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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.

Heifer helps feed needy

Growing up with almost nothing sometimes teaches a person to give everything.

At least that’s how Bob and Muriel Leach see things. While lots of folks will be out hunting for bargains and gifts on Friday, Bob and Muriel won't be part of the mad dash on the opening day of the Christmas retail season.

Governor wants to update SenioRx plan

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Bob Holden on Wednesday tried to reassure senior citizens that their prescription drug needs will be provided for between state and federal programs.

Speaking during lunch hour at a senior center, Holden said that, in light of the Medicare reform bill that Congress passed Tuesday, some changes should be made to the state program, called SenioRx.

Opening historic homes

Dressed in Spandex bike-riding gear and still wearing helmets, Carol and Irl Don clomped up worn steps and peered into an attic guest room at the Katy O’Neil, one of three bed and breakfasts in Rocheport.

“Charming,” they crooned as they surveyed the claw-foot bathtub separated from the bedroom by an old-fashioned dressing screen.

Greenbacks vs. Green Space

Landowner Bob Smith said he just wanted to harvest some trees.

Last fall, Smith and fellow landowner Hugh Stephenson hired a logger to chop down and sell a substantial number of trees on 53 acres along Grindstone Parkway. That land has since been approved by the Columbia City Council as the site of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter for south Columbia.

New committee to examine cable TV issues in Columbia

A seven-member cable television task force has been appointed by Mayor Darwin Hindman to look at issues involved in the cable television franchises in Columbia.

Hindman said he is “not sure what the issues may be; that is what the committee is looking into.”

Officials work to update Sunshine Law

The Missouri Sunshine Law may soon include provisions to make the decades-old regulations applicable in today’s world of e-mail and teleconferencing.

Attorney General Jay Nixon worked with state Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, to add these provisions in an amendment called the Sunshine Upgrade Act. They announced the act Tuesday in Columbia and expect it to be debated in Missouri’s next legislative session, which begins in January.

Research to focus on plant medicine

Before American doctors ever developed Tylenol or radiation, alternative medicines, like those from plant extracts, were used by cultures across the globe to treat diseases ranging from the flu to cancer.

With 29 percent of Americans and more than 80 percent of the African population using alternative medicines, plant extracts might offer real medical benefits. Now a $275,400 grant will help MU researchers study the effects of these plants on AIDS and cancer and discover ways to combine indigenous medicines with more conventional drugs.

City discusses road widening, donation of land

In the latest of a series of proposals to alleviate traffic congestion at the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Interstate 70, the Columbia City Council heard a proposal Tuesday night to widen Scott Boulevard. Ronald L. Schikevitz, civil/transportation manager for Burns and McDonnell in Kansas City, described the details involved in widening the road from two lanes to four and possibly adding a median. Funding would be shared by the city, the county and the Missouri Department of Transportation, but a department official said it did not expect to have money available for five years. The City Council also heard from County Commissioner Skip Elkin in regards to 80 acres of land given by a family. It discussed turning this plot, which is adjacent to the Boone County Fairgrounds, into a park to provide ball fields for youth. The group did not decide whether the Columbia or Boone County would do the project, but it did discuss a third option of a joint venture with joint ownership.

Cranberries, charity and community

Fifty pounds of potatoes, 20-someboxes of turkey stuffing, six turkeys over 20 pounds each and about 15 pecan and pumpkin pies filled three Gerbes shopping carts as Almeta Crayton and Cindy Mustard shopped for the “Everyone Eats” Thanksgiving dinner.

“It’s trying to get away, Cindy,” Crayton said as she almost dropped one of the large turkeys. Crayton, the First Ward councilwoman, has been host for the dinner at Lou’s Palace for the past five years.

Mattresses, menus and money

MU’s hotel and restaurant management program is enjoying a boom in growth, and part of the credit belongs to new recruiting strategies and area businesses, advocates of the program say.

Sylvia Gaiko, director of undergraduate programs and industry relations, said undergraduate enrollment grew 31 percent this year — up from an 18 percent increase the year before.

Fixes sought for Ashland’s power woes

The city of Ashland continues to search for a solution to electricity problems that have resulted in 10 power outages since 1998 and have ranged from 42 minutes to nearly 10 hours in length.

Since a 10-hour outage on Nov. 4, the city has been supplied with electricity routed through a transformer on the back of a large flatbed truck near New Bloomfield in Callaway County. While there haven’t been any outages with the temporary system being used by AmerenUE energy company, some Ashland residents are using the opportunity to call the utility’s attention to smaller but more frequent problems.

Students use more majors to self-market

Some college students who hope to stand out in the job market are shouldering more than one major to showcase their abilities and potential.

“Multiple majors make students more marketable,” said Terry Smith, vice president and dean of academic affairs at Columbia College.

Fulton redevelopment to begin in spring

The destruction of two Fulton buildings will pave the way for a redevelopment project that includes a movie theater, retail center and grocery store on the city’s south side.

Residents are anxious for the demolition of the empty Wal-Mart and Apple Market buildings on the site along Business 54, Fulton Mayor Robert Craghead said.

Hospital’s expansion plan ready for bids

This week, Boone Hospital Center will select a construction manager to oversee a 60,000-plus-square-foot addition that will allow the hospital to expand its outpatient services.

Scheduled to break ground by February, Columbia’s largest hospital is soliciting bids from construction firms to build the structure on the south side of the center’s complex at Broadway and William Street.

To crowds, Santa’s worth the cold wait

Gloomy, overcast skies and whispers about Columbia’s first winter snowfall couldn’t keep a crowd from gathering downtown Sunday afternoon to ring in the holiday season.

The city’s annual holiday parade, organized this year by the Columbia Jaycees, brought spectators of all ages downtown to watch dozens of floats cruise down Broadway from College Avenue to Fourth Street.

Developers form group to gain more influence

A group of Columbia developers have come together to gain a larger influence in the city’s development.

The Central Missouri Development Council formed earlier this year with the purpose of working with the development community to have a better voice and to improve communication among developers, the city, the county and the community, interim executive director and group spokesman Don Stamper said.

Freshmen of the future

As this year’s record number of MU freshmen prepare for finals, university administrators are faced with a math problem of their own: what to do with an even bigger class of freshmen next fall. Compared to last year, applications as of Nov. 1 are up about 18.5 percent.

While admissions officers are excited by the increase — in quality as well as number — they caution that it is still too early to tell if 2004 will be another record year for enrollment. Though the admissions office declines to prophesy, other campus administrators are beginning to plan. After all, they only have eight months to find places to put these would-be Tigers.

Identifying the money-grubbers

Well, one of those “free-market advocates” chewed me out pretty good after last week’s column and tried to teach me not to take their names in vain again. Unfortunately, I’m past the point where those race and gender comments have any effect on me. Guys, I thought, I was born under segregation, went through the civil rights era and although affirmative action and I have never touched bases, I’ve heard that garbage a million times. Actually, we don’t have a fight. They have all the money and political power and can do anything they want, anything except make me lie down and roll over.

This is one of those periods in my life when I’m glad that I grew up in a ghetto. That’s where I learned about all the games people play. I experienced my first acquaintances with several people who made their living by hustling the streets. I found out how talking fast and being skilled at misdirecting people could result in amazing success, depending on how well you learned the game. In fact, I’ve found out since, that all political, economic and generic con games are based on those same old street games. The most valuable part of my education was when I witnessed firsthand how often those who lied to people also stole from them. I was fortunate to come from people who had a value system that defined lying and stealing as morally wrong, at any level.

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