Gibson, DaVinci and Sousa

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I've been intrigued that Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has been so criticized by some (basically prior to its release and the public's opportunity to view it and make their own decision) and so little similar discussion (at least as observed by me) of Dan Brown's best-selling book, "The DaVinci Code."

To me the book was initially one of the most fast-paced, interesting crime mysteries I've ever read (it fell flat towards the end). But it also is one of the most anti-Christian -- specifically anti-Catholic -- distortions of the truth (contrary to Brown's Web page and book comments of its historic accuracy). Where's the outcry?

The John Philip Sousa program in Academic Hall last Saturday was most rewarding to those who attended. An outstanding band was ably directed by guest conductor Keith Brion. The choice of music, fast-paced transition, audience participation and skilled soloists (vocal and instrumental) made this a surprisingly enjoyable evening.

In February, the Missouri Department of Revenue gave state agency heads lists with a total of 2,352 employees who at that time hadn't paid taxes or filed tax returns as required by a 2003 state law (we needed a law?), according to Jefferson City Post-Tribune veteran governmental reporter Bob Watson.

The law which went into effect last Aug. 28, said basically "pay your taxes or be fired."

"The 2,352 people on the list are about 3.62 percent of the state's 65,000-person payroll."

Are today's youths so different from the past? I mean not to offend, but what's up with kids these days? ... Listen to their music. Loud, often racy and universally without a melody that makes you want to whistle along with the latest top 40. The musicians look equally unkempt and their lifestyles make them anything but a role model --that newfangled term we give to our modern-day heroes. But the decay in our social structure goes far beyond radio tunes.

Look at the way kids dress today. It makes you yearn for school uniforms. ...

If you listen to education experts you'll learn that test scores for kids today are dropping at a dramatic rate. ...

And finally, there's the topic of drug use by our nation's teenagers. ...

As with many other issues, all is not lost. This nation's youngsters are still the best equipped to address the challenges of a changing world. They still possess an insatiable thirst for knowledge. But it will take one other change in society to correct this recent path. It will take parents who care about their kids. ...

All hope is certainly not lost on today's younger generation. Not by a long stretch. But it will take the combined efforts of all those who impact a child's life to return America to the promise that has long formed the foundation of our nation.

(The preceding was written in 1964. Yet it in some ways applies the same today as it did 40 years ago. ...) -- Michael Jensen, publisher, Standard Democrat, Sikeston, Mo.

Last Friday's St. Louis Business Journal listed the top 150 privately held companies in St. Louis.

Ranking number 44 was Drury Inns (which is just a portion of some of the Cape Girardeau Drury brothers' companies). This is a great local self-made success story.

Here is the capsule description printed in the publication.

"Drury Ins Inc. continued its strong growth in 2003 with the opening of new hotels in Albuquerque, N.M., and Fenton.

"The company saw revenue last year increase to $252 million, up from $240 million in 2002.

"In 2004 Drury Inns has plans to open six more hotels to be located in Lafayette, La.; Birmingham, Ala.; San Antonio; and three hotels in St. Louis. Upon completion, the additional St. Louis hotels will make the company the largest hotelier in the region with 24 properties.

"At the end of this year the company will own and operate 112 hotels, 17 of which operate under different flags, such as Hampton Inn and Best Western.

"The company's largest local project currently in the works is the renovation of the historic Merchant's Laclede Building at Fourth and Olive streets downtown. The building is scheduled to open this summer as a 195-room hotel that will operate under the Hilton brand. The company, which declined to disclose the construction price of the project, is also constructing a 400-car parking garage across the street from the hotel.

"Bonnie Brown, manager of marketing services for Drury Inn, said the increased number of hotels helped drive revenue last year, but so, too, did new features and amenities introduced in 2003, including free hot breakfasts and high-speed Internet access in every room.

"Last year marked another milestone for Drury Inns when it celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first hotel it opened in Sikeston, Mo.

"Drury Inns Inc. is entirely owned by the Drury family. Charles Drury Sr. serves as president of Drury Development Corp., which build and develops the company's hotel properties. His son, Charles "Chuck" Drury Jr., operates the hotel business Drury Inns Inc.

"The company employs 500 people locally and 3,500 nationwide."

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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