Summer school focus of discussion

Although it’s nearly the beginning of winter, summer school was the main topic of discussion at the Columbia Board of Education meeting Monday night.

The board voted to give Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Phyllis Chase authority to negotiate a contract with Newton Learning Systems, a private educational company responsible for more than 70 Missouri summer school programs.

GOP tightens grip on Mo.

JEFFERSON CITY — Election Day 2004 was a dream come true for Peter Kinder.

Not only did the Republican state senator from Cape Girardeau narrowly win the race for lieutenant governor, he also saw his party gain control of the governor’s office for the first time in more than a decade, win the state treasurer’s race and increase its majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

Whistle-blowing remains a concern

There is a way of knowing when something of value goes out of one’s life. I knew. The moment I realized that 30 years ago, I would never have debated with myself over the issue of whistle-blowing. In those good/bad days, if a person had evidence that people were skirting the law or committing a crime or endangering lives, he/she reported them to the proper authorities.

But when I picked up the newspaper the other day and read the story about Bunnatine Greenhouse, a contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers who is attempting to advise her bosses about concerns she had over an extended troop support contract with Halliburton, I felt a griping sensation in the muscles in my stomach. She has publicly alleged that favoritism had been shown toward Halliburton, which was formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. This was an action which I once would have applauded but now only fills me with a sense of dread. Situations like this always take me back to the Karen Silkwood case in 1974.

Election saw rise in values voting

Before the presidential election, Iraq, the economy and health care were the buzz words. Now, much of the political talk has shifted to the impact of values voters.

A widely cited CBS News exit poll showed that 22 percent of voters identified “moral values” as their top issue.

Board to pass or run with turf

The Columbia Public School District will decide today whether to fund half the cost to install artificial turf for football fields at Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools.

The Rock Bridge Booster Club approached Bruce Whitesides, director of physical education and athletics, and other members of the athletic department 18 months ago to request another field for soccer. The athletic department decided it wasn’t a viable option and instead proposed installing artificial turf.

Kidding around

Even though she’s 43, it’s not out of character for Jill Womack to sit at the kids’ table.

“If there’s a big family dinner, you can usually find me sitting with the kids because that’s where all the action is,” she said. “Working with kids is never dull or boring.”

While in college, Womack applied that philosophy to an assignment that required her to design a professional children’s theater. After living in New York for a year as a self-described starving artist, Womack traveled to Los Angeles, where she founded a theater company with friends.

Womack launched TRYPS (Theater Reaching Young People & Schools) in 2000 when she returned to Columbia.

For mid-Mo. artisans, it’s about love of the craft

Harold Uthlaut looked at home Sunday in the Hearnes Center Fieldhouse, though he lives 50 miles northwest in Glasgow. The 76-year-old, sporting blue jeans, suspenders and a contagious smile, couldn’t help but offer a word or two to those passing his stand of wood crafts.

“Go ahead, pick it up … that’s made of tin, this is cast iron … that’s included with it,” he said as three different people glanced his direction.

Hundreds of mid-Missourians sidestepped through aisles with the smell of cinnamon and country candles in the air to browse and buy from the more than 300 vendors like Uthlaut who crowded into the Hearnes Center for the 19th annual Fall Art and Craft Show.

Police looking for suspects in home robbery

Three men broke into a home in the 500 block of West Sexton Road at about 5 p.m. Sunday.

In a press release, Sgt. Ken Hammond said a man knocked on the front door of the house. While he was speaking to one of the residents, the other two men en-tered through the back door, wearing ski masks. One displayed a handgun. The three suspects de-manded an unknown amount of property, and then fled the scene on foot.

Evoking emotion

The artist: Joel Sager, a native Missourian, recently completed his degree at William Jewell College in Kansas City and now resides in Columbia. His mixed-media creations have been described as “smart and moody,” although Sager sees them more as “dark and deconstructive.”

The art: Sager’s work evokes some of the same post-war themes as regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton, who also focused on middle-American life and the rural landscape.

It’s a kick

Three second graders bounce into a large, white gymnasium and plop onto the gray carpet at Chance Elementary School in Centralia.

“Coach, are we playing soccer again?” one girl asks.

Community Sketchbook

Pastoral heart, Columbia art

He came to Columbia to study art, but it was the city that made Joseph Citro an artist.

“Painting in Columbia reminds me of the ideal isolation van Gogh must’ve felt, living in Arles, while everyone else lived in Paris,” says Citro, 26.

Bad weather, awful traffic curb road trip

Last week, I went to Kansas City to have lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in months. Somehow the telephone doesn’t have the same appeal as seeing someone face to face — and a little shopping never hurt either.

My husband wanted me to postpone my journey. He always worries if there is rain in the forecast. There were possible severe thunderstorms, but I was determined.

Design for the future

After months of research, planning and splitting hairs with their builder, the Clarks have built what they hope is their last home.

The fact that no visitor in two years has noticed the painstaking attention to detail in the house doesn’t bother them. They see it as a sign that they did things right.

History of dedication

MILLERSBURG — Mabel Fischer’s dark-wood dining-room table is used not for meals but for research.

It is stacked with old photos, worn books, yellowing newspaper clippings and papers of various sizes with notes she has written to herself. The 86-year-old is a historian. She records the history of her family, the cakes she makes and the life of her church.

Life through a prism

The visual spectrum envelops us. Yet as we go about our daily lives, color’s beauty is taken for granted. We often forget to enjoy the colors around us until the autumn leaves remind us with their reds, yellows and browns.

A trite phrase reminds us to “stop and smell the roses.” But perhaps we should be reminded to “stop and experience the colors.” That became the goal of this photographic exercise. The photographers who made these pictures pressed their cameras to their faces to test their ability to see color in a unique and pleasing manner. These photographers were asked to look purposefully through their lenses and capture the colors around them — not simply to photograph the colors, but to use the colors to create a mood or to reveal an interesting aspect of a scene.

Local bladesmith’s swords respect their history

Jack Hathman’s interest in knives and swords began when he was 14 years old. While working on a science project, his penknife slipped, leaving him bleeding profusely. But the power of a single sharp blade sparked an epiphany of sorts, and later that year, Hathman made his first knife.

“I haven’t cut myself since then,” Hathman claims, “despite no shortage of sharp objects.”

Call to arms

A dozen high school students, most of them just shy of voting age, circle their chairs in a basement room at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Another dozen parents and church members sit alongside the students or lean against a nearby wall.

Dylan Raithel, 17, pays close attention as Columbia peace activist Jeff Stack and John Betz, a Vietnam War veteran, address the church youth group.

Thumbs up for Columbia Public Schools

According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Columbia Public School district is performing up to standard.

The state education department released its yearly performance reports for every school in the state Monday.

Harris to lead Mo. Democrats in House

JEFFERSON CITY — House Democrats elected Columbia Rep. Jeff Harris as their new floor leader in a closed-door caucus Friday.

The second-term legislator will face the challenge of leading the Democrats in a chamber where they are outnumbered by Republicans 97-66.