Breathing life into MU sciences

Forget that academic jargon you heard about life sciences being an interdisciplinary approach to improving food, health and the environment. The dean of MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has the best definition: “It’s cool.”

Tom Payne is excited about the new inventions and discoveries life sciences research might bring — growing vaccines in plants, regenerating bones or curing cancer — that would improve the quality of life for creatures great and small.

System helps to sway Floyd’s decision

UM system President Elson Floyd said opposition from the other three campuses in the UM system tilted his decision to not also become MU chancellor.

“There is this view in St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla that, in some ways, if the president of the university is also serving as chancellor of the Columbia campus, their involvement will be diminished somewhat,” Floyd said.

Your e-mail is not private

Kathy Love’s e-mail wasn’t a dirty joke, an ad for a new drug or a chance to win a million dollars. It was a lunch invitation for a friend and expressed her concerns about the direction of her employer, the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The content of Love’s e-mail didn’t attract any immediate attention. But the header for her message — “Happy New Year” — did, and about two weeks later, on Jan. 26, she was told it was the reason she was being fired.

Event pulls in tractor buffs

The faint haze of smoke and the rumble of chugging tractor engines filled the Boone County Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday at the National Antique Tractor Pullers Association’s championship weekend.

Friday’s competition was open to the public, provided their tractors met certain safety standards. Saturday’s grand prize championship was restricted to competitors who had done two of the 18 pulls that began with the November season opener in Columbia. Competitors from all over, but particularly the Midwest, participated in the championship.

School board hopefuls say students are main priority

Increasing achievement for the Columbia Board of Education’s main beneficiaries — the students — is a top concern for the five candidates running for two seats in Tuesday’s school board election. The question is what ideas they have for this important issue.

Martina Pounds, running for the first time, said parental involvement in the school district’s decisions could be a huge step in helping the school environment.

E-mail policies at different levels


Most state departments have a policy covering e-mail use and they must give this information to new employees.

Schooled in Perfection

His name is Paul. Only the freshmen need reminding. Paul Williams can’t walk the hallways at Rock Bridge High School without hearing an enthusiastic, “Hey, Paul. How’s it going?”

Nobody knows how old he is — some say he’s in his 60s. Why ask? The students keep him young.

Exercise for all

When people hear the word “exercise,” they often think of a weight room full of bodybuilders or a row of treadmills filled with women staring blankly at a television above them.

But exercise is much more than just lifting weights and running, and it can be adapted to encompass all kinds of people.

Squared Up

Just over 53 years ago, Delpha Walters met her husband at a dance in Moberly. It was her first square dance, and though she had been introduced to Frederick a few years earlier, she didn’t pay any attention until that night.

There must have been something about the toe-tapping, traditional tunes. Or maybe it was the carefree, whip-around-the-floor dancing that stirred something in Delpha. Whatever it was, two weeks later she and Frederick were engaged and within two months they were married.

In plein view

Phyllis Cree sits in a straight-backed chair before the fireplace mantel that displays her watercolors in her one-story brick home off Old 63. Her softly curled white hair contrasts with the vibrant hues of her paintings: the deep roses and purples that create a vase of tulips in one image, the vibrant greens that form trees in another.

She points to one of her favorite paintings, an oil of the Hinkson Creek Ford done in late summer. A dense forest of dark green swirls against the golden yellows of trees that reflect the coming autumn. In the foreground, the ford almost seems to shimmer with light. Cree explains why she was drawn to the spot:

Rapid navigation

FREDRICKTOWN — Just three hours as the crow flies from the city of Columbia, the St. Francis River cuts an ancient groove through jumbled granite at the base of the Ozarks’ oldest mountains.

The Saint’s water flows like glistening green ink through a prehistoric gorge, at times becoming a roiling froth as it navigates boulder gardens and spills over rocky ledges, creating crushing rapids and a constant, rhythmic roar.

Spring dreams in the winter of my discontent

I’ve had it with winter! If I have to wear one more black outfit, I think I’ll scream. All of my sweaters are pilled, and I hate wearing a coat, especially one that weighs as much as I do. And I’m tired of wearing socks and cloddy shoes.

I’ve read every book on the best-seller list, and some I wish I hadn’t bothered with. I’ve cleaned closets and rearranged my kitchen; now I want to get out of this house.

Life as an open gallery

A poet looks at the world as a man looks at a woman,” wrote Wallace Stevens. The Harvard-educated native of Pennsylvania worked as a lawyer and composed poetry in his head as he walked to work at Hartford Accident and Indemnity Insurance. He found poetry and beauty in the birds, trees, sights and sounds of his daily life. Art, poetry and beauty are like a vine with three distinct branches twisted and curled to form a strong living bond. Without them, life would be dull and lifeless. We don’t always take the time to stop and see the beauty and poetry of life, so here’s a chance for you to see the art of our surroundings. Stop and gaze for a while. Think of this as an open gallery. Enjoy.

A sweet twist on Passover Seder

Chocolate milk and an array of chocolate-laden treats were savored Wednesday night by members of MU’s Jewish community at the Hillel Center’s eighth annual celebration of “Chocolate Seder.”

“The best thing about the Chocolate Seder is the ability to celebrate Passover in a different way — a nontraditional way ... (that) makes the observance come to life,” said Cipporah Yaghoubian, an MU senior who was been active in the Hillel Center, the Jewish student center, for four years.

Piano Man

It’s Thursday night at Jack’s Gourmet Restaurant, a little after 6 on one of those surprisingly warm spring days. The pale lights on the gray wall cast a silence that not even screaming red leather seats can break.

Jim Poletti is there to play piano.

Devastated trails

Jack Kirkman jumps back into a Bobcat and starts filling the side of the MKT trail with boulders, adjusting the rocks and piling them to recreate the base of the trail washed out from last weekend’s storm.

“From two to three feet of the side of the trail have been washed away completely,” said Kirkman, the city’s forestry groundskeeper. Some areas had been washed away, others were covered in dirt and debris. Kirkman said the last repair work on the trail would likely be finished over the weekend.

Highsteppers ready to ‘shock’ the competition

In tandem, 40 children, third-graders through seniors, brought their knees up high and kept beats on drums at the Blind Boone Center on Thursday night.

The Mid-Missouri Highsteppers were preparing to compete in the “Making the Planet Rock” drill team competition in Kansas City on Saturday. There will be 11 teams from across the country. Tyrone Raybon, assistant director of the Highsteppers, is confident the team will do well in the competition.

MU student panel discusses diversity

Students gathered Thursday night at MU’s Gaines-Oldham Black Culture Center to discuss diversity and the social climate at MU. The goal was to start an informative dialogue among different student groups.

“A lot of times we hear the administrators, but we don’t actually hear the students themselves speak,” said Travis Gregory of Collegiate 100, which sponsored the event.

Assault charge could result in MU discipline

If Rosemary Ihetu returns to classes at MU, she could get a formal disciplinary hearing before MU’s Student Conduct Committee, which could expel her from school, said Christian Basi, an MU spokesman.

Ihetu was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of assaulting an associate dean in front of the MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing. She was released from Boone County Jail Wednesday evening after posting $20,000 bond, according to the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.

McCaskill gaining union vote

State Auditor Claire McCaskill kicked up her campaign for governor a notch this week by announcing her endorsement by one of Missouri’s largest unions.

The endorsement came from the Laborers’ International Union of North America; of which Columbia’s locals 955 and 1274 are members.