Sharing time

Voluntary Action Center will need volunteers for two-hour shifts Monday through Friday, Dec. 8 through Dec. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Volunteers will be assisting in the collection and distribution of the holiday gifts and food for VAC’s 20th annual Christmas Program at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Call Cindy Mustard or Nancy Finke at 449-6959.

Boone County Council on Aging needs volunteers to assist low-income seniors with snow shoveling this winter. There is also a need for a volunteer to assist a disabled gentleman with grocery shopping during the morning or early afternoon hours. Another senior adult needs a couple of volunteers to waterproof her deck — this would just take a couple hours. If you can help with any of these projects call Andrea Kolb at 443-1111 or e-mail her at

Columbia teachers earn more than average

These days, it pays to be a teacher at Grant Elementary School. According to a new report on the Columbia Public School District, teachers at Grant earn $42,465 on average for their full-time services, almost $4,000 more than the state’s median salary.

The information released Monday in the 2002-03 report required by the state shows that teachers in the Columbia district earn about $2,000 more than the state average. It also shows that the district exceeds the state average in other categories, including the percentage of students entering four-year colleges or universities and the percentage of job placements for vocational students.

Protecting the past

For more than a century, Columbians have headed downtown to bank, dine, ship and shop. And while the central business district has gone through many transformations over the years, many of the buildings from the late 19th century and early 20th century remain.

Because of its central role in Columbia’s history, the Special Business District was recently nominated by the state for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Dozens of downtown structures are several decades old, and their rich architecture and history were detailed by Debbie Sheals, a local preservationist, in a report to the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

MoDOT director to resign

JEFFERSON CITY — The director of the Missouri Department of Transportation announced his intention to step down from the agency next year.

Henry Hungerbeeler’s resignation comes just weeks after an independent citizens panel appointed by the state’s Highways and Transportation Commission recommended management change at the highest levels of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Inquiry into crash response continues

The message sent out to Columbia Police units by dispatchers after an accident Friday on U.S. 63 near Broadway said only that the accident occurred somewhere near a bridge on the highway between Broadway and Stadium.

Police did not find the victims until driver Jerad Miller, 21, crawled up an embankment to flag down help after regaining consciousness the next morning.

Impact of I-70 plan addressed

The planned widening of Interstate 70 stands to have a significant impact on jobs and taxes, and the city of Columbia wants to know more about those potential impacts.

There are more than 300 businesses along the I-70 corridor in Columbia, and the city is taking bids from companies for an impact study about how the project would affect local jobs and tax revenues.

City’s large vehicles get new biofuel

A new form of biodiesel for use in city vehicles — and the city’s first hybrid car — were unveiled Tuesday morning at a ceremony attended by local, state and national officials who said they hope these purchases become widely used. The new fuel uses 20 percent soybean oil and is commonly called B20. It will be used in the city’s 290 large vehicles and heavy equipment.

Currently, the city uses about 400,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year in these vehicles, said Lowell Patterson, director of Public Works.

State releases $83 million in public funds for education

The coffers of the Columbia Public Schools and the University of Missouri system received a surprise boost Tuesday.

Citing an unexpected influx of federal money, Gov. Bob Holden released more than $80 million to Missouri’s public schools and colleges — a little more than one-third of the roughly $220 million he withheld in July because of budget concerns.

Harrowing crash

The last thing Jerad Miller remembers about his drive home from Columbia Mall on Friday night is turning south from Broadway onto U.S. 63 about 8 p.m.

The next morning, Miller regained consciousness wedged between the broken windshield of his blue Chevrolet Corsica and the freezing water of Hominy Branch Creek. His friend and passenger, 23-year-old Joseph Stenger, lay dead by his side.

Bills filed for next legislative session

JEFFERSON CITY — Monday marked the beginning of Missouri’s House and Senate prefiling bills for the January legislative session.

Issues lawmakers filed on the opening day ranged from taxes to gay marriages, from cloning to face veils and from repealing tax limits to freezing college tuition.

Withholdings case headed to high court

JEFFERSON CITY — A legal battle over withholdings to K-12 education that began in July makes its way to the highest court in the state Wednesday.

Fourteen Missouri school districts are asking the Missouri Supreme Court to reject Gov. Bob Holden’s $192 million in withholdings to public schools.

Council toughens panhandling law

Panhandlers might find their work a little harder this winter.

Amendments to the city code on panhandling, approved Monday night by the City Council, are placing greater restrictions on the ways people can solicit.

MU-Husker poster selling in Boonville

A poster that was torn from the shelves of MU-owned stores is selling wildly in Boonville. The poster commemorates the first Missouri Tigers football victory over Nebraska since 1978.

The Friends of Historic Boonville initially ordered 150 of the posters and sold them in three days for $10 each. The group then ordered a shipment of 100 more, which was received Monday, said Maryellen McVicker, executive director for Friends of Historic Boonville. The Friends sold 82 more posters in about six hours Monday, she said.

Missourian administrator ’good at life’

Stephanie Collins met her future husband in the Backdoor Lounge at Midway when the two competed in a karaoke competition. Bob Collins sang a George Jones song that begins “I’ll love you till I die.” She beat him with Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.”

Mr. Collins also sang to her on their wedding day seven years ago, she said.

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.