‘04 Special Olympics in Columbia

Columbia already is host to the Senior Show-Me Games and the Show-Me State Games. Now it will feature the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games as well. Naomi Cupp, board chairwoman of Special Olympics Missouri, announced Tuesday that MU will host the Special Olympics Summer Games for the next four years. Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Olympics will bring a $4 million boost to the local economy. “It is an opportunity to strengthen our program and reward the community for their exemplary support,” Cupp said. Columbia was chosen for its exceptional hospitality, ...

Bill to seek tax-break accountability

JEFFERSON CITY — Missourians would learn more about businesses that are getting special tax breaks under a plan to be proposed in Missouri’s Senate.

Tax subsidies to the tune of tens of millions of dollars are issued each year to businesses that participate in one of about 50 state programs — with the expectation that those businesses provide public benefits, such as bringing new development to impoverished areas or preserving historic buildings.

Mother charged with child abuse

A Columbia woman was charged on Tuesday with two counts of felony child abuse involving her two children, ages 3 and 5.

Yolanda Gail Brewster, 24, of the 1200 block of Elleta Boulevard, was arrested Monday.

Fiscal risk seen in science bonds

Missouri Democratic and Republican lawmakers share the goal of boosting life sciences research in Missouri, but some Democrats say the University of Missouri’s proposal to use $190.4 million in bonds to meet the goal could put the state’s fiscal stability at risk.

Meanwhile, officials of other public universities in Missouri with life sciences said they want to be included in the plans.

Initial wrestling building plan OK’d

Hickman High School wrestling coach Doug Black dreads rainy days. Precipitation turns his practice room into a series of puddles.

“When it rains, it leaks water really bad,” he said. “It leaks in 40 or 50 different spots. It’s not a very pleasant room.”

Car fire burns woman over 90% of body

A woman was listed in critical condition Monday night after suffering burns from a car fire in a residential area near Business Loop 70 on Monday morning.

The victim was in the burn unit at University Hospital and Clinics with burns on 90 to 100 percent of her body. Officials had not released the victim’s name.

Judge appointed in suit over school funding

JEFFERSON CITY — The former executive director of Missouri’s Association of Prosecuting Attorneys will be the first judge to hear the lawsuit against Missouri’s school funding system.

Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan has been assigned to hear the mammoth school funding lawsuit filed late last week. The lawsuit asserts that the state’s complicated public school funding formula is neither equitable nor adequate in its distribution of state funds.

Business-boost controversy

Four years ago, Anita Griggs certified her business as a women-owned business with the state’s Office of Administration in hopes of the state spending money on her services. But since that time, Anita’s Homestyle Catering has yet to see any benefit, she said.

“Other than our name being on a list, I really haven’t benefited from it,” Griggs said.

Helping hands interpret City Council

For Peggy Withrow and Kelley Clark, five-hour-long City Council meetings can be mentally — and physically — exhausting.

Withrow and Clark are employed to interpret everything said at Columbia’s City Council meetings into American Sign Language for an audience of TV viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. “It can be tiring,” said Clark, 34, who has worked as an interpreter for about eight years. “There are times when we miss key words, dates or spellings.”

Going wireless in the heart of Africa

In the trading center of Makindye, a 10-minute drive south of downtown Kampala, Uganda, Godfrey Mukasa is doing business. The 22-year-old civil engineering student sells prepaid phone cards and used cell phones from a sidewalk kiosk. His small timber shack is painted yellow and blue, the colors of MTN Uganda, the country’s leading wireless operator.

On a good night, Mukasa returns to his parents’ house at 10:30 p.m. with a profit of 15,000 Uganda shillings — roughly $7.50. The average citizen earns less than $1 a day, according to World Bank statistics.

Thornbrook citizens voice fire concerns

When Beth Winton’s son lay on the pool deck turning blue two years ago, Winton would have loved to receive help from a city of Columbia fire station three miles away.

But Thornbrook, her subdivision, receives service from Boone County Fire Protection District. At the time, the closest county station was 5.3 miles away. It took about 11 minutes for a truck to arrive, and a neighbor saved Winton’s 4½ -year-old child.

