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Democrats feel new energy

“Energy” was the buzzword of choice for Missouri Democrats celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Columbia.

That energy, however, didn’t come from the spirits that usually accompany the holiday.

Sapp plan for Philips approved by council

Don’t expect to be browsing at a store on a developed Philips farm any time soon.

The Columbia City Council voted 5-1 early Tuesday morning to approve developer Elvin Sapp’s annexation and zoning requests for the land. Sixth Ward Councilman Brian Ash cast the dissenting vote, and Fifth Ward Councilman John John, the real estate agent for the property, abstained.

Group protests proposed cuts to health care

A statewide coalition of health care providers warned that proposed cuts in Missouri’s mental health and social service budgets would endanger children, senior citizens and the state’s economy.

Missouri HealthVoice said Tuesday that proposals being considered by state lawmakers would remove 68,000 Missourians from Medicaid eligibility. The group also released the results of a statewide poll of residents that found strong opposition to cuts in government health programs for low-income children and the elderly.

Queer Empowerment

With anger and annoyance in his voice, Dustin Hampton, 19, read a monologue from the perspective of a gay man wishing to marry his boyfriend.

“I don’t want to be united with my boyfriend,” Hampton read from his audition sheet. “I want to be married to him. ... If this is war over a word, then just give me the word. Do you want a war over a word?”

Mid-Mo. officials discuss safety

Representatives from around mid-Missouri found that they all had things to work on when they met Tuesday to discuss security issues affecting their communities.

Boone County officials sponsored the meeting to discuss community readiness in mid-Missouri in the event of a disaster. Most agreed that not every county or city has the resources needed to respond.

Time for T-I-M-B-E-R

It’s that time of year when scores of Columbia homeowners will gaze into their yards to find large orange trucks and tree-cutting crews clearing the right of way beneath power lines.

The city each spring contracts with Asplundh Tree Expert Co. in an effort to keep trees from growing out of control and into electrical lines. City Water and Light Department officials are becoming even more diligent about tree trimming because of a recent report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that said trees growing along power lines contributed significantly to the power outage on the East Coast last August.

Column prompts rally for diversity

Over and over, MU students protesting a lack of racial and ethnic diversity on campus quoted the same old proverb: “This is the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The protest, which followed a racially charged column last week in MU Student News, drew more than 150 people Monday morning to the south steps of Jesse Hall.

Council stays up late over Philips

The Sierra Club knows how to rally supporters, but developer Elvin Sapp proved Monday he might be better at it.

About 150 Sapp supporters gathered Monday night as the City Council was set to vote on Sapp’s proposal to annex and zone the Philips farm, 489 acres just southeast of the city limits. Sapp wants to put a mix of homes, businesses and office buildings on the land, which if approved would be home to one of the largest developments in Boone County history.

Lawmakers tout marriage measures

JEFFERSON CITY — U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., spoke out Monday to bolster support for a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Missouri.

Akin joined state Sen. Sarah Steelman, R-Rolla, and state Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, in an afternoon news conference in the Capitol Rotunda. Both Steelman and Engler have sponsored measures that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

World of business

Exchange programs generally bring to mind images of high school and college students backpacking across foreign countries. But last month, a group of local business professionals traveled to India as part of a Rotary International exchange.

On Feb. 10, the last group member of the exchange program returned home from the group’s tour of Maharahatra, India.

Filling space

Old or new, commercial buildings in Columbia are still filling up, despite a four-year rise in office vacancy rates nationwide.

From the fourth quarter of 2000 through the third quarter of 2003, office vacancies around the nation doubled to more than 18 percent in suburban areas, according to a study by Los Angeles-based commercial real estate firm CD Richard Ellis. In the fourth quarter of 2003, the national rate fell back to 18 percent, its first drop in three years. This indicates that a turnaround may finally be in sight, much to the relief of real estate executives around the country.

