Highway patrol lacks troopers

ST. JOSEPH — A lack of troopers is forcing Missouri State Highway Patrol offices across the state to use high-ranking officers on patrol duty and disband some special operations teams.

The patrol blames the shortage on the lagging economy, relatively low pay for troopers, a lack of recruits and losing some troopers to military duty.

AFL-CIO kicks off bus tour for jobless

The “Show Us the Jobs” cross-country bus tour begins today with a rally to highlight the job crisis in America. The tour is sponsored by the AFL-CIO and Working America, an affiliate.

Among the concerns to be addressed by the AFL-CIO are health care for the unemployed, greater personal hardship as a result of poverty and the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries.

Firefighters laud entry system

An emergency entry system is being praised for its role in allowing firefighters to extinguish a three-alarm fire at the USDA Research Center on the MU campus late Monday.

Fire officials are crediting the system with helping them contain the fire on South Providence Road, which prevented further damage to the center and surrounding buildings.

Diesel price could drive up costs

For drivers, rising gas prices can be a financial pain, but jumps in prices at the pump could hurt consumers in more ways than one.

If oil prices continue to stay at about $38 a barrel, diesel prices will remain high, experts say. In response, shipping and transportation companies are passing the additional cost on to consumers, according to Jake Bournazian, the economist for the Energy Information Administration, a branch of the Department of Energy.

Rules of the road

On a spring-like afternoon in February, Columbia police officer Lyn Woolford sits in a patrol car off Business Loop 70, watching traffic stream out of the Hickman High School parking lot.

A woman picking up her daughter in a white station wagon pulls into the street and, directly in front of a sign that reads “No U-Turn,” makes a U-turn. Woolford pulls out behind the woman and waits for her to make a left onto Providence Road before firing up his lights. After running the woman’s driver license through a computerized database using a laptop mounted on the patrol car’s dashboard, Woolford issues a citation for the violation.

Rec fee delayed for one semester

Matt Sokoloff found an error in MU fees that will save students more than $2.1 million.

In 2001, students voted to implement a $75-per-semester fee that would pay to update the campus recreational facilities to include more fitness and aquatic space, locker rooms and air conditioning. The plan is to combine Brewer Fieldhouse, the current student recreational center, with Rothwell Gymnasium.

Local students count victories

You might call it a calculated win: At a math competition on Saturday, a team of Columbia middle school students bested every other team in the state.

Students from the West Junior High School Mathcounts team beat out 30 other middle school teams, winning the state championship in Rolla.

Top 'er off

The MU Athletic Department began decorating for the holiday season a little early this year. With nine months until Christmas, a 3-foot tall evergreen tree has been placed atop the 2,006 tons of steel that form the skeleton of the new MU basketball arena.

In a traditional topping out ceremony, athletic department employees and supporters joined officials from J.E. Dunn Inc. to commemorate the success of the $75 million construction project to give the Tigers a new home. The Paige Sports Arena, whose name was formally announced Friday, will house both men’s and women’s basketball beginning in the fall. The arena, which will have a seating capacity of 15,061, will include support facilities, office space and 26 private suites.

Candidates clash on wards

Mayoral candidates Darwin Hindman and John Clark disagree about whether the city ought to have more wards.

Hindman, the incumbent who is seeking a record fourth term in the April 6 election, thinks the current size of the City Council is adequate, but challenger Clark believes the city ought to study whether more wards are necessary.

Budget experts to leave Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — When the two budget leaders in Missouri’s Senate first came to the General Assembly decades ago, they were far apart — both geographically and philosophically.

Now, the two longest-serving members of the Missouri legislature are heralded by colleagues and lobbyists as models for bi-partisan cooperation — as well as targets of private criticism within their own parties.

Practicing what they teach

JEFFERSON CITY — Rep. Barbara Fraser, D-University City, gets bombarded by lobbyists every day. But this time, during a Wednesday morning session in late February, was different.

Fraser was handed a business card by one of the thousands of lobbyists and special interest advocates who converge on the statehouse.

Candidate wants to sell Beanie Babies to raise funds

Columbia Democrat Lara Underwood was hoping to capitalize on the Ty Beanie Baby fad by auctioning 12 Democratic donkeys and one Republican elephant through an online service.

Unfortunately, a little bean counting by the Missouri Ethics Commission threw a monkey wrench into the General Assembly candidate’s plans.

Stewart could still make society better

The jury is still out among my female friends as to whether or not Martha Stewart wound up in court simply because she was a successful woman or truly guilty of committing a crime. And it is true that there are a lot of corporate scoundrels who have robbed investors of billions who are still running around loose. Nevertheless, Stewart got caught, the prosecutors were able to make their case, and she was convicted. Undoubtedly, there are thousands of felons behind bars who could also claim that others as guilty as they were are still at large.

I’ve heard some women say they feel betrayed by Martha. They seem to believe that she seduced them by her pseudo-perfectionism into thinking that they too could somehow become goddesses of housewifery and all things domestic. I always saw her as a super saleswoman, a captain of capitalism and a not-very-nice person.

War protest marches on

Samantha Winkler’s voice broke and her blue eyes teared as she summoned the courage to read the speech she had prepared earlier in the morning to a silent crowd of several hundred people gathered in Courthouse Square to observe the one-year anniversary of the U.S. war in Iraq.

Winkler, 18, a senior at Hickman High School, used the occasion to remember her cousin, Sam Cox, of Kansas City, who died eight months ago in Iraq in what the government called a helicopter accident.

Interest in enlisting dips

It wasn’t difficult for Sgt. Brian Boss to recruit for the Missouri National Guard — until the first bombs fell on Baghdad last March.

He first noticed a change during his monthly visits to Columbia high schools, where he would set up a display table in the lunchroom to attract new recruits.

New Sunday Missourian

Dear Reader:

Roy Robinson woke me from my arrogance last week.

I saw Roy at church. The Downtown Optimists will bring a Russian delegation of medical clinic managers to Columbia later this spring, and Roy wanted me to know about it. I was quick to dismiss – after all, I figured, Columbia probably hosts international visitors every week. I was wrong.

Owner sued over climbing death at game

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in the case of a climbing wall accident last July.

David Moen, representing Kathleen Schmitz, and Thomas Riley, representing Craig Ewing, filed the lawsuit Friday afternoon in the Boone County Circuit Court.

Beyond backyard burgers

Jena Bricker is one lucky woman.

  Her boyfriend, Ben Randolph, is one of five finalists picked from thousands of entrants in a nationwide contest to find America’s best amateur griller.

Hallsville sees no rush on gun permits

Hallsville Police Chief Pete Herring printed almost 2,000 conceal-and-carry gun applications, but there was little or no waiting on Saturday, the second day people could apply at the police department for the permits.

Only 13 applicants forked over the $100 fee and submitted to fingerprints and background checks Saturday.”There is no big and wild rush,” Herring said.

The age of high-tech headaches

I love all the techno-toys that the 21st century has to offer. That is, until something goes wrong, then I pine for the good old days. I’ve learned the hard way (it took more than once) to save my copy when writing an article so I don’t lose it if the computer crashes.

And I know that my cell phone needs to be recharged if I don’t want it to go dead in the middle of a conversation. But it’s the things I have no control over that really bug me.