A rare Ozark hellbender [Photo]

A rare Ozark hellbender crawls out from under a rock inside its tank on June 9 at the Ron Goellner Center for Hellbender Conservation at the St. Louis Zoo.

Lost funding for Columbia Public Schools [Graphic]

Christmas in July a hit with kids [Photo]

Molly Schooley, 9, and Austin Bruns*, 7, of Harrisburg, Mo., are greeted by Santa (Don Waltman) as they make their way to the Christmas in July event hosted by Columbia's Voluntary Action Center. Christmas in July took place at the Missouri United Methodist Church.

Pujols scoops president's pitch [Photo]

President Barack Obama throws the ceremonial first pitch to the St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols at Tuesday night's MLB All-Star game at Busch stadium in St. Louis.

Saving the hellbender [Video]

Jeff Briggler, a state herpetologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, discusses the plight of North America’s largest salamander, the hellbender. The footage of the hellbenders seen in this video was taken from the St. Louis Zoo’s Ron Goellner Center for Hellbender Conservation and is courtesy of Mark Wanner, zoological manager of reptiles, amphibians and aquatics.

Mark Wanner with a hellbender [Photo]

Mark Wanner, zoological manager for reptiles, amphibians and aquatics for the St. Louis Zoo, holds a maturing Ozark hellbender that is nearing the age for fertilizing eggs, a key part of the reinstatement process and conservation effort at the center.

How Missouri cell phone laws compare [Graphic]

After six attempts to pass legislation limiting drivers' use of cell phones, Missouri legislators have passed a bill banning text messaging while driving for people 21 and younger.

Texting while driving [Photo]

Realtor Brent Gardner, of ReMAX, navigates the streets of downtown Columbia while talking on his cellular phone on July 10. Real estate agents, who often use their cars as mobile offices, have strongly opposed cell-phone restrictions. “My office is the city of Columbia,” Gardner said. “My job is a little different than most people in that I’m mobile.”

Local business owner refused loans [Photo]

Tom Kardon Sr. poses for a portrait inside Tom's Imports repair shop. Kardon is in the process of opening a parts store at 1001 N. Providence Road, freeing up space in his old shop. However, he was refused loans to purchase equipment to open the new parts store.

Tom's Imports trying to open new location [Photo]

Tom Kardon Sr. and his son, Tom Kardon Jr., help a customer at their repair shop, Tom's Imports. The Kardons are opening a new store at 1001 N. Providence Road to alleviate the clutter at their current location.

Owner of Tom's Imports seeks to rezone again [Photo]

Tom Kardon is opening a new parts store at 1001 N. Providence Road, while keeping his old shop for repairs. He is trying to rezone the land so he can rent out half of the shop to a retail business, which would lower the operating costs of the store.

Training Joint Communication operators [Photo]

Michanne O'Dell, a communications operator for Joint Communications, trains Jade Mooney on how to answer 911 calls Wednesday. The dispatch center needs five more employees to be fully staffed, according to Interim Director Zim Schwartze. "You should see when a storm hits or there's an accident on I-70 ... We're stretched pretty thin in here," she said.

Joint Communication operator answers call [Photo]

Michanne O'Dell, a communications operator for Joint Communications, answers a nonemergency call on Wednesday.

Spray and strikes in high numbers [Graphic]

Columbia Police Department use of force [Graphic]

GRAPHIC | Between January 2002 and March 2009, the Columbia Police Department reported and investigated 1,027 use-of-force incidents. Of the 1,027, two were found to be improper.

Lucille “Lucy” Coleman [Photo]

Lucille "Lucy" Coleman, 82, celebrates her retirement as owner and manager of Lucy's Burgers and Beverages in McBaine, Mo. She ran the bar for 51 years before selling it to her great-nephew Larry Morris in early June.

Lucy's Burgers and Beverage [Video]

Lucy’s Burgers and Beverages [Photo]

The day before selling her bar, Lucille "Lucy" Coleman sips her afternoon refreshment -- Diet Coke on ice with a splash of vodka. After two heart attacks by age 82, Coleman insisted her doctors approved of her daily ritual. Now that she's sold Lucy's Burgers and Beverages to her great-nephew Larry Morris, Coleman doesn't spend as much time in the place.

Shaving heads for the Dream Factory [Video]

Fire and police personnel showed their support on Sunday for Dream Factory, an organization that provides once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to children with chronic or critical illnesses, by shaving their heads.

Members of the Boone County Fire District, Columbia Fire Department, Columbia Police Department and Fulton Fire Department asked the public to donate funds to the national organization in exchange for their bald heads.

Rainer Glaser floats down Missouri River [Photo]

Rainer Glaser, a Columbia resident, points to the storm clouds in the distance while floating down the Missouri river for the Big Canoe Float on Saturday. The Big Canoe Float was postponed once due to weather but eventually was rescheduled. The event did eventually get rained on, but most canoers found it a welcome relief from the heat of the sun on the river.