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House OKs proposed budget

JEFFERSON CITY — The House passed an $18.6 billion budget Wednesday that provides a bigger increase for education than the governor recommended — without tax increases.

The budget was passed on the same day that the Revenue Department released numbers showing that state revenue collections are up significantly.

Park ends deer hunt

When a helicopter crew surveyed deer in Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in December 2001, the count was 53 deer per square mile — more than twice the target population. An overpopulation of deer in the park, which has historically been off-limits to hunting, led the state to sponsor special hunts in the park for the first time in 2001.

After three years of managed hunts in the park, an aerial survey in January 2004 put the number of deer at 16 per square mile, the lowest ever counted. The decline was enough for state officials to recently decide that another hunt won’t be needed this winter.

Ross leads MU hospitals

After sharing his office for a week, James “Jim” Ross, the new executive director of MU Health Care, will have his own workspace, beginning next week.

Ross, who began his new job April 1, is replacing David Coats, the outgoing executive director from the Hunter Group, a consulting firm hired in September 2002 to lift MU Health Care out of the red. Coats is leaving the post April 15.

MU, Columbia departments prepared for rising gas prices

Wise budgeting and buying in bulk has saved the city government, emergency services and MU from negative effects of recent increases in gasoline prices.

Local prices for regular gasoline reached as high as $1.66 per gallon in recent weeks, which was an increase of 7.1 percent in a one-month period.

Intelligent design bill debated at Hickman

The merits of a bill that would change the way Missouri schools teach science were debated at a forum held Wednesday night at Hickman High School.

Richard Blount, a retired pastor representing the First United Methodist Church; Mike Burt, a pastor at Grace Bible Church; Jan Weaver, director of Environmental Studies at MU; and Glen Freirichs, a Westminister College chemistry professor, spoke about Missouri House Bill 911, which requires public schools to teach intelligent design along with evolution. Intelligent design is the theory that the diversity of life on earth was brought about by an intelligent being or beings.

Officials criticize tax-based funding

JEFFERSON CITY — State education officials said Wednesday that increased local support through property taxes as a result of Tuesday’s statewide voting could increase funding inequities.

Of 114 school districts asking voters to go to the polls Tuesday, 54 approved tax raises and 31 approved bonds for construction. Columbia voters were asked to approve a bond issue only, which they did.

Filmmaker Spike Lee visits MU, shows film

Spike Lee came for his first visit to Columbia on Tuesday, when he spoke to an audience at MU’s Jesse Auditorium and showed his 1989 movie "Do the Right Thing."

Lee talked about the state of NCAA sports, rap artist 50 Cent, the portrayal of blacks in the media, and his life of directing and producing movies.

It’s Hindman by a landslide

For the first time in Columbia’s history, Columbia voters Tuesday elected the same person to Columbia’s top position for a fourth consecutive term.

Darwin Hindman defeated newcomers John Clark and Arch Brooks to win another three-year term. Of the 11,376 votes cast in the race, Hindman garnered 8,052, good for more than 70 percent of the total. Clark finished second with 2,946, or nearly 26 percent, while Brooks received 378, or just more than 3 percent.

Kemper Fellows honored

Armed with a pizza joke and a big announcement, MU Chancellor Richard Wallace interrupted four classes Tuesday to present professors with William T. Kemper Fellowships for Teaching Excellence.

The Kemper Fellowships award $10,000 to each educator in recognition of their teaching skills, no strings attached. Six more teachers will be surprised with the honor by April 16. The fellowship winners are not announced in advance.

Columbia schools gain funds

Leaky roofs and other maintenance problems will begin to be repaired right away in the Columbia Public School District with the passage of a $22.5 million bond issue in Tuesday’s election.

The bond issue required 57 percent of the vote to approve extending the district’s debt payment for another three years to fund construction, maintenance and equipment. The bond issue received 10,181 votes, or 69.6 percent of the vote.

Historic house to be moved

The relocation of the historic Pop Collins Log Cabin, which sits behind a security fence at Stephens Lake Park, will begin within the next few weeks.

By the end of May, every beam, rafter and log of the Pop Collins cabin will be moved to Nifong Park.

MU’s life sciences programs draw fire

While MU celebrates its second annual Life Sciences Week, students and community members say the university’s “obsession” with life sciences is a bad idea.

Students for Progressive Action is challenging MU’s top priority and says the university uses public money to promote corporate culture, misallocates money and fails to address ethical and social questions raised by biotechnological and genetic engineering research.

Fox boosting TV signal in mid-Missouri

Most Boone County television viewers without a cable connection have been limited to the three major networks. But beginning in May, they’ll be able to tune in to the local Fox affiliate.

JW Broadcasting LLC announced Tuesday that a transmitter upgrade recently approved by the Federal Communications Commission will increase substantially the number of households that can receive KQFX/Channel 11. The upgrade comes in the wake of the company’s plans to construct an addition to its transmission tower in Ashland.

YOUR VOICES

As an ecologist, an avid bicyclist and a mother of two children, 44-year-old Esther Stroh has long been a big fan of Mayor Darwin Hindman.

“I love Hindman, always have,” said Stroh, who has lived in Columbia for eight years. “The thing about Hindman is that even the people that don’t agree with him still like him.”

School board incumbents win election

The Columbia Board of Education will continue business as usual: Incumbents Karla DeSpain and Chuck Headley were both re-elected Tuesday.

DeSpain, who works part time as the financial officer of her husband’s medical practice and keeps busy with her two school-age daughters, will begin her second three-year term.

Election results around the county

Here’s a look at election results elsewhere in Boone County. A total of 16,900 ballots were cast, representing 17.3 percent of registered voters.

Ashland

Political impact of tax votes questioned

JEFFERSON CITY — With over 100 school districts asking their residents to approve increased taxation Tuesday, the public school funding debate could be significantly altered.

Some state lawmakers have chosen to blame the Foundation Formula — the calculation that determines aid for public schools across the state — for putting schools in their current predicaments.

School funding up in new budget

JEFFERSON CITY — Weeks later than usual, the Missouri House could begin action today on a state budget that rejects the governor’s proposals and has few substantial changes from the current year’s budget.

The almost $18.5 billion budget was passed out of the House Budget Committee on Monday on a near-partisan vote. The University of Missouri system would receive the same amount that it was appropriated for the current year.

Bush brings the heat for Opening Day

ST. LOUIS – There was no umpire behind the plate to call it, but it was a strike. No doubt about it.

President Bush strode confidently to the Busch Stadium pitcher’s mound, waving to the crowd all the way and taking care not to step on the first base line, in keeping with an old baseball superstition, and wasted no time throwing a strike over the inside corner.

Farmers reap appreciation

Like many farmers, Ron Flatt has been through depressed commodity prices, the farm crisis of the 1980s and droughts. While many of his Boone County neighbors chose to get out of the business, Flatt was a pioneer for innovations in agriculture to improve his efficiency and increase returns.

Flatt and his family were awarded for their persistence when they were named Boone County Chamber of Commerce Agriculturalists of the Year.

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