Questions of character

When Michael Cooper decided to turn his home into a business on an acre of scenic Missouri River property in 1987, he had fairly modest ambitions. He envisioned a simple place where fishermen could gather for boat club meetings and buy bait and cold beer.

Cooper didn’t stop at a clubhouse. Working closely with government agencies, he obtained grants to add gas services, build a boat dock and put in a new stairway. He opened a campground, added Thai and barbecue kitchens and provided a weekend venue where local bands could play as the sun set along the river.

More time sought to save bridge

The state attorney general’s office is trying to buy more time for a historic railroad bridge in Boonville that is slated for demolition.

Attorney General Jay Nixon sent a letter Friday to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking to extend the period for public comment until Nov. 18. The period was slated to end at 5 p.m. Friday.

Council to vote on proposed utilities increase for 2005

Columbia residents will have a final chance to speak on proposed utility rate hikes when the city council meets Monday to vote on the fiscal 2005 budget.

The average residential bill for city utilities could increase by $5.90 per month due to higher rates for electric, water and sewer services, said City Manager Ray Beck at a Friday press conference.

Law: Council e-mail is a public record

An ordinance introduced to the City Council would amend the city’s open records and meetings statute, prohibiting discussion of city business through group e-mails, city attorney Fred Boeckmann said.

Boeckmann said he has recommended that city officials refrain from sending group e-mails to one another to discuss business because the city does not have the technology to allow open access to those discussions.

Skill at the flip of a switch

Indiana Jones has nothing on Chris Camp.

The whip cracker and entertainer from Springfield, Ill., has 20 years of experience and three awards under his ammunition-studded belt. At the 27th annual Heritage Festival on Saturday, Camp entertained the crowd with his speed and precision tricks while educating them in the history of whips and whip cracking.

Celebrating feminine flair

Last fall, David White began thinking about how, in today’s global political climate, women’s ideas, images, sounds and words needed to be seen and heard.

For years, White, executive director of the Missouri Symphony Society and Missouri Theatre, has been producing a summer music festival. White presented his idea of a women’s art festival to more than a half-dozen local artists, who didn’t need much persuading.

City to buy radar signs for schools

Columbia Public Works is planning to purchase and install radar signs near four city schools with the goal of lowering average speeds in school zones.

The signs, called speed display boards, are non-recording radar units. The City Council must approve the expense as part of its 2005 budget. A vote is expected this week.

Survey says more jobs are coming to midstate

The fourth quarter of 2004 could be a good time to look for a job in Central Missouri, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey released last week.

The survey, conducted each quarter to predict hiring and firing throughout the country, found that 40 percent of the companies interviewed said they were planning to add workers, compared to 31 percent a year ago.

'I like to see things clean'

The hallway at Oakland Junior High School is partially lit by fluorescent bulbs that hum over stacks of chairs and tables. On this August day, the building has that chalky school smell with a whiff of generic cleaning products — taking you back to the days when you roamed halls just like these.

This is where Bill Hawthorne has worked for 10 years. As he tours Oakland, Hawthorne talks about his summer projects — waxing the linoleum floors and cleaning the carpets. The furniture must be moved out of each room so the floors can be properly cleaned.

Women artists come together to be appreciated

Sutu’s Sirens’ first practice was held in Sutu Forté’s living room, where a drum set, a stand-up bass and a couple of guitars were crammed among the furniture.

On this recent Wednesday evening, the Sirens were still unsure of how their collaboration will sound. The band — pianist Forté, bassist Linda Bott, saxophonist Nancy Dietz and drummer Aubrey Van Hoose — had never performed together.

It’s possible to overload on grandchildren

As I walked slowly down the stairs this morning, I already had a topic for this week’s column. Then when I turned on the light in the kitchen and viewed the disaster area, I knew I had to change the theme. Every two feet my slippers stuck to some gooey concoction on the floor. The counters, table and island were loaded with half-empty cartons of food. I felt like I’d been run over by a two-ton truck and I barely had enough energy to make the coffee. When I let the dogs out, I gazed upon my deck. The table was greasy with fingerprints. There were paper cups on the ground and bottles sitting here and there. No, I didn’t have a wild party over the weekend; I baby-sat four of my grandchildren.

