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.

No time, money to keep bridge

Boonville is about 10 years too late and several million dollars short to save the Union Pacific Bridge over the Missouri River.

Around 30 people, including Boonville and Columbia city officials, the United States Coast Guard, Union Pacific Railroad and community members, gathered in historic Turner Hall on Thursday to discuss the fate of the Boonville Bridge.

Bus drivers list details of contract

Officials from Union Local 833, representing bus drivers for Columbia Public Schools, released more details Thursday about the group’s new contract with First Student Inc., which provides school bus service to the area.

Hourly pay increases for union members will be between 35 cents to $2 more per hour.

State can’t find old computers

JEFFERSON CITY — There is no way of knowing where thousands of redistributed state computers containing sensitive information have ended up, State Auditor Claire McCaskill said during a news conference Thursday in her Capitol office.

An audit conducted in May and June found that government computers set to be redistributed were not properly cleared of personal information, including Social Security numbers, bank records, computer network access information and medical data.

Weapons found in campus apartment

University police entered the campus apartment of an MU student Tuesday and confiscated a .50-caliber black powder rifle and a modified AK-47. Officers later returned and removed a Smith & Wesson revolver and several swords.

No charges have been filed against the student, Stephen Markley, 45, a junior geography major, said MU police Capt. Brian Weimer. The university’s student handbook, the M-Book, states that firearms, explosives or ammunition cannot be brought into university-supervised housing, which is open to inspection by campus officials. Students must register and store their weapons and ammunition with MU police, the policy states.

Bus drivers’ union settles contract

As the rain poured down last night, bus drivers from Union Local 833 met to vote on the latest contract proposal from First Student Inc., the area’s school bus provider. After two hours of heated debate, local 833 business agent Mark Bruemmer emerged from the closed meeting to announce the contract passed in a 92-33 vote and that bus drivers will get a raise.

“We’ve got a contract,” he said. “It’s done.”

March of Discipline

MEXICO, Mo. — Andrew Cruzen and Evan Spaulding awake each morning to the sounds of a bugle and footsteps marching in formation to the breakfast table.

Cruzen and Spaulding, both 17, are among a record 272 cadets who began classes last week at the Missouri Military Academy in Mexico. As seniors, the two say they are excited about their futures and nostalgic about the past three years at the military school. And while their paths to the 116-year-old academy were different, their reasons for staying in school there are the same.

Cher’s ‘Farewell’ tour to open MU’s new arena

Paige Sports Arena will host Cher and the Village People as the venue’s first concert, representatives from MU’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Wednesday. The show, set for Nov. 11, will kick off a series of big-name acts aimed at bringing diversity and quality entertainment to Mid-Missouri, officials said.

“This is the biggest event in this category in Columbia in a long, long time,” said Mike Alden, director of athletics. He compared the concert to the Rolling Stones’ Voodoo Lounge Tour of 1994.

Effort to save lawsuit limits blocked

JEFFERSON CITY — On a near party-line vote, the Missouri Senate sustained Gov. Bob Holden’s veto of a bill to impose restrictions on lawsuits against home builders.

The measure fell two votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary for an override: 21 senators favored the override, 11 opposed it, and two were absent.

Gubernatorial candidate talks to MU Republicans

Matt Blunt described Missouri as a state with “tremendous potential” on Wednesday night, as he addressed a full house of MU College Republicans on the MU campus.

Blunt spoke only briefly about his platform in the gubernatorial race and spent most of his time answering questions from his young supporters. His address was heavily laced with promises of delivering tangible results.

Auditor: Private files still on old computers

JEFFERSON CITY — Sensitive materials may be accessible to the public on computers donated by the state government, according to a report released Wednesday by the state auditor’s office.

According to the report, information erased from 37 of 56 computers could be accessed using software easily available. Auditors were able to retrieve sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, bank account information and medical data from 23 of the 37 computers.