Ashcroft returns to Jefferson City

JEFFERSON CITY — U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft returned to the state capital Wednesday for the first time since he joined the Bush administration in 2001.

Ashcroft took his staff on a surprise tour of the Missouri Capitol while he was in town to speak to the state’s business leaders.

On the coming of spring

Spring cannot be found through the wisdom of a groundhog, a creature that lives in the cold, dark, stale air of a hidden lair. To find hope of winter's passing, we must look beyond feet caked with cinder-stained slush and roadside sand. Hope is above in the sunlight, the blossoms of trees and the voices of birds. Creatures of flight bring us the renewed sounds of spring's refreshing warmth and beauty.

Gliding grace

Thirteen-year-old Ali Kitchen of Columbia huddled in the back seat of her mother’s car, wrapped in an extra blanket and hunched over to produce more body heat.

“When it’s cold here, it’s cold in the ice arena,” Ali said. Her hands pulled up under the fringes of the blanket.

Mother urges insurance coverage for hearing impaired children

JEFFERSON CITY - Jody Pacheco, mother of 7-year-old Augustine and 5-year-old Wayne, both with a hearing loss, testified Tuesday in favor of a bill aimed at providing insurance coverage for hearing aids to children up to age 19.

Read Arranging

Rachel Brekhus has made a top cut.

A reference librarian at MU’s Ellis Library, she and other reference staff have spent the past months creating a list of reference books they think should make the move into the library’s new James B. Nutter Sr. Family Information Commons, under construction now and scheduled to open in the fall. The commons will replace the library’s reference section as a space for students to gather and share information.

Bill would not decrease school aid

JEFFERSON CITY — Monday’s rally for more public school money was greeted Tuesday by a House bill that would effectively hold steady state aid distribution to public schools.

The House Committee on Education Appropriation heard a plan Tuesday that calls for funding public schools at almost exactly the same levels they received during the 2002-03 school year.

Commission, county clash over sign rules

Boone County officials have worked off and on for years to establish new sign restrictions. So when the Boone County Commission shot down a proposal from the county Planning and Zoning Commission, one can imagine the frustration that followed.

Boone County Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin cited last-minute opposition as the reason he and his fellow county commissioners declined to act on the proposed regulations late last year.

CDC director touts disease awareness in lecture at MU

When it comes to communicating about disease, there is a thin line between informing the public and creating a panic. With recent illnesses such as mad cow disease and SARS, public exposure to disease information has become critical.

It is Glen Nowak’s job to keep disease communication in perspective, and increase public awareness by helping the media stay focused.

Drug law angers groups

Members of Columbia’s Grass Roots Organizing and a group called the Concerned Citizens of Missouri voiced displeasure to a representative of Sen. Kit Bond, R-MO., on Tuesday.

The groups were upset with a new Medicare prescription drug law set to take effect next month. They presented a petition against the law to the representative at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

V-Week aims to enlighten

Organizations on the MU campus aim to educate on issues ranging from sexual-health to self-defense as part of V-Week. The V stands for vagina, victory and Valentine.

The week will culminate in two productions of “The Vagina Monologues.”

No one injured in house fire

No one was injured by a house fire at 2233 Lakeland Drive on Tuesday evening. Tim Blackford, the renter, and two of his stepdaughters, Kirstin Baker, 14, and Kasey Hull, 12, were in the home when the fire started.

Kirstin called 911 on Blackford’s cell phone, and the call was received at 5:18 p.m., Boone County Fire Protection District Chief Steve Paulsell said.

Foes upset after delay on Philips

The Columbia City Council’s agreement Monday night to table its vote on the proposed annexation and zoning of the Philips farm has opponents crying foul.

The council, which after months of discussion was scheduled to take a final vote on the proposal, tabled it instead after attorney Dan Simon presented a 10-page memorandum detailing last-minute changes in the proposal from developer Elvin Sapp. Simon also warned that Sapp would withdraw his plan if the council failed to approve it by March 15.

Robot brought in for meth bust

Suspicious materials that police and firefighters thought might be radioactive explosives inside a Columbia home were the makings of a methamphetamine laboratory, police said.

Columbia police were called to 707 W. Sexton Road about 10:15 a.m. Tuesday by construction workers who were about to begin renovations on the one-story house. The workers told police they had stumbled upon fuel canisters and labels depicting radioactive symbols inside the vacant house, said Columbia Fire Department Battalion Chief Steven Sapp.

Dental hygienists balk at legislation

A bill that would expand the responsibilities of dental assistants, including allowing them to clean teeth, has drawn protest from Missouri dental hygienists.

Dental assistants with at least three years of clinical experience and who have completed a minimum of 72 hours of clinical training would be permitted to remove tartar and plaque from patients’ teeth under the proposed bill.

Case dismissed against basketball coach

The case brought against MU assistant basketball coach Tony Harvey has been dismissed from Boone County Circuit Court.

Ken Hensel, a house painter, sued Harvey for close to $5,000 and accused him of failing to pay Hensel for the paint job he did on Harvey’s house.

Arts and Science Week lauds service, leadership

Chancellor Richard Wallace and James Morgan, artistic director for New York’s York Theater Company, are among those being recognized during MU’s annual Arts and Science Week, which began Monday.

Wallace will receive the Honorary Alumni Award for his exceptional leadership at MU. Morgan will be given the Distinguished Service Award for his help in the development of “Mizzou on Broadway,” a literary theatrical showcase that features original work by MU students on the New York City stage.

Biological ‘ink’ used to generate tissue

In the future, organs for transplant may come from a printer, not the operating room.

Gabor Forgacs, a professor of theoretical physics and biological sciences at MU, his colleagues and his research team have successfully created tubes of biological tissue using a modified printer and drops of living ink, the MU News Bureau announced.

Louisiana Purchase focus of conference this week

This week, a conference at MU will look at whether the common understanding of religious history in America changes when viewed through the lens of the Louisiana Purchase.

“We usually tell the story of America and America’s religion from the starting point of New England and the Puritans,” said Richard Callahan, an assistant professor of religious studies at MU. “We forget that there were people to the west (of New England) already.”

Public school cuts lead to protesting

JEFFERSON CITY — Students, teachers, parents and principals converged on the Capitol on Monday to chastise their government leaders for cuts to public school funding and to ask for more money for their schools.

About 2,000 rally participants chanted “S-O-S, save our schools” and raised homemade banners urging elected officials to make children their priority. Several school officials told of how state funding cuts have resulted in fewer teachers, larger classes and program cuts to everything from athletics to tutors to teacher training.

For kids, Capitol rally a holiday well spent

JEFFERSON CITY — Vernieca Kellum of West Plains doesn’t know what the Foundation Formula is. She doesn’t know the mathematical intricacies of Missouri’s education funding. She said she

doesn’t follow state politics.