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Bill to update Sunshine Law

JEFFERSON CITY — Under a new bill proposed by Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, any public governmental meeting conducted through electronic communication — conference call, video conference, Internet chat or Internet message board — would have to be made accessible to the public.

Missouri’s open meetings and access to public records laws constitute what is known as the Sunshine Law. Harris’ bill aims at broadening the Sunshine Law.

Holden defends non-union fees

JEFFERSON CITY— Gov. Bob Holden vetoed legislation Wednesday that sought to block the collection of union bargaining fees from state employees who do not belong to unions.

The Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders have been sparring over unions’ role in state government since Holden signed an executive order granting collective bargaining rights to thousands of state workers in June 2001.

Entertaining imagination

The stage is set for children in this town — Columbia is rich with performing arts groups and classes for young people. The number of adults and children dedicated to furthering theater education hints that theater’s effect extends well beyond the curtain call.

Columbia’s new performing arts group, Performing Arts in Children’s Education, translates theater experiences into lessons that permanently influence a child’s personality and identity. Children, parents and child psychologists are lauding these groups for their positive lessons for participants.

Son says murder planned

Dressed in a white turtleneck, his shaggy brown hair grazing his eyes, 14-year-old Jeremiah Robertson looked as though he’d rather be playing video games, talking with friends, even doing homework — anywhere but on a witness stand in the Boone County courthouse testifying against his mother.

Lucille Faith Duncan, Robertson’s mother, is on trial for first-degree murder in connection with the July 5 shooting death of her ex-boyfriend, James Pruitt. Duncan’s brother, Gerald Alan Duncan, is also charged in the case. And Robertson, who spent the July 4 holiday with his mother and uncle, testified Wednesday that he saw the whole thing.

Soybean prices still climbing

Analysts were surprised last week when the price of soybeans jumped to $8.69 per bushel, the highest price since 1997 for the No. 1 cash crop in Missouri. They’re even more surprised this week.

Lower-than-expected yields in South America, where it’s harvest season, helped push the U.S. soybean price to $9.33 a bushel on Wednesday.

Boone County caucuses tonight

Boone County Democrats will gather for caucuses at various sites at 7 p.m. today to nominate delegates they hope will eventually attend the Democratic National Convention in Boston this July.

At each of the five caucus meetings, participants will be asked to split into groups based on their presidential candidate of choice.

Intelligent design bill irks faculty

MU’s Faculty Council today will consider a resolution that would ask the Missouri General Assembly to reject House Bill 911, which would require that theories of intelligent design and evolution be taught equally in public school classrooms.

The resolution says the theory of intelligent design — the idea that life was created by an intelligent being or beings — does not represent science in any form.

Sales tax extension sought

Although the city’s quarter-cent sales tax for capital improvements won’t expire for nearly two years, city staff and the Columbia City Council are gearing up to ask voters to extend it and perhaps to make half of it permanent.

The sales tax, which will raise a projected $3.91 million for the city this fiscal year, is scheduled to expire Dec. 31, 2005. Proceeds of the tax cover major capital expenses such as street and sidewalk construction, new buildings, fire trucks and other public safety equipment.

DNR eyes park land

Half of the Crane land might become part of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.

Mayor Darwin Hindman said Tuesday that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has talked with the city about the possibility of the DNR buying about half the estimated 317-acre property from Sue Crane. The land lies just southeast of Columbia and the 489-acre Philips farm. Such a purchase would have the potential to extend Rock Bridge State Park and create a buffer around environmentally sensitive Gans Creek.

Broad new slogan for Columbia

For the last decade, the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau has had a problem: Its old images — if they could be called that — never really stuck. Remember the bland “Columbia, Missouri” campaign? Or the “For all the things you are” slogan with its confusing kaleidoscope logo?

Probably not, bureau Executive Director Lorah Steiner said.

Gay marriage targeted in state Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers entered the national fray on gay marriage Tuesday, debating a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution defining marriage as “only between a man and a woman.”

The state Senate debate came on the same day that President Bush urged Congress to pass a similar amendment to the U.S. Constitution and send it to the states.

Measure would cut UM funding

A House committee voted to take $2.8 million from the University of Missouri system’s planned budget and using it for the Missouri public school aid formula.

Rep. Mark Wright, R-Springfield, who led the failed attempt to change the name of Southwest Missouri State University, introduced the measure.

The total UM system budget proposal for fiscal year 2005 is $388 million.

MO-X buys out Tiger Air Express

Less than five years after being founded MO-X has bought its rival Tiger Air Express. Two former employees of Tiger Air Express, Norm Ruebling and Brent Moore, formed MO-X.

The two men were opposed by Tiger Air Express when they first applied for a license with the Missouri Department of Motor Carrier and Railroad Safety.

The buyout had been in the works since January 2003, Ruebling said.

ARC marks

Mike Griggs calls it efflorescence. Others call it white crust. Either way it’s ugly, and it’s all over the Activity and Recreation Center.

The ARC has been open for just over a year but already the white, powdery substance is showing up in patches near the roof and near the ground on the brick sides of the building.

The race begins in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s election ballot started taking shape Tuesday, as scores of campaign veterans and political rookies filed for offices from U.S. Senate to governor to seats in the legislature.

Democrats moved closer to a contested nomination for governor, as State Auditor Claire McCaskill filed papers to challenge incumbent Bob Holden. The first-term governor filed later Tuesday, as did the best-known Republican candidate for Holden’s job, Secretary of State Matt Blunt.

Boy, 14, to testify against mother

Prosecutors are basing the homicide case against Lucille Duncan on the testimony of her son, 14-year-old Jeremiah Robertson.

Lucille Duncan is charged in Boone County Circuit Court with the first-degree murder of James Pruitt and one count of armed criminal action.

Highway plan riles residents

Cookies and coffee served by the Missouri Department of Transportation did little to calm a frustrated crowd of more than 120 people who attended a public hearing on the project to improve Missouri 763.

Some people who live or own businesses between Big Bear Boulevard and Brown School Road are unhappy with the 14-foot median and limited access the plan would create.

Officials voice confidence in Philips plans

Without further testing, it might be impossible to ensure development on the Philips farm will not damage the environmentally sensitive Gans Creek and Clear Creek watersheds, Columbia officials said Monday.

Nevertheless, Public Works Director Lowell Patterson said developer Elvin Sapp’s storm-water management plans are probably sufficient to protect the area.

School board hopefuls speak

Five candidates competing for two school board positions in the April 6 election began campaign conversations about student achievement and improvement in a forum Monday night at Hickman High School.

The Columbia Community Teachers Association and the Columbia Council of Parents and Teachers Association held the forum to introduce the candidates to the public.

‘Passion’ film offers opportunity for local rabbi

After a night of soul-searching, Rabbi Yossi Feintuch, the only rabbi in mid-Missouri, had a change of heart and accepted an invitation to see “The Passion of the Christ.”

After originally turning down the offer last week from the Rev. John Baker of the First Baptist Church for a group from the synagogue to attend the film with a group from Baker’s church, Feintuch has reconsidered. Although he was concerned that the film would perpetuate the stereotype that the Jews killed Jesus Christ, Feintuch began to realize the possible benefits of seeing the film to help open lines of communication with the Christian community.

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