’Realville’ imitates poverty’s realities

The people of “Realville” are just like everyone else: They work, send their children to school and pay bills. The town has a bank, a supermarket, a school and a police department. The only difference is that all of Realville’s residents are at or below the poverty level.

Realville and its residents may be fictitious, but the situations they find themselves in are very real. That’s what participants from all over the community — ranging from the homeless to CEOs — learned during the “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” poverty simulation Friday.

Youths discuss politics, rights

Sarah Whites-Koditschek walks with a purposeful gait, her shoulders taking the lead and a determination behind her steps that fall heavy on her brown leather Birkenstocks. She’s clad in slacks with a tank top over her broad shoulders, hanging a bit from her thin frame. The 19-year-old has dark, calm eyes. They seem to record and take notes as she nods occasionally. Her knuckles cover her pursed lips. Her dark hair is almost within Army regulations for men. Whites-Koditschek stretches a lot. Hardly a moment goes by when she’s not tugging at one elbow or another, which reveals a rather large scar that other women would go to lengths to cover. But this restlessness is possibly because of stress. She just organized Columbia’s first Youth Activist Conference.

“They’re really doing an excellent job,” said Hilary Aid, an adult volunteer helping with the conference. Aid insists that Whites-Koditschek and her small crew did all the organizing themselves.

Life Sciences summit offers opportunities to network

About 300 people are expected to gather this week in St. Louis for the Missouri Summit on Life Sciences for opportunities to learn, exhibit and network with each other.

A Columbia contingent of 20 to 30 participants will attend the summit, which opens today and runs through Tuesday. It is “a way to facilitate commercialization activities that will directly affect Missouri’s bottom line in the life sciences industries,” said Barbara Wilhelm, program director for Missouri Biotechnology Association, host of the summit.

Losing my mind along with sleep

Being more than a half century old, I have my share of aches and pains. But lately I’ve been acting strangely. And I’d really start worrying about myself if I weren’t surrounded by friends who have the same problem. Sadly all of us weirdoes are women. Men at this age either are not inflicted with this syndrome or are good at hiding it.

Choosing a church's path

ASHLAND — Ten miles south of Columbia on U.S. 63, the cemetery behind New Salem Baptist Church houses the bodies of slaves, Civil War veterans and a who’s who of Ashland and Columbia’s earliest days. Dr. David Doyle, the church’s first pastor, is buried here. He carried a rifle to and from church from fear of Indian attacks. That was a little more than 175 years ago.

Through the window of the church’s back office, Doyle’s tombstone stands guard. But there is change in sight these days.

More power

For the first time in more than two decades, Columbia residents and businesses face rising electric rates as a result of unbalanced energy supply and demand in mid-Missouri.

In early June, the Water and Light Advisory Board recommended the consulting firm R.W. Beck review Columbia’s electricity needs. This study, completed July 1, estimated Columbia will need an additional 75 to 150 megawatts of capacity between 2008 and 2020 as the city’s peak energy load increases.

Mother charged in infant deaths

A Moberly woman was arrested Thursday morning and charged with murder in connection with the deaths just over a year apart of her two infant children.

Carla Clay, 23, was arraigned before Randolph County Associate Circut Judge Scott Haynes Thursday afternoon on two counts of first-degree murder. She is being held on $1 million bond in the Randolph County Jail.

Cheney to campaign Monday in Columbia

Vice President Dick Cheney will visit Columbia on Monday to tout the administration’s agenda and shore up support in a presidential battleground state.

Cheney will speak at a campaign event at Boone County Millwork showroom and production facility on Vandiver Drive, according to a news release issued Thursday by the Bush-Cheney campaign. “The vice president will talk about the importance of continuing the administration’s optimistic agenda and the progress being made as a result of the president’s leadership,” said Tracey Schmitt, a Bush-Cheney spokeswoman.

Democrats debate in House races

Even the Democratic candidates for the 24th and 25th District House races admitted it’s been tough to distinguish the differences among them.

