

Investigators arrested Rios, a former officer, at 8:55 a.m. Thursday on charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the slaying of MU student Jesse Valencia.

Fire in the Sky mates music, math

Stars and Stripes Forever will be echoing from Memorial Stadium as 1,000 firework shells are launched Sunday evening when the Fire in the Sky display will celebrate its first year in Memorial Stadium in more than two decades.

The fireworks will begin at 9:30 and will be synchronized with patriotic music played by the 40- member chamber orchestra of the Missouri Symphony – in its third year of performing live with the display. People watching the fireworks from outside the stadium can also enjoy the pyromusical presentation by tuning in to the live broadcast on KFRU 1400 AM.

Neighbors open fireworks tent

It’s not exactly a family business — but it’s a neighborly one.

Helmi Sheely explained that two families — hers and her friend’s, Nancy Palmer — run Family Fireworks together. The women also work together at Palmer’s contracting company, Coastal Electric, and they live next door to each other.

Ready, aim, 4-H fires for competition

Standing in a shelter set up in a clearing in the woods, Brandon Huskey shoves the ramrod down the barrel of his muzzleloader, removes it and awaits the signal to step to the firing line. When it’s given, he steps forward and takes aim at a bull’s-eye 50 yards away.

Huskey is participating in the 4-H Shooting Sports National Match, which is being held in Columbia this year for the first time. He said he has participated in shooting sports for the past nine years while a member of the Sturgeon Goalseekers 4-H Club.

Fifty years later, soldier returns home

HANNIBAL — It took more than half a century, but a soldier killed during the Korean War is finally coming home to Missouri.

Hannibal native Sgt. 1st Class Carl Brewington was killed Dec. 2, 1950, during a battle at the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. Brewington’s son, Bob Brewington of Smithfield, N.C., recently was notified that after three years of lab tests, his father’s remains have been positively identified.

Bottles banned on state waterways

In less than two months, a new state law will answer a question considered by many Missouri kayakers, canoers and float tubers: cans or bottles?

Legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Bob Holden will prohibit glass bottles on all Missouri waterways in watercraft that are susceptible to tipping. The law becomes effective Aug. 28.

Truck hits ambulance, overturns on U.S. 63

A truck traveling south on U.S. 63 overturned around 8 p.m. Thursday after it collided with the back of an ambulance.

The driver of the truck, who identified himself as Kelly Ripley, said the ambulance was merging onto U.S. 63 from the Stadium Boulevard entrance ramp. The cars ahead and behind him moved into the left lane to give the ambulance the right of way, he said, but the ambulance merged into the left lane also. A driver in the car ahead of the ambulance braked, Ripley said, causing the ambulance to do so as well.

Saddam rejects charges of war crimes

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein scoffed at charges of war crimes and mass killings Thursday, making a defiant first public appearance since being hunted down seven months ago. The deposed dictator fixed the judge with a penetrating stare and declared: “This is all a theater by Bush, the criminal.”

Dressed in a charcoal-colored suit jacket, Saddam — whose day in court was shown on TV in the Arab world and beyond — looked thinner and better groomed than on Dec. 13, the day U.S. troops pulled him from a hole near Tikrit.

Valencia’s family awaits trial

After almost a month of waiting and wondering, Jesse Valencia’s family met news of Steven Rios’ arrest Thursday with a mix of relief, sadness and grim determination.

Valencia’s mother, Linda Valencia of Perryville, Ky., said she was relieved that an arrest had finally been made.

Health center debuts today

For 12 years, the Family Health Center — tight on budget and tight on space — has provided care to medically underserved Missourians. The walls of the old center’s waiting room were lined with handmade posters advocating proper health management. Steel chairs filled the small space, leaving little room for people or wheelchairs to maneuver. A partitioned room in the corner served as a children’s play area with mats on the floor and toys stacked high.

Drug prices outpace inflation

WASHINGTON — Drug makers raised prescription prices by nearly triple the rate of inflation in the first three months of this year — just before Medicare began its pharmacy discount card program — negating much of the savings the government promised to seniors, according to an AARP survey released Wednesday.

Prices rose by 3.4 percent among the top 200 brand-name drugs while inflation in general was 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2004, the study said. It tracked the prices pharmaceutical companies charge drug wholesalers.

Response to NCAA due today

Today is MU’s deadline to respond to allegations made by the NCAA following investigation into the men’s basketball program.

The response will be “a pretty lengthy document,” MU athletics spokesman Chad Moller said Wednesday. MU will dispute some of the allegations, he said, but declined to say which.

Water plans discussed at open house

Fewer than a dozen people gathered Wednesday evening at an open house at Ashland City Hall to discuss a possible regional wastewater treatment plant in southern Boone County.

Tiff Lauffer, who lives six miles west of Ashland, said that a regional treatment system “is something that has been neglected or just wasn’t done. It should have been done 30 years ago.”

It’s okay to be macho, study says

In a time when it seems anything and everything can be bad for you, a study of college men found that a traditionally masculine personality isn’t.

The MU researchers say their findings go against other work in the field that suggests traits traditionally seen as masculine — such as hiding emotions, acting tough and not sharing feelings — are related to psychological distress.

Fans marvel at Spider-Man 2

For Tonya Lovett, Spider-Man 2 has it all — a bit of drama, a dash of romance, and a heavy helping of web-slinging action.

“It really was a good movie,” said Lovett, who attended a matinee showing of the new film, which was released Wednesday, with her husband Perry and their four children. “It had a love story for me and action for him, and of course, the kids loved it.”

This camp means business

About 170 Missouri high school students are learning and working on the different aspects of business during Missouri Business Week on the MU campus. In its 19th year, the event is sponsored by the Missouri Association of Realtors and the Missouri College of Business.

“It’s a lot of fun because it’s like school without the teachers,” said Kelsie Van Hoose, a senior at Southern Boone High School in Ashland.

Lawn program helps seniors stay independent

From her home off the Midway exit west of Columbia, 92-year-old Ruby Cook still drives to town three times a week to volunteer at the Boone County Council on Aging. She works at the sign-in desk and makes change for those who need it.

“Besides my stroke and a few minor ailments, I’m doing great,” Cook said.

Phones aid hearing impaired

Kelly Mishler is a typical student at St. Louis’ Visitation Academy, but she can’t pick up the telephone to order a pizza like most of her friends. She loves to socialize as much as any 15-year-old, but her friends can’t call her on a regular telephone. Kelly is hearing impaired, the result of contracting encephalitis at age 18 months.

Her mother, Traci Mishler, would describe Kelly as successfully mainstreamed, a wonderful student at an academically challenging school, with normal speech and language despite a hearing loss of up to 70 percent.

Protesters act out abuse of prisoners

Outside the U.S. Military Recruiting Station at 111 E. Broadway, a group of anti-war demonstrators gather, holding signs that read “BE ALL WE TELL YOU TO BE” and “BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE: TORTURE, RAPE, PILLAGE.”

At the sound of a hand-held siren, the group begins a re-enactment of an Iraqi prisoner being abused by an American soldier.

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