First-day adventures

When MU junior Dave Gasparovic showed up at the Student Recreation Center for his shift at 10 a.m. Monday, the power was down. Employees abandoned their jobs answering phones or monitoring weight room activity to stand at the door and turn away students.

“We’ve been relegated to bouncers,” Gasparovic said, “although most people have been pretty understanding.”

Gloom out of place on first day of school

Whipping rain and dark clouds failed to stop thousands of Columbia children from attending the first day of school Monday.

While official numbers won’t be available until late next month, unofficial statistics from the Columbia Public Schools show that 16,404 children attended school the first day, which is 193 more than last year.

Vets are fourth of Columbia homeless

Tony Mooneyham said he went to hell and came back to a place where no one wanted anything to do with him.

He served as an infantryman in the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1970.

Hypertension afflicts 1 in 3 Americans

DALLAS — As Americans get older and fatter, the number of adults with high blood pressure has climbed to almost one in three over the past decade, putting more people at risk of a stroke, heart attack or kidney failure, government researchers said Monday.

A little more than a decade ago, the number was closer to one in four. And two decades ago, it was falling. But thenthe obesity surge hit in the late ’80s.

Tolerance, coffee and rock ‘n’ roll at Woodcrest

The lights go dim. The curtains part. The drummer beats three times to signal the start of the show, and the crowd is on its feet.

This isn’t a rock show. This is Woodcrest Chapel, and theatrical performances are the norm here. They are also its formula for growth.

MU enrollment reaches historic high

MU announced the largest first-day enrollment in its history Monday with 27,088 students. That’s a 1.1 percent increase in the student body from last year. This includes a 2.7 percent increase in the number of new minority students on campus.

This growth — which officials must base on voluntary reporting by students — brings the total reported minority enrollment to 530.

College commons comes alive

When classes started Monday at Columbia College, everyone seemed energized about something, but the hub of activity was inside the new commons area.

“I’m excited to see how this building is going to change the culture of our campus,” said Faye Burchard, dean of Campus Life. “The students will have more interaction between themselves and with the faculty.”

Community starts class with a roar

They slowly enter the room with stealth and trepidation. Some are foreign to this new environment. Some have traveled here before and quickly mark their territory. Within seconds, they recognize the presence of others around them and their primal instincts kick in. A loud roar erupts in the middle of the classroom.

No, this is not an exhibit at the Saint Louis Zoo. It is a classroom that has come alive because the students have returned for the new school year. This classroom belongs to Patty Avery, a math teacher at Rock Bridge High School.

Rios charged in civil suit over car accident

Former Columbia police officer Steven Rios, awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges in the death of MU student Jesse Valencia, has been named a defendant in a civil suit concerning a 2003 traffic accident.

The lawsuit, which seeks in excess of $25,000 against Rios and his former employer, the Columbia Police Department, was filed Aug. 17 by Laci Harvey on behalf of her 6-year-old son, Terrence.

Road trip driven by desire to register swing voters

Bobby Schrautemeier has never voted before, but the 19-year-old MU communications student has strong views about the coming election.

“I am not really a huge fan of Kerry, but I’ll vote for anyone but Bush,” Schrautemeier said. “I think that Kerry has more experience with the military than Bush does, and I like that he’s criticizing what our country has done thus far and is looking for a way to bring our troops home as soon as possible.”

Critics question need for frequent textbook updates

“Optimus magister bonus liber,” goes the Latin adage: “The best teacher is a good book.” For generations of modern-day Latin students, that book has been “Wheelock’s Latin.”

But as the latest generation of students buying their Wheelocks in the coming weeks, they will discover a textbook that looks different from the original, densely packed tome that Frederic Wheelock sketched out a half-century ago. There are photographs, maps and eye-pleasing layouts. Exercises reflect the latest pedagogical theory. Readings feature fewer battlefield dispatches and more emphasis on women and everyday life. There is even a dirty poem by Catullus.

Engineering school gets $1 million grant to launch info technology program

MU engineering students interested in computer science will soon have a third option for a degree program. SBC Communications announced this afternoon it will give $1 million to the MU College of Engineering over the next five years to pay for a new information technology studies program.

Bell rings on school year

As parents frantically search for back-to-school supplies, one of the most popular and necessary items is a backpack. What some parents fail to realize, however, is that the wrong backpack could cause their child harm.

Backpacks are the most frequently used method of carrying school supplies, but if they are worn improperly or are too heavy, a child will experience strain.

GOP trio ready to represent mid-Mo.

Crowds. Traffic. Long days. Late nights. Heavy security concerns. Three Boone County Republicans can’t wait.

Denna Huett, Brad Barondeau, and Sherri Shumard are preparing to travel to the party’s national convention in New York. Missouri will be represented by 57 delegates and 54 alternates at the event from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.

Impact of overtime rules yet to be seen

WASHINGTON — Paychecks could surge or shrink for a few or for millions of workers across the country starting today, when sweeping changes to the nation’s overtime pay rules take effect.

There is little agreement by the Bush administration, employer groups, labor experts and others on how many workers will gain or lose the right to overtime pay under the new rules in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Hickman, Rock Bridge grads drawn to MU

For children born and bred in Tiger Country, wearing black and gold and chanting Mizzou spirit cheers tends to come naturally.

Jason Christian has lived in Columbia all of his 20 years. MU was the only college option he pursued.

Too many people live without hope

Considering the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Charley across Florida, I’ve dropped my complaints about the inclement weather that has visited Missouri over the past weeks. All and all, with the continuing war in Iraq, the fluctuating economy and the distasteful political environment, it really has not been a fun summer, even at a personal level. Maybe there really is something in the air as one of my neighbors claims. Whatever it is, I hope it goes away peacefully.

I have always been grateful for the fact that I have a busy schedule, but never more so than over the past few weeks. When you love your work, it makes for a great place to escape when you find yourself constantly encountering things over which you have no control.

Candidates bank on rural Missouri

SEDALIA — Kiwi Popyk never paid much attention to politics. But the public-school employee says that all changed when she attended a rally at Sedalia’s old train depot, starring the Democratic national ticket.

With their recent campaign stops in rural areas that went solidly for President Bush as he carried Missouri in 2000, Popyk said, “John Kerry and John Edwards showed they cared about country folks in Missouri.”

FBI agents interview activists

An investigation that led FBI agents to the doors of several Columbia residents has yet to be resolved.

“I believe our investigation is still open,” Jeff Lanza, spokesman for Kansas City’s FBI office, said Friday. “Whether or not we do any more interviews is still undecided.”

A Fair Business

SEDALIA — Some kids threaten it after forced consumption of brussels sprouts, broccoli or a boring lecture about a grade card. Some might even go so far as to disappear for a couple of days, just to make their parents relieved upon their return.

Only a small number, though, carries through with the life-changing pilgrimage into a world turned upside down. It’s a world of late bedtimes, all-day play, cotton candy and funnel cakes. It is the world of the carnival.