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Watercooler: Rios charged with murder

The public calls on them for protection. They are the enforcers of the law. They are the police. According to the Columbia Police Department’s motto, the goal of police officers is to “demonstrate integrity in all actions because freedom and justice” depend on it.

Kenneth Lay indicted

HOUSTON — Kenneth Lay, the former Enron Corp. chief executive who insisted he knew nothing about financial fraud at the energy trading giant, has been indicted on criminal charges, sources said on Wednesday.

The action caps a three-year investigation that has already seen several other executives charged and, in some cases, already sentenced to prison for their roles in the company’s scandalous collapse.

Coach denies NCAA claims

Former MU basketball coaching staff member Tony Harvey blames poor interviewing, few reliable documents and contradictory testimony as the basis of recruiting violation allegations leveled against him by the NCAA.

MU released a 57-page formal response Wednesday by Harvey, the former associate basketball coach who is one of the key players in the NCAA investigation. MU made its response to the NCAA investigation public with a 197-page response last week.

Lawmakers say military is overworked

WASHINGTON — In a bipartisan show of concern that the military is dangerously overworked, lawmakers said Wednesday the Pentagon is stretching troops to their limit and perhaps undermining the nation’s future force.

Amid worries the high level of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan could discourage potential new service members, Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., said it was not reassuring that most reserve components were falling below their recruiting goals for the year.

Senate hopefuls endorsed

Labor and professional groups are divided in their support for the two Democrats running for the 19th District seat in the Missouri Senate.

While 24th District State Rep. Chuck Graham’s work on several issues important to labor groups has resulted in 12 endorsements, former 23rd District State Rep. Tim Harlan’s focus on health-care concerns garnered the support of four such organizations.

Liquor sales in limbo at Landing

By Mike Cooper’s “Cuss Jar” on the cooler at Cooper’s Landing there’s a sign that reads “No Beer — until we obtain a new liquor license.”

The renewal of Cooper’s liquor license is currently under investigation, said Keith Fuller, State Supervisor of Missouri Alcohol and Tobacco Control.

Columbia arts win big

Concerts, festivals and other arts programming in Columbia received a boost from a Missouri Arts Council program that awarded $240,849 in grants to 15 non-profit organizations. The money given to Columbia represents almost one-eighth of the more than $2 million awarded statewide.

MAC gave 248 awards across the state in the first phase of grants for the 2005 fiscal year, which began July 1.

Downtown businesses go wireless

Downtown Columbia is getting up to speed with new wireless Internet access offered by Ilero, Inc.

Ilero began offering its iZone network services about a month ago, and already several businesses have signed up to make the service available to customers. With a network interface card, wireless computer owners can use the WiFi technology without a telephone or cable hookup.

School board will discuss healthy food options

A change for good food hasn’t been good for the bottom line at Columbia middle schools.

The Columbia School Board will hear a report on vending machines in schools at its retreat Friday. The meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. in the administration building, 1818 W. Worley St., and is open to the public but not for public comment.

Marchers honor victims of Middle East conflicts

Slowly and in single-file they walked together as in a funeral march. They proceeded behind a black coffin covered by a U.S. flag. They wore black and carried flowers, barely glancing up while honking cars blared in approval as they walked down the sidewalk.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks held a memorial Wednesday to mark the loss of 1,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirty marchers gathered outside the Military Recruiting Station at Broadway and Second Street and marched toward the Boone County Courthouse, carrying a makeshift coffin symbolizing the troops’ deaths and signs sporting slogans such as “Let’s work for peace.”

Clarification and correction

A Tuesday story about homeless teens said students must show proof of residence and custody before they can attend school. Missouri law, however, says homeless minors who are 16 or 17 are qualified for admission to high school or post-secondary school. Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent for Columbia Public Schools, said local high schools accept homeless students but investigate their backgrounds for documentation of past schools and to try to find their guardians.

Safe Haven

The Galgalos are among the 30,740 refugees who arrived in the U.S. in the past six months. They are political refugees from one of Africa’s poorest countries.

After Sept. 11, 2001, the number of refugees allowed into the United States decreased by more than half. However, during the past six months, the number of refugees being allowed to enter this country have already surpassed that of 2003.

Council vetoes parking plan

The Columbia City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night against a proposed ordinance to revise the Columbia City Code’s criteria for ground-level, uncovered off-street commercial parking lots, or “surface” parking lots.

The proposed ordinance said private or commercial surface parking areas for automobiles and light trucks must be located on the back of the property and no closer than 25 feet to a street.

Kerry will run with Edwards

When Sen. John Kerry announced on Tuesday that Sen. John Edwards would be his running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket, many people claimed they saw it coming. But few could claim they made the same prediction on Jan. 27.

However, Rick Hardy can.

Hardy, a former candidate for U.S. Congress who teaches political science at MU, accurately forecast Edward’s selection before Channel 17’s cameras.

‘Destination-level’ attraction considered

Picture Columbia as a vacation spot for families. Imagine visiting attractions on the same scale as Six Flags, Silver Dollar City or the Arch.

Sound far-fetched? Folks at the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau don’t think so, and they’re planning a July 19 public hearing to hear what the public thinks.

Hearing set today in climbing wall case

Boone County prosecutors today will ask for another chance to try Marcus Floyd for second-degree involuntary manslaughter in the climbing-wall death of a Jefferson City woman.

Meanwhile, at the 9 a.m. hearing, defense attorneys are expected to again ask Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton to acquit Floyd of the charges.

Ferguson’s attorney asks for new venue

In a change of venue hearing Tuesday for murder defendant Ryan Ferguson, attorneys brought up the possibility of bringing in a jury from another judicial circuit to hear the case.

Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane and defense attorney Scott McBride said they would discuss the issue before the next hearing, set for July 19.

Harvey responds to NCAA

Former MU associate basketball coach Tony Harvey said NCAA investigators did not fully develop evidence to prove he violated several bylaws, according to a document made public today.

Young and homeless

He sits on downtown benches, smiling and greeting people who walk past him. He’ll nod in acknowledgement or say, “Hey.” It’s obvious that he’s there.

But most of the time, no one seems to notice Anthony Wilson.

Diversity office cut in budget for schools

Public schools in Columbia will have fewer resources to address issues involving diversity and race in the coming school year.

The 2004-05 budget for Columbia Public Schools, passed by the school board on June 14, eliminates the district’s Office of Multicultural Programs. Superintendent Phyllis Chase said, “It’s not the job of one office to address multicultural education.

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