Language complaints drop

Complaints about the English proficiency of faculty members in the University of Missouri system have dropped significantly in the past five years, according to a policy review to be presented today to the UM Board of Curators.

Stephen Lehmkuhle, UM vice president of academic affairs, said the policy passed in October 2000 requires department leaders to certify that all faculty members teaching required, non-foreign language undergraduate courses be proficient in English.

Chefs face-off tonight

Though both chefs would like to see victory in “Iron Chef 3: The Final Showdown” tonight at the Holiday Inn Select Expo Center, it is neither victory nor a title that brings them to compete.

The Expo Center will be transformed into “Kitchen Stadium” as Daniel Pliska, executive chef at the University Club, and Mark Prece, corporate chef at the American Italian Pasta Company, battle to see who will be Missouri’s Iron Chef.

Semitrailers, cars collide on freeway

The sun broke through a layer of clouds late Tuesday afternoon, but only after the weather took its toll on Columbia’s roads. Eight traffic accidents occurred within three hours, three of which involved injuries and multiple vehicles. Sgt. Timothy Moriarity, Traffic Unit Supervisor, said the heavy rain played a factor.

The most severe accident occurred just west of the Lake of the Woods Exit on Interstate 70. Moriarity and other members of the Traffic Unit were preparing for the Veterans Corporation Memorial Day’ Salute to Veterans air show at Columbia Regional Airport when they were called to the scene around 2:30 p.m., he said.

Continued rain expected

Bring the barbecue grill inside this Memorial Day. After already seeing 1.5 inches of rain in a 24-hour period last week, more rain and storms are predicted throughout this week and over the holiday weekend. This includes enough rainfall to bring the Missouri River above flood levels in Gasconade County and Hermann.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service say that while major flooding isn’t likely, it is possible if this weather pattern of rain and storms continues for the next few weeks.

Drive-in done in by storms

On its opening night in May 1952, Kenneth Mears and his date attended an open-air show at the Macon Drive-In Theater on the outskirts of town off U.S. 63. That night, the theater sponsored a raffle. Mears saved his ticket stub hoping he would win one of the prizes that included a set of fishing tackle.

The following week, Mears again took his date to the theater. When he went to the concession stand, he learned he had won the fishing tackle.

Residents raise issue of profiling with police

In an NAACP meeting billed as a public forum, Columbia residents aired concerns about racial profiling to Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm behind closed doors Tuesday night.

Members of the media were barred from the discussion after members of the organization’s executive board voted to close the session. The move to close the meeting frustrated some who participated in the forum.

Kayaking the Big Muddy

Hunkering in his tent on the banks of the Upper Missouri River, David Miller could hear the bull stamping and circling. It was June 2002, the first summer of his expedition, and Miller was 30 miles west of the Montana-North Dakota border.

“He was just as agitated as he could be,” Miller said of the bull, which retreated after about an hour. Miller attributes the positive outcome to the fact that his tent is blue.

Twisters strike rural areas

ALBANY, Mo. — Tornadoes that hit northwest Missouri and northern and eastern Kansas blew some houses off their foundations, tore up several businesses and damaged an Albany hospital.

But there were no reports of any deaths from Monday night’s storms.

Agency to hire 11 more staffers

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Boone County has been awarded $62,000 to hire 11 full-time and part-time AmeriCorps members.

Kim Highfill, program officer for the Missouri Community Service Commission in Jefferson City, which administered the grant, said the money comes from AmeriCorps and its supervising organization, the Corporation for National Community Service.

Woman, 83, pleads guilty to manslaughter

An 83-year-old Columbia woman pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of her 86-year-old husband.

Marjorie Franklin Leslie entered the plea in Boone County Circuit Court in connection with the Nov. 14 shooting of James R. Leslie, her husband of 53 years. An autopsy revealed that James Leslie suffered from a form of dementia, possibly caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Police continue search for suspect in assault

Columbia police completed a composite sketch Tuesday of the suspect in two burglaries and a sexual assault Saturday at the Valley Creek Subdivision.