Losses for MU seen in land-lease deal

A land appraisal ordered by Columbia hotel owners puts MU on the losing side of a land lease meant to fund a proposed performing arts center.

The appraisal says MU would lose a little more than $100,000 per year if it carried out its plan. MU officials and supporters of the lease said that the appraisal was irrelevant and that some of the figures are not accurate.

The art of cooking

Dishes clinked, stovetops flared and 10 anxious chefs in the heat of competition kept glancing at the clock at MU’s University Club kitchen Monday.

Two five-man teams of apprentice chefs from Johnson County Community College in suburban Kansas City and St. Louis Community College at Forest Park were locked in a competition held by the staff of the University Club and its executive chef, Daniel Pliska.

Meeting seeks to stop violence against women

Community members discussed what Columbia needs to prevent violence against women at a meeting Monday night.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services presented its plan to prevent violence against women so it can be evaluated by Columbia residents.

Philips tract will be developed

It's a done deal. The 489-acre Philips farm will be developed.

Despite some fervent public opposition over the past year, the farm's fate was sealed Monday night as the Columbia City Council voted 5-1 to approve Elvin Sapp's controversial annexation and zoning request.

A campaign for kids

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, many not-for-profit organizations have had trouble maintaining an adequate level of financing. But thanks to “Bowl for Kids’ Sake” and other programs like it, Big Brothers Big Sisters keeps rolling along.

“This is our biggest fund-raiser for the year,” said Rebecca Gordon, director of development and public relations for the group. “This is the 35th anniversary of our first bowling fund-raiser, and we’re on target to have our best event ever.”

Small-town life has gotten bigger

I was doing a walk-through in my garden the other day, checking for signs of new growth, when my neighbor came over for a visit. Abrupt fellow that he is, he announced right off the bat that now that the robins were signaling spring, he was through sitting around the house, listening to hour after hour of dismal national news. He was ready, he said, to return to the life of a normal, retired mid-Missourian, anxious to pursue his own interests. He was ready to garden, fish, take nature hikes and roam the countryside in search of antique furniture.

I certainly appreciated his attitude. I have a hard time dealing with people who stay glued to the tube year-round and never come up for air. It’s difficult finding a common thread on which to string a conversation. I think the national political polls are right. Eight months prior to the election, most people already have made up their minds about whom they will vote for and why. And while events can radically change the landscape in the meantime, I doubt that many voters will change their minds. Most of the people I know are absolutely polarized. They know exactly where they stand on issues such as joblessness, outsourcing, immigration, the situation in Iraq and the myriad other problems we face. Everything that can be said on both sides of the issues has already been said thousands of times. Most folks would just like to spend a few hours a day renewing their spirit, surrounded by peace and contentment.

Making sense of the merger mystery

Taylor Barnes loved geography so much that he thought his MU bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field were not enough. He would have stayed in Missouri for a doctoral program, but there weren’t any. So he jumped ship to the University of Illinois-Urbana. That was 30 years ago.

Today, Barnes is provost at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville and hopes that by merging the school with the University of Missouri system, Northwest will be able to offer some doctoral-level programs not available in the state — including geography.

Changing roles of journalism examined

In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, billowing clouds of smoke and ash rose above New York, then fell on silent streets like dark-gray snow. Across the nation, people gathered around televisions and read newspapers as they attempted to make sense of the chaos.

But by 2002, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s first State of the News Media report, released this morning, the outcry for credible journalism had subsided. The high degree of public trust in journalism inspired by news coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks fell to normal, lower levels, which had begun to decline in 1986 and continue to decline today, the report states.

State aims to stop violence against women

Lanell Younger Jackson of Columbia knows too well the cycle of emotional and physical abuse suffered by victims of domestic violence. It begins with words — “stupid,” “idiot,” “pathetic.” Then, as the words become louder and harsher, the grabbing and pushing starts.

“It got worse after he realized I was afraid of him,” Jackson said. “One thing led to another until he was beating me.”

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