Mending a marred mosaic

Almost two years and three months ago, the Tiger Spot mosaic on MU’s campus was unveiled during Homecoming to a crowd of students, faculty and alumni beneath a shining sun. Now, in the midst of winter and daily below-freezing temperatures, work has stopped on the donation by local artist Paul Jackson.

Lewis and Clark on One Read’s list

This year marks the bicentennial of the beginning of Lewis and Clark’s expedition to explore America’s newly acquired Western territory. An account of that journey is under consideration for Columbia’s next One Read program.

“Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose is one of 10 books under review by a panel of 14 volunteers for the 2004 program, which begins in September. The One Read program is one in which community members all read the same book and discuss it in various forums. The adult-oriented program, which started in Seattle and gained national notice in Chicago, has taken off in cities around the country.

Ragtag becomes nonprofit

Ragtag Cinemacafe, Columbia’s independent theater where you can sit on a sofa and have dinner while watching a movie, now operates as a nonprofit organization.

Charlotte Overby, a member of Ragtag’s seven-person governing board, said becoming a nonprofit organization means Ragtag won’t pay taxes on ticket sales and equipment. It also allows the theater to accept tax-deductible donations.

Disappearing signs

They’re green and white and read all over.

Street signs from Aaron Drive to Zinnia Drive tell Columbia residents where they are, but increasingly those signs are disappearing. Last year, about 1,800 street signs were replaced by the Traffic Division of the city’s Public Works Department. And at $150 a pop, the costs to taxpayers are adding up — to about $270,000 in 2003.

Unions get best work conditions

As I listened to a young woman complain about her job as she waited ahead of me in the check-out line at the grocery store, I was wondering how long it would be before the labor union movement would become popular again. I kept quiet while she went on and on about low wages and unsafe working conditions. I’ve learned over the past few years that bringing up suggestions about how things came to be the way they are is not a subject people particularly want to hear about. Folks don’t really want to hear about how we, as a society, sometimes threw the dishes out with the dishwater. A lot of them are convinced that everything is better than it has ever been, and they are not willing to compromise on the subject.

According to some, of course, the only labor union they ever heard about was the Teamsters Union and the antics of Jimmy Hoffa. And as far as many employers are concerned, the less people hear about organized labor, the better they like it. Who needs a pension, right, now that they can have a 401K and a profit-sharing plan? Actually, a lot of people do because it takes a lot of money to survive retirement. Workers usually find these things out the hard way.

A friendly forecast

On Saturday, when it was cold enough to see your breath, 14-year-old Tommy Hendricks and his 10-year-old brother, Kenny, were assigned the task of deflating a 6-foot Christmas teddy bear. They had to shake off the ice and snow.

But as Sunday topped out at 56 degrees, a barefoot Tommy helped his brother and father, Scott, wrap up the red and white rope lights that had lined their Hidden Creek Road driveway during the holidays.

Physics, entomology spared

MU’s undergraduate physics program and its entomology department are off the hook. A campus program viability audit committee decided they are strong and should be maintained, MU officials said Friday.

The two departments were among were among the six programs and two departments selected for review by a UM system task force.

Merger, finances, consolidation seen as issues for UM in 2004

When MU Chancellor Richard Wallace announced his retirement last July, University of Missouri system President Elson Floyd said the university was entering a year of transition. The transition included a series of changes and decisions in both administration and academics, most of which should see a resolution in 2004.

The year ended in turmoil as the university was shaken by the Ricky Clemons scandal. On tapes released in December by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, the former MU basketball player talks to Floyd’s wife, Carmento Floyd, and Amy Stewart, the wife of MU associate athletics director Ed Stewart. The conversations contained racial remarks that sparked controversy about the Floyds’ and Stewarts’ relationships with Clemons.

Final push for 3 Boone legislators

JEFFERSON CITY — This could be the final year in Missouri’s Capitol for three Columbia-area legislators, and their circumstances are hardly conducive for going out with a bang.

Boone County’s senator and two of its representatives, who are scheduled to be ousted by term limits, find themselves in the minority party and with limited power to push their legislation to the top of the legislative agenda.