In a statement, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department said the suspect is believed to be in his early 20s or late teens. Authorities believe he was wearing a light-colored, horizontal-striped pullover knit shirt, khaki shorts and sandals, the statement said.

No Child Act leaves ESL learners behind

When the parents of third-graders met in March to hear Columbia Public School District representatives talk about standardized testing at Paxton Keeley Elementary School, one mother’s concerns centered on one aspect most parents took for granted.

Seung Hee Han moved to Columbia from Korea last year with her daughter. Han worried that the language of Missouri’s standardized test was too hard and unfamiliar for her daughter, who doesn’t know English as well as other third-graders do.

Franz to sub as provost for Deaton

When MU Provost Brady Deaton becomes interim chancellor at MU this fall, campus administrator Lori Franz will step into Deaton’s shoes.

Deaton announced Monday that Franz — vice provost of undergraduate studies since 2002 — will serve as interim provost starting Sept. 1. That’s when Deaton will at least temporarily succeed Chancellor Richard Wallace, who is retiring. Franz was notified of her new position last week.

Soprano sings to raise tuition

Milagros Cruz only had to see one opera to know what she wanted to do with her life.

In her first semester at Syracuse University, she was required to attend “Otello” for a music history class.

Sprucing up Garth Avenue

As evidenced by the bulldozers and backhoes and a swath of fallen trees, the city’s effort to widen Garth Avenue is now under way.

The road is now closed to all traffic between North Garth Court and the entrance to the Bear Creek Trail parking lot, requiring residents living north of Bear Creek to use Blue Ridge Road and Missouri 763 to access areas south of their homes. Through traffic has also been restricted between Thurman Street and North Garth Court, as well as between Caribou Drive and the Bear Creek Trail parking lot.

Not much is insured

Finding health coverage continues to be a big hurdle for small businesses, despite the efforts of some legislators and employers. Since 2001, with health insurance premiums seeing double-digit increases, small businesses — defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as employing fewer than 100 people — have been the hardest hit. Legislative proposals — state and federal — have had mixed results and have not succeeded in resolving the growing crisis. Of the 43.5 million uninsured Americans, more than 16 million own, work for, or are dependent in some way on small businesses, according to the 2002 Census.

Iraq escort duty draws complaints

KANSAS CITY — Members of a Missouri National Guard unit say guarding convoys for private contractors in Iraq puts them at greater risk than when they were hauling military supplies for the Army.

The 150-member 1221st Transportation Company has been reassigned from its hauling duties to providing security for convoys operated by defense contractor Kellog Brown & Root.

Tornadoes cut across Nebraska

HALLAM, Neb. — More than a dozen tornadoes swept across southern Nebraska, killing at least one person and prompting Gov. Mike Johanns to declare a state of emergency.

Johanns confirmed the death Sunday before he was taken by military helicopter to tour the town of Hallam, where every home was damaged or destroyed, vehicles were flipped and trees lay in the streets.

Pushing onward for racial equality

The information coming from the examination of racial progress 50 years after the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision has not produced many surprises. Racial equality remains as elusive as it has always been in the areas of employment, housing and, still in many cases, education.

Among other things, we have learned from a study by the Education Trust, an independent nonprofit organization, schools populated primarily by minorities are more likely to have less qualified and less experienced teachers. This, of course, leads to a predictable outcome. Overall, minority students, by the time they reach eighth grade, tend to be “three years behind other students.”

City Council plans strategy for 2005

OSAGE BEACH — During brief breaks from the intensive work sessions at its annual retreat this weekend, Columbia City Council members held impromptu talks with department heads and even cooled off with water-gun fights.

Holding the retreat outside Columbia allows the council members to dedicate their time and undivided attention to city business. Though there was some opportunity for play and relaxation, it was a working weekend. All totaled, the council and staff spent about 14 hours discussing city business.