“We’re all good, progressive, Democratic candidates ... so wherein lies the difference?” Mike Blum, a candidate for the 25th District, said in his opening remarks at a Thursday night debate leading up to the Aug. 3 primary.

Teens to hold activist meeting

Isaiah Taylor empties his pockets as he looks for the list of panelists for Saturday’s Youth Activist Conference.

As the 19-year-old begins to sort through the scraps of paper, fellow conference organizer Sarah Whites-Koditschek chimes in playfully.

A good room for mushroom

Brad Bomanz loves mushrooms. He loves to cook with them and he loves to eat them. He also loves to collect them, a passion he traces back to his childhood.

Bomanz is a member of the Missouri Mycological Society, referred to as MOMS. It started in 1986 as a small group of amateur mushroom researchers and hunters. Now a chapter of the North American Mycological Society, MOMS has about 150 mushroom lovers.

Columbia School District asks for appeal in tax case

Lawyers for the two defendants in a property-tax lawsuit against the Columbia School District have asked the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the case following an unfavorable decision by an appeals court.

Alex Bartlett, attorney for the Columbia School District, and John Patton, attorney for Boone County Collector Pat Lensmeyer, each filed on Wednesday an application for transfer with the Supreme Court. A decision on whether to hear the case will likely come on the court’s next hand-down date, Aug. 24, although the Supreme Court clerk’s office said the decision could come earlier.

Climbing wall retrial set for late August

Local climbing wall owner Marcus Floyd will face a retrial set for Aug. 24.

Judge Gene Hamilton of the 13th Judicial Court overruled a motion for Floyd’s acquittal, which his defense attorneys raised at a motion hearing last week.

Awareness key goal of poverty game

Participants in the “Creating our Future Together” forum will be playing with fake money, a utility company and a jail this weekend, but they will not be sitting around a Monopoly board. Instead, they will be role-playing in the “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” poverty simulation hosted by the Columbia/Boone County Community Partnership.

To the more than 13,000 Boone County residents the 2000 U.S. Census says are living at or below the federal poverty level, however, being poor is much more than a game.

Finance disclosures reveal Holden leading by millions

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Bob Holden outspent Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill and yet had 10 times as much money in the bank heading into the final month before the Aug. 3 primary elections, according to campaign finance reports released Thursday.

A McCaskill spokesman said the cash discrepancy was due partly to the fact her campaign already had paid for TV ads to run through the election.

A taste of medicine

The smell of formaldehyde hung thickly in the warm afternoon air in the lab.

Kody Finstad concentrated intently on his patient, scalpel hovering over the foot. The room grew hushed except for a few good-natured jabs from the crowd surrounding him.

Teacher salaries rank 43rd

JEFFERSON CITY — The average salary of Missouri teachers ranks 43rd in the country, below all of Missouri’s neighbors except Arkansas and Oklahoma, according to a survey by a teachers union.

The American Federation of Teachers found the national average salary for the 2002-03 school year, the latest data available, was $45,771. In Missouri, the average salary was $37,641. By comparison, the average median household income in Missouri was $43,955 as of 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Senate hopefuls debate

Democratic candidates for the 19th District State Senate took off their gloves Wednesday night in a Boone County debate.

Tim Harlan, former 23rd District House representative until 2002, began the jabs against State Rep. Chuck Graham when responding to a question about plans to minimize the undue influence of corporations on the political process.

Hamming it up: preparing for the fair

People from all over the county are expected to bring their carefully crafted projects to the fairgrounds today for the Boone County Fair. The 58th annual event kicks off Monday. They’ll enter their items — everything from displays on cake decorating to the ideal country cured ham — for judging in three different fair contests.

Camp promotes positive choices

The steady sound of marching echoes throughout the parking lot.

“Left, left, left right left,” bellow the campers, their foreheads and cheeks coated with green and black face paint. Serious, determined expressions line their faces.