My youngest son and his wife had planned a weekend with friends sans children six months ago. Then at the last minute, the baby sitter had a family emergency and had to cancel. I had already asked another son, if Papa and I could have his two sons for the weekend, because we seldom get to see them. I figured I could handle the situation. The 10-year-old was no problem, the 5-year-old could “help,” and the two youngest, ages 3 and 2½ , could get to know each other.

High school seniors weigh advantages of applying early for college

For Katie Bauer, getting an early start is habitual.

The Rock Bridge High student wakes at 5:15 a.m. to catch an aerobics class before school. She arrives at appointments 10 minutes ahead of time. She took the SAT 10 months prior to any college application deadline.

Gifts cut from chancellors’ pay

University of Missouri system President Elson Floyd announced Thursday that chancellors’ salaries in this fiscal year will be paid entirely out of general operating funds. Last year, part of their salaries was paid with private donations.

Under last year’s system, the majority of each chancellor’s $250,000 salary was paid out of the general operating budget. Private donations were used to pay the remainder of the salaries for the chancellors at University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of Missouri-Rolla and University of Missouri-Kansas City. At MU, the remainder of Chancellor Richard Wallace’s salary was paid with gift funds from unspecified sources.

Fusing sciences at MU

The sidewalk in front of the new MU Life Sciences Center is shaped like a DNA helix, an apt symbol of the university’s high hopes to meld scientific inquiry with technological innovation.

For Roger Mitchell, dean emeritus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, today’s dedication ceremony at the center is an event nearly a quarter-century in the making.

The path to reformation

It’s been an uplifting week for eight inmates of Boonville Correctional Center who have found inspiration in their work on a new shelter house for the town park in this Howard County town.

The men’s work is part the 10th annual Boonslick Area Community Service Project, sponsored by the National Organization of Prison Fellowship, to build a shelter house and two new picnic tables for New Franklin City Park. The project, part of the Missouri Department of Corrections’ Restorative Justice Program, is led by members of the Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church in Boonville.

City wants Wal-Mart to pay for spill

City officials expect to recover from Wal-Mart the $4,100 it cost to clean up a sewage spill into Hinkson Creek that happened when grease from the Conley Road store blocked a city sewer line in early August.

The city issued a notice of violation to Wal-Mart in late August, expressing its intent to recover the costs of the cleanup and any fines levied by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said Dennie Pendergrass, chief of operations for the Public Works Department.

New bus routes booming

City buses are running almost 100 percent on time since Columbia Transit changed its bus routes in June, a transit official said. Also, the number of passengers riding the buses continues to surpass figures from last year.

According to transit statistics, 3,388 more riders used the fixed-route bus system through August than the 110,852 riders who rode the buses during the same three-month period last year.

Commission names space-needs group

The Boone County Commission has appointed a Space Needs Task Force to evaluate the commission's $15 million proposal to expand county offices.

The commission wants to finish the third floor of the Boone County Government Center, add two stories to the courthouse and construct a new office building to replace the Johnson Building at 601 E. Walnut St. The proposal, which commissioners hope to fund through a bond issue and property-tax increase, could appear on the April 2005 ballot.

Nobel Prize winner speaks, predicts draft’s reinstatement

Bobby Muller co-founded several internationally prominent organizations, included the Vietnam Veterans of America and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. The latter won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. Thursday night he spoke to an audience of 19 at Waters Auditorium at MU under the banner of his most recent creation, the Alliance for Security.

Muller’s speech, the first in his “Tour of Duty” lecture tour of college campuses, predicted the return of the military draft to America.

Portrait of Passion

Two of Don Choate’s passions — art and activism — come together this month in his “Multimedium” exhibit at Montminy Gallery.

The exhibit, which continues through Sept. 26, features portraits of people the artist met during the 16 years he worked at Central Missouri Food Bank. It also includes sculptures and woodworks.