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Heard On The Street

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BLOCKBUSTER TESTIMONY. Springfield businessman Mike Ingram testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Courts and Intellectual Property May 21 regarding HB 3119, which deals with amendments to the Federal Trademark Dilution Act. In 1992, Ingram's Springfield Missouri company received a federal trademark for "Blockbuster" Fireworks. In 1994, Blockbuster Video filed a dilution trademark infringement claim in federal court against Ingram. The claim is still pending in the appeals court. Ingram's testimony was arranged by bill sponsor Rep. Roy Blunt, who stated the special protection given to "famous trademarks" is unfair to small business, according to a release from Blunt.

BEAUTY. Mary Kathryn Letterman is the 1998 Ms. Manorcare. The mother of 6, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of 10 will now advance to the district pageant, sponsored by the Missouri Health Care Association. She is the mother of Dan Letterman and mother-in-law of Sheryl Letterman, Springfield Contractor's Association executive director.

ETHICS AWARD. Drury College and Springfield Rotary Club have established an award to recognize ethical decision making by business and professional people. The award is named the W. Curtis Strube Ethics in Business Award after the former director of Drury's Breech School of Business Administration, who was also a former president of Springfield Rotary Club. "This award is to recognize individuals who, in their professional or business lives, have faced an unusual, difficult ethical challenge with courage, resourcefulness and innovation. They stood firm to their principles and believed in the advice Dr. Strube often gave, 'There is no softer pillow than a clear conscience,'" said Greene County Circuit Judge J. Miles Sweeney, who is chair of the award committee. Nominees do not have to be Rotarians to be eligible. The deadline for nominations is June 1, and applications are available from Ann Hall at 866-6600.

BIG SMITH. It was the Carthage jeans maker, and not the Springfield hillbilly band, that had the Brits in a snit after a recent publicity stunt. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, Big Smith Brands Inc. and a British public-relations firm arranged for a giant pair of Big Smiths to be put on the Cerne Abbas Giant. The huge carved stone fertility symbol in southwest England is protected by Britain's National Trust, whose officials did not take kindly to the dressing up of its anatomically correct big guy. It's disputed whether the carving is 2,000 years old or a couple hundred, but that doesn't stop couples from coupling on the site, which is thought to aid conception. The Wall Street Journal said Big Smith may end up getting screwed for an $8,000 tab, standard for other commercial shoots at the giant.

IT'S HEER'S AGAIN. At a recent Downtown Springfield Association meeting, the name of a prospective Heer's building buyer came up. Roy Jenkins of the Compass Institute has talked with Urban Districts Alliance officials about his plans for purchasing and renovating the Heer's building for use by nonprofit companies. Jenkins reportedly has $10 million worth of renovations in mind for the structure, which would be the second multimillion renovation Jenkins has planned. In October 1996 he announced grand plans to rehab the former Springfield Furniture Factory building at Chestnut Expressway and National Avenue. Those plans faltered after $350,000 in state tax credits were withdrawn when board members listed in the Compass Institute application for the credits said they were not board members. The nonprofit organization filed suit against the state in February 1997 seeking the return of the tax credits. That case is still pending in Cole County.

SLICE OF NICE. The Storefront School, a project to assist elementary-age children who need special assistance in school, is looking to relocate downtown. The school's current location, at the SMSU Downtown Hall, is being renovated to accommodate a new program. The Storefront School is a joint project of Springfield Public Schools and SMSU. The school is asking for assistance with its relocation. It is looking for 2,000 square feet of space, provided free or at a nominal fee, with restrooms. If you have downtown space available to the Storefront School, or would like more information, call Lance T. Brown at the Urban Districts Alliance, 831-6200. The school now serves about 36 students and will need a new location by mid-August.

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