Risky Road

Lawrence Hintz remembers nothing from the spring evening in May 1998 when his Chevrolet Cavalier collided with a Mercury Cougar on rain-slickened Route WW, leaving him on life support for several days and with a permanent five-day memory gap.

Now fully recovered, Hintz says he knows at least one thing for sure: Route WW is dangerous.

Warmer winter temperatures predicted

A forecast released last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for warmer-than-normal temperatures for the Central United States through February.

In October, the NOAA predicted that this part of the country had an equal chance of having above-normal or below-normal winter temperatures.

Revitalizing the Loop

Thirty years ago, in the era of sock hops and burly Cadillacs, Business Loop 70 was a high-schooler’s slice of heaven: a 4-mile stretch with empty parking lots and few stoplights just perfect for an idyllic Friday night cruise.

“It was just the place kids went back then,” said Dave Griggs, who grew up in Columbia and owns a flooring company on the business loop.

Poet finds inspiration in job, free time

Chris Spivey is still unsure about what he wants to do with his life, but that indecision is not for lack of trying. Spivey, 28, can speak five languages, is a published poet, knows how to fence and has spent the last couple of months working as a site manager for the Columbia Housing Authority.

“I liked what they had to say,” he said of the people at CHA. “I like that they’re more interested in helping people than the almighty dollar.”

Overwhelmed by holiday shopping

Although I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that the Little Drummer Boy take the season off for some R&R, I’m sure that by December 24 I will have wished I had. It’s just something about that constant drumming…. Oh well, I suppose it could be worse, like the sound of Rush Limbaugh’s voice droning on and on…. The problem is that one of my best friends can’t get enough of that song. She’s the kind who carols from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day.

This annoying situation reminds me of how often opposites attract each other. How often do night people marry morning people? Why is that so many teetotalers wind up with drunks? Is it that some of us just like to make each other miserable?

Governor focuses on education funding

JEFFERSON CITY — With selected education and business leaders gathered around him, Gov. Bob Holden has been campaigning across the state to raise money for education.

The governor has been holding discussions on education and the economy, inviting certain officials to share their views about the link between the classroom and corporate boardroom.

Hallsville man killed in weekend car accident

Hallsville resident Bob J. Collins was killed in a single-car accident on Gans Road south of Columbia early Sunday morning. The accident was called in at 2:40 a.m. by an individual living in the area. The Boone County Sheriff's Department and the Columbia Fire Department responded at 2:50 and Collins was pronounced dead at the scene.

Collins worked as a systems administrator and information systems manager for the Columbia Missourian and owned Carpenter's Computers in Hallsville.

Mid-Missouri looks to lure new job base

Faced with the loss of hundreds of manufacturing jobs, state and local economic development experts want to take mid-Missouri’s economy in a new direction.

The plan is to replace traditional industries that manufacture products such as bricks and electronic circuitry with firms that specialize in biological research and computer components. Officials say that a shift toward biotechnology and high-tech manufacturing would better serve the area because they create higher-paying jobs and attract better-educated workers.

City looks at adding 3-1-1 line

A new three-digit telephone number could help prevent Columbia’s emergency dispatchers from having to field unnecessary calls and give residents an easier way to report everyday problems or get information about city services.

On Monday, the Columbia City Council will hear a preliminary report from Assistant City Manager Paula Hertwig Hopkins on a potential 3-1-1 nonemergency calling system. The number, already used by 15 cities around the country, would provide 24-hour access to information and, it is hoped, reduce unnecessary 9-1-1 emergency calls.

Music is his life

Nestled in the middle of a 60-piece orchestra sits a burly, white-haired man with a clarinet. His unassuming face is hidden under a thick white beard and heavy glasses that seem to bury his rugged features. Nothing about him seems to command attention — until he picks up his horn. Jim Adair’s interpretation of the first clarinet solo from the Unfinished Symphony flows with such seamless expertise that it could make Franz Schubert cry. The solo sounds more like a lyrical underwater dance than air forced through heavy wood and metal. When he finishes, he quietly lowers his instrument as if nothing spectacular happened.

“Ooh, I seemed to be rushing that,” Adair later said of his performance.

Malpractice in crisis

Last summer, Curt Vogel wasn’t quite ready to retire as a physician, but he wanted to reduce his practice to three days a week.

But whether he saw patients five days a week or three, Vogel’s malpractice insurance premiums would have increased from $19,000 a year to about $58,000. After 28 years as a vascular surgeon, he decided that it made more financial sense to retire.

