Downtown canopies may be removed

Change is only a few mouse clicks away for those who consider the cement canopies in downtown Columbia an eyesore.

Chris Davis of Peckham & Wright Architects Inc. has photographed the stretch of businesses on the south side of Broadway and will digitally remove the canopies and add trees, streetlights and canvas awnings similar to the ones adorning the buildings on Ninth Street.

A labor for love

Conor Malaney leaves his job smelling like roses, but the cuts and scratches on his hands tell a different story. The 18-year-old is one of Valentine’s Day’s unknown heroes.

Malaney, a senior at Hickman High School, is among many part-time workers hired by florists around town to perform the not so glamorous, yet important, task of dethorning roses.

Report tweaks school funding

JEFFERSON CITY — A joint legislative committee has adopted a philosophy — but not a mechanism — for funding Missouri public schools.

The Joint Committee on Education Funding approved a report saying that future state aid distribution should be done on the basis of “student need.”

MLK park to receive upgrades

New Century Fund Inc. set out to raise $100,000 to restore Columbia’s Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. After surpassing that goal, it is now trying to determine what to do with the extra money.

The Parks and Recreation Department met with the project committee and the New Century Fund directors Thursday night at the Activity and Recreation Center to discuss possible plans for landscaping, lighting, and curbing in the areas of the MKT Trail surrounding the memorial.

Rock, water & microbes. . .but no people on Mars, yet

The extraordinary successes of the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have captured the imaginations of Missourians, including one who has played a major role in previous space explorations.

Charles Gehrke is a former MU professor and scientist who was commissioned by NASA to analyze rocks gathered during the Apollo moon missions. He sees the potential for the rovers to detect the microscopic life on Mars that he never found on the moon.

Missourian makes his mark

For Charles Gehrke, a single photograph represents a high point in his scientific career. The picture shows Gehrke, 30 years younger, smiling and wearing a lab coat. In his white-gloved hands he holds a test tube, which holds a tiny piece of the moon.

In the 1960s, Gehrke was working for the MU School of Agriculture, where he was using a process called gas chromatography to analyze soil samples. Gas chromatography is used to determine if amino acids are present in a substance.

Farming, high-tech

Terry Hilgedick owns a farm in Hartsburg and has been planting genetically modified seeds like YieldGuard corn and RoundUp Ready soybeans since they were introduced about nine years ago.

“Performance is the number one consideration when growing a commodity,” Hilgedick said. “You need to produce bushels per acre as cheaply as possible, and biotech crops allow you to do that.”

Restoration in the works

At the entrance of the MKT trail near Stadium Boulevard stands the second-largest memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., erected in 1993 as a reminder of his universal teachings for the hearts and minds of future generations.

Since its creation, the outdoor memorial has had to cope with the unmerciful effects of the elements.

Mo. treasurer sets sights on Washington

Missouri Treasurer Nancy Farmer stopped in Columbia on Thursday to formally announce her bid for the U.S. Senate.

“I sure never thought I’d be standing here today, asking the people of Missouri to send me to Washington,” Farmer told a crowd of about 40 supporters at the Ramada Inn. “But here I am, and that’s where I’m going.”

Schools to approve joint resolution

The University of Missouri system Board of Curators and its counterparts at Northwest Missouri State University meet today to approve a joint resolution that will help make the Maryville school the fifth campus in the system.

UM’s curators and Maryville’s Board of Regents have separately approved a 15-point memorandum of understanding, identifying the main concerns of bringing Northwest into the system. The curators voted on the memorandum unanimously at the end of January. The Northwest regents voted 7-1 in favor last week.

Rally to challenge new Medicare bill

J.R. Connell spends about $8,000 a year on prescription drugs for himself and his wife. But instead of buying the medicine in the United States, Connell saves thousands of dollars each year getting it in Canada. Or Mexico. Or Italy.

Under the new Medicare program, however, purchasing prescription drugs from other countries, where they can be up to 70 percent cheaper than in the United States, would be a federal crime.

Volunteers honored for helping Columbia

While living in Minneapolis, Crystal and Steve Rogers were active in their neighborhood association.

“People said that it would help to make them feel safer if they knew who their neighbors were,” Crystal Rogers said. “We wanted to create a community where people felt safe.”

Passing lane

The first thing Mr. C told me to do was relax.

This is the first thing he tells everyone to do when they get into his car. After teaching people to drive for 24 years, Mr. C has learned how to get new drivers to calm down.

Wild ride

Driving into oncoming traffic, jumping curbs and cutting off other motorists. It sounds like a chase scene from an action movie, but for Linda McBride, it’s sometimes just an ordinary day at the driver examination station.

For 15 years, McBride, driver examiner No. 3 for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, has administered road tests. For five years before that she conducted written driving tests as well as vision tests.

The Lone Ranger

Rosanna Arens was in the grocery business for 18 years. Five years ago, she made a midlife career change which ultimately led her to become Columbia’s first and only park ranger, a new position created by the city Parks and Recreation Department.

Workers return to 3M

Hoping to expand its business in the electronics and communications markets, 3M has rehired almost all of the manufacturing plant workers the company laid off last fall.

Marty Ingels, human resources manager for 3M, said all workers who were laid off were recalled, and most have chosen to return to work.

House nixes new name for SMSU

JEFFERSON CITY — Southwest Missouri State University’s name-change bid took a major step backward Wednesday when it was defeated in the House by a vote of 81-70.

Republicans — including one of the major House Republican leaders, Rep. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau — joined the opposition to the measure.

House committee recommends restrictions on liability lawsuit awards

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's House Judiciary Committee has sent to the full House a measure that would restrict liability lawsuit awards similar to the measure vetoed by the governor last year.

Bill would require photos for licenses

JEFFERSON CITY — Women would be prohibited from wearing veils for Missouri driver’s license photographs under a measure approved by the state Senate on Wednesday.

The bill would require all Missouri driver’s license applicants to have their photographs taken. Currently applicants may abstain for religious reasons.

Desegregation case's impact examined

On Wednesday night at the Gaines Oldham Black Culture Center, Dr. Phyllis Chase, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, addressed an audience of more than 50 people about the lingering impact of the 1954 Brown vs. The Topeka Board of Education court case.