Medicare firm opens new office

There’s a new federally designated Medicare quality improvement organization in town.

After 20 years in Jefferson City, the Missouri Patient Care Review Foundation, also known as MissouriPRO, opened a new office on 200 N. Keene St. in mid-July.

Meet-up provides site for Kerry supporters

When John Kerry received the Democratic presidential nomination last month, it brought together different factions of the party. Since then, groups that once supported candidates like Howard Dean and Wesley Clark have been heading to the Boone County Democratic Headquarters to back Kerry.

This unity was put on display Thursday at the first Kerry Meet-Up since the Democratic National Convention. Jim Windsor, the event's coordinator, describes a Kerry Meet-Up as a monthly meeting for people who haven't yet been involved in the campaign. He stresses that meet-ups can be used to organize any group of people with similar interests.

Rejuvenating Ellis Library

Jim Cogswell, director of MU Libraries, has a dream that breaks tradition: He wants the library to become a campus hot spot.

Libraries have long been regarded as places big on serious thought and sober behavior. This aura comes through particularly in some of Ellis’ older sections, dominated by worn, marked furniture, dusty windows and books, books, books.

Off-campus treks forge freshmen bonds

While many freshmen spend their first days at college touring the grounds and visiting the bookstore, some first-years at Columbia College spent last Saturday getting to know each other away from campus.

Through the school’s “Explorientation’’ program, participating students spent “Cougar Day’’ — named for the Columbia College mascot — with campus life staff members at the Lake of the Ozarks, on a float trip in Steelville, at the state fair in Sedalia or in downtown St. Louis.

Road chief promises value

JEFFERSON CITY — As he was introduced Thursday, Missouri’s new transportation director said that he has no immediate solutions to the state’s highway problems.

Pete Rahn, former chief of transportation in New Mexico, was presented as the Missouri Highways and Transportation Department’s new director Thursday.

City roadway vote postponed

Two dozen residents attended a public hearing Thursday afternoon at the City Council Chambers to add input to the Columbia Area Transportation Study Organization’s proposed changes to the city’s roadway plan.

But not enough of the organization’s members stuck around for the committee to make its quorum and take a vote.

Christian groups join forces for concert

Several campus ministry organizations are joining forces to bring a Christian band to the MU campus Saturday evening.

Summerville, an acoustic-rock band formerly known as the Pool Boys, has performed nationwide at both church gatherings and public venues. The band, which was formed by students at the University of Kansas six years ago and is now based in Nashville, has also released five CDs.

Turn down the heat!

After enjoying unusually cool temperatures for most of the summer, Boone County residents finally felt the heat Thursday. Temperatures in the low 90s combined with high humidity to produce heat indices of nearly 110 degrees at times. The county was one of 11 in mid-Missouri under a heat advisory from 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

On Hartfield Drive off Scott Boulevard, a construction crew for Kirby McKenzie Construction continued to put up the framework for a new home despite the heat. But the workers — and other Boone County residents — can expect relief this weekend. According to the National Weather Service, a cold front will move into mid-Missouri by Saturday.

New report details prison abuses

WASHINGTON — More than two dozen soldiers and contractors attached to a military intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq approved or took part in abuses of Iraqi detainees, an Army investigation has found in one of the most comprehensive looks to date at the scandal that damaged America’s image around the world.

Lightning strikes down power lines

A lightning strike severed a power line overhanging Providence Road between Green Meadows and Nifong at 3:05 p.m. Wednesday.

“The lightning hit pretty close several times around here,” said Wayne Wiles, a resident near the site of the strike.

Young at Heart

For most of us, turning 99 would be remarkable. But for 98-year-old Loren Reid, it hardly seems noteworthy.

 “I’m not celebrating my 99th birthday,” he said of today’s milestone. “I’ll just push on to 100.”

Advanced technology helps fight child pornography

On Feb. 11, 2003, detectives from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department raided the home of Columbia resident Frank W. Petering, seizing computers, floppy disks and documents. Officers confiscated an estimated 80,000 pornographic images depicting children, from infants to teenagers, engaged in sexual conduct.

On Monday, Petering was convicted of promoting child pornography in what is believed to be the largest case of its kind in county history. Petering’s apprehension offers a glimpse at how law enforcement is taking advantage of legal and technological advances to combat the exponential growth in the distribution of child pornography.

Labor mediator to seal contract for bus drivers

A federal labor mediator is expected to come to Columbia in the middle of next month to resolve an ongoing contract dispute between Columbia Public Schools’ bus drivers and First Student Inc., the area’s school bus service provider, officials said Wednesday.

The district’s school bus drivers, represented by Union Local 833, rejected a new contract proposal Aug. 5 with First Student Inc., the area’s school bus service provider. The old contract expired Aug. 1.

I-70 repairs set to start today

Starting today, for the next two months some east and westbound lanes of Interstate 70 will be closed from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. The closures will extend from the Callaway and Montgomery county line east of Columbia to the I-70 and U.S. 63 interchange as part of the Missouri Department of Transportation program to upgrade safety on the interstate. Closures won’t involve more than one lane at a time in each direction.

The construction is a continuation of the guard cable installation project, tentatively scheduled to be completed in summer of 2005. It involves placing guard cables down the center of the interstate to stop crossover traffic and prevent serious crashes.

Faculty seeks precise job details

MU’s Faculty Council will hear a report today that could impact the future work life of all non-regular faculty at the university.

More than half of all faculty members at MU are considered non-regular — in general, those without tenure. MU employs about 1,100 tenured and tenure track faculty and about 1,300 non-regular faculty, according to October 2003 figures from the MU News Bureau.

One man hospitalized in collision

Two cars collided on Forum Boulevard at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, closing traffic in both directions for 40 minutes. Jeffrey Oflynn was injured in the crash and taken to University Hospital. His condition was unknown Wednesday night, but he appeared to have suffered moderate injuries, Columbia police officer Alan Hulett said. Stephen Reichlin, the other driver, was not injured.

Driving southbound on Forum, Oflynn veered his black Ford Escort into the northbound lane, colliding head-on with Reichlin’s silver Dodge Dakota pickup.

New standardized test gives more options

As if choosing schools, writing essays, signing checks and getting recommendations isn’t enough, the high school graduating class of 2006 has another worry to consider when preparing for college: taking anywhere from one to three standardized tests just to compete.

In the spring of 2005, the College Board will debut a new, longer SAT test. This leaves many juniors in a quandary as to which test to take — the old SAT, the new SAT or the ACT. While the majority of colleges require only one test, providing scores from both tests can give students a competitive edge. Taking both tests also creates options for students who have not yet determined where they want to attend college.

MU’s policy on meningitis vaccine allows for waiver

MU sophomore Meghan Lahey got her $70 meningococcal vaccine Tuesday afternoon under the impression that failing to comply with a new vaccine policy would prevent her from registering for the winter 2005 semester.

“I don’t like the policy,” Lahey said. “I felt like I was forced to get the vaccine.”

New road director to be announced

JEFFERSON CITY — Former New Mexico transportation secretary Pete Rahn is expected to be named today as Missouri’s new transportation director, The Associated Press has learned.

Rahn’s selection was confirmed Wednesday by two Missouri state officials as well as a former colleague of Rahn’s in the New Mexico Department of Transportation, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity.

‘She misses the man she married’

Near the end, when the disease tightened its grip and transformed the man into a shell of his former self, Jim Leslie had become a stranger in his own life.

He had begun exhibiting signs of dementia in the late 1990s, and his condition worsened during the next few years. He was often irrational and belligerent, and in a later stage he crossed the line into violence. He forgot the identity of those closest to him, including his two granddaughters.