Examining an extreme

Tragic events such as the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, the standoff at Ruby Ridge and the Olympic Park bombing evoke horror and sadness, but the people responsible for these events saw themselves as heroes and are linked to a complex group, the Christian Identity Movement.

This movement views the white race as superior, stemming from the belief that Adam was the first white man. They take the Bible literally and believe the United States is the New Israel. And they justify violent or hateful acts committed against other races as punishment for the world’s “race mixing.”

Tips for fire-free holiday

The Columbia Fire Department on Monday will begin its annual Operation Red Wreath campaign in an effort to keep Columbia residents aware of the danger of fires caused by holiday lights and decorations.

A wreath with red holiday lights will be displayed in front of the downtown fire station on Tenth Street. Each time a fire involving holiday lights occurs, the department will change one of the wreath’s bulbs from red to white.

MU professor makes career of researching piping plovers

It was 20 years ago when The Nature Conservancy first approached Mark Ryan to gather information on piping plovers. At the time, there was little information on the birds, which were under consideration as an addition to the federal endangered species list.

Ryan, who had just finished his doctorate in animal ecology, embraced the opportunity.

Study prompts skepticism

An MU researcher is skeptical of a recent study that says two birds at the center of the debate about how to manage flows on the Missouri River are doing better than they were 200 years ago.

The study by Missouri River Keepers, an Iowa-based nonprofit group that includes shippers and farmers, said the endangered piping plover and threatened least tern are doing quite well.

There are benefits of boxed trees

When my husband and I were first married I remember jumping out of bed the day after Thanksgiving, getting dressed in warm clothes and heading to the woods with all the children in tow to select the perfect tree. That’s the problem with memories, we sugarcoat them. Actually, we only took the kids with us once and it was a disaster. The older ones were bored and the younger ones just wanted to run around. The youngest started crying when we told him we get only get one tree (back then, our house was barely big enough for a table tree.)

Since that year’s fiasco, my husband and I would sneak out alone to do the tree shopping. We would go to a tree farm just outside of town and wander around for a suitable pine. I always wanted the tallest tree in the forest. We’d tromp around until I had inspected every tree taller than seven feet. After I made my selection, we’d throw it in the back of the truck and haul it home.

Searching for his place

Standing in a pool of bloody water, John McBride pulls his knife blade, back and forth, over a 10-inch steel sharpener. He wears protective knit gloves and an apron spotted with red. It’s only noon, and he knows he still has seven more hours to go.

As one truck after another pulls up with a bed full of deer, McBride stays busy. He unloads the cargo, snaps off the lower half of the legs, strips off the skin using a winch and hangs the carcasses for refrigeration. It’s a repetitive process, but he prefers that to standing around.

Peace disturbed

Hundreds of years ago, they lived and died on the vast, open plains of the Midwest. But today the remains of more than 3,000 Native Americans are stored in boxes, packed away like forgotten objects, inside a concrete warehouse on Rock Quarry Road.

The assortment of bones and funerary objects were unearthed more than a decade ago during road-building operations conducted by the Missouri Department of Transportation. The fact that the remains have yet to be returned to their tribal descendants for a proper burial is an affront to many Native Americans, says Don Hart, a Cherokee who owns Best of the West, a downtown shop that sells Native American artifacts.

Tobacco payments diverted

Since 2001, Missouri has received more than $500 million from the settlement of litigation against tobacco companies over smoking-related health care costs. Meanwhile, the General Assembly has given state health officials only $500,000 to help deter Missourians from smoking.

Deborah Markenson of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said her department had planned to start several prevention programs last year. However, tobacco revenue earmarked for the programs was redirected to make up for the state’s budget shortfall.

Charity’s soldiers

Stepping into the office of Major George Windham, a visitor is immediately confronted by the fierce gaze of eagles – 297 eagles, to be exact. The office is full of them: ceramic, pewter and wood, painted, drawn and woven, eagles adorn almost every flat surface. Many of the birds are swathed in, perched on, or otherwise associated with the Stars and Stripes. The eagles and flags are not the only martial trappings in Windham’s office. The gleaming insignia on his uniform collar match an ornate crest on the wall. A closer look at the crest reveals the words “Fire and Blood” emblazoned across a red, yellow and blue shield, topped with a crown and superimposed over crossed swords.

But Windham is no Rambo. He rests his hands on an ample belly as he leans back behind his desk, and the grin that creases his ruddy face can only be described as jolly. For Windham, the word “fire” on the wall is Hell’s fire, and the word “blood” means Christ’s. Windham is most certainly a warrior — in the Salvation Army.