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PERIODISTA. The U.S. and Mexican governments have issued commemorative stamps in honor of an SBJ editor's birthday, or perhaps marking a historic Mexican military victory over imperialist Europeans back in 1862. Whichever, the date is May 5 - Cinco de Mayo for our bilingual readers. The U.S. stamp, featuring contemporary dancers in traditional Mexican costume, was issued April 16 in San Antonio, Texas. Ceremonies on the same day in Mexico City marked the issuance of a stamp based on the U.S. design. The north-of-the-border stamp was designed by Robert Rodrigues of Pasadena, Calif. "We take great pride in the way our stamp program advances public knowledge and promotes awareness of our rich national heritage," said Richard Porras, vice president and controller of the U.S. Postal Service. "Indeed, stamps are often called our nation's calling cards because they focus attention on the people and the subjects our country regards with respect and affection." Quite an honor for a simple Springfield boy.

BEER NO EVIL. May 3 is International Beer Fest, the third annual version, at the University Plaza Convention Center. More than 100 domestic and imported brews will be featured at the event, which benefits Springfield Little Theatre, Springfield Symphony, Springfield Ballet and Springfield Regional Opera not to mention Springfield beer drinkers. If you're 21 years old or older, you can get in for $25, or $20 with advanced ticket purchase at the Brown Derby International Wine Center, the Landers box office or Springfield Brewing Company. Participants who have a bit too much fest can catch a ride home from the Yellow Cab Company with the Hop a Ride Home service provided by Oldies 105.1.

BID FOR FAIRNESS. In an open letter to the board of Springfield Public Schools, the Springfield Contractors Association has expressed its opposition to project agreements excluding any category of contractors from bidding on district projects and to the "blacklisting" of companies accused of violating state prevailing wage laws. The April 21 letter from SCA President Randall S. Hawkins said "both of these policies are contrary to the fundamental purposes of the statutes which require competitive bidding on public construction projects." Recent published reports in the News-Leader said some board members met with union representatives to discuss project agreements to use only union contractors. "Our member firms include both open shop employers and unionized employers who work side by side in cooperation with one another," Hawkins' letter said. And, the SCA missive said, any blacklisting of companies merely accused of violating prevailing-wage laws does not allow for the due process protection required for the state to certify a company proved guilty of such violations. "It would be unnecessary, unwise and unlawful for any firm to be blacklisted without a due-process, name-clearing hearing," the letter said.

DOLLAR A DAY, IT'S WORTH. The latest Springfield's Economy Today is out. The publication, prepared by the City Planning and Development Department and the city's Public Information Office, shows that the cost of a shopping basket of various groceries rose 2.8 percent from March 1997 to March 1998. During the same time, monthly expenditures such as gasoline, rent, dry cleaning, day care and the like rose 4.4 percent. Springfield's cost of living, however, remained relatively low at 92.4 on a scale averaged at 100. St. Louis registered a cost-of-living score of 98 and Kansas City had a 95.8. Information tracking Springfield's labor force from 1992 through the end of last year showed unemployment dropping to 3 percent in December 1997, down from a 5.1 percent unemployment rate for the 1996 year. And that higher rate of employment comes with more folks in the labor market: Springfield had a civilian labor force of 167,600 in December, up 22 percent from the 137,200 in the labor force in 1992.

SLICE OF NICE. The 13th annual Benefit Buddy Bass Tournament will be held May 2 at What's Up Dock Marina on Table Rock Lake in Kimberling City. The event benefits the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks in Springfield and is conducted by Missouri Lakes Bass Club. The tournament has a $15,000 guaranteed cash purse paying 20 places, which includes a $1,000 top prize for the Big Bass. Trophies will be awarded for the first-, second-, third-place and Big Bass winners. This year's tournament is expected to generate more than $40,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks. Registration by mail for the tournament is available by calling the House at 886-0225. Registration will also be held at the Kimberling Inn Resort & Conference Center 4-7 p.m. May 1 and 5-7 a.m. May 2 at the Highway 13 campground pavilion. For more information, contact Bonnie Keller at 886-0225.

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