Bur oak branch [Photo]

When John Sam Williamson Jr.'s big bur oak was grafted, a portion of the tree, similar in size to the branch above, was removed and placed on a stump so that a new tree with the exact genetic makeup of the big bur oak would grow. One such "cloned" tree lies in Williamson's backyard, though it is about 330 years younger than its predecessor.

Original big bur oak tree [Photo]

The 350-plus-year-old big bur oak, which is planted on John Sam Williamson Jr.'s property, has such a strong genetic makeup that it has survived extreme flood and drought. The tree's superior genes make it ideal for grafting.

Enrollment facts [Graphic]

Whip and tongue grafting [Graphic]

Taxiing in the money [Photo]

Betsy and Rick Lacy meet on June 25 at their Columbia office to process the credit card receipts that have accumulated from their passengers.

Dollar beer and rainy nights [Photo]

Rick Lacy waits for closing time outside Willie's Bar in Columbia early in the morning of June 10. Lacy had hoped that the bar's dollar beer promotion and the rainy conditions would garner him some late night fares, but on this evening most patrons already had rides or decided to walk.

Taxi driving in Columbia [Photo]

Rick Lacy takes a break from driving his taxi to chat with his employee and fellow driver, Eric Niles, on June 9. Lacy and his wife, Betsy started, their cab company in January of this year with one minivan and now own three.

Vacation Bible School reaches out to Columbia Youth [Slideshow]

Despite the economic climate, Columbia churches are spending as much as $4,000 on programming, including expanding kids' small-motor skills. The curriculm helped acquaint them with Scripture through reciting Bible passages.

A match made in doggie heaven [Photo]

Jessica Schlosser, left, introduces her newly crowned homecoming king Rocco to Libby Burks, right, and her dog Lola who won homecoming queen at the Hound Dog Homecoming hosted by the Central Missouri Humane Society on Sunday in Columbia. Contestants for the homecoming king and queen title raised more than $4,000 dollars for the Central Missouri Humane Society.

Royal portrait [Photo]

Lola, left, the homecoming queen, Rocco, center, the homecoming king, and Polly, a member of the royal court, are posed for pictures at the Hound Dog Homecoming fundraiser hosted by the Central Missouri Humane Society on Sunday in Columbia. Patrons had a variety of pet activities to choose from such as painting, bobbing for hot dogs and a doggy kissing booth.

Puppy pageant [Photo]

Libby Burks, left, tries her dog Lola's homecoming queen crown on the pageant runner-up, Amanda Huhman's dog Polly, at the Hound Dog Homecoming fundraiser hosted by the Central Missouri Humane Society on Sunday.

A walking school bus [Photo]

From left, Mayshonna Hutt, Megan Hayday, Chris Hayday, Maddie Hayday and Raelee Burse walk to Russell Boulevard Elementary School in April 2006. Chris Hayday used to walk with his children to school, which grew into him leading an organized group to the school. Hayday then joined with PedNet, which runs the Walking School Bus program. The program needs to find $75,000 to cover costs for the 2009-2010 school year.

Blue tree becomes neighborhood landmark [Photo]

Former MU animal sciences professor James Ross painted this apple tree blue after it contracted a disease and died last year. “I think a dead tree in the yard is like a big middle finger,” neighbor Leslie Shaw joked. “When I saw it, I told James to paint it purple.” Ross found blue paint at a garage sale, and the joke was born.

Former volunteer firefighter saves his own home from blaze [Photo]

Firefighters investigate a fire at 2408 Katy Lane on Sunday at the home of Steve and Dana Fedenia of Columbia. The fire was extinguished by Steve Fedenia, far right, with a garden hose before fire crews arrived. The fire originated at the front left corner of the garage, Battalion Chief Gary Warren said. Fedenia is a former volunteer firefighter with the Boone County Fire Protection District. No one was injured in the fire.

Billy Mays dies at 50 [Photo]

In this Dec. 6, 2002 photo,TV pitchman Billy Mays poses with some of his cleaning products at his Palm Harbor, Fla., home. Mays, the television pitchman known for his boisterous hawking of products such as Orange Glo and OxiClean, has died. He was 50.

Motorcycle collision leaves two drivers injured [Photo]

A police officer conducts traffic at the scene of a motorcycle accident on Missouri 163 on Sunday in Columbia. Two motorcycles southbound on Missouri 163 just east of Providence Road collided in a rear-end collision. The driver on the inside lane reached to swat a bee that flew inside his shirt and crossed in front of the other motorcycle, said Tony Helfrecht of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Helfrecht said the two drivers and a passenger were moderately injured, and all were wearing helmets.

World's Ugliest Dog [Photo]

Pabst competes in the World's Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on Friday in Petaluma, Calif. The toothy 4-year-old Boxer mix won top honors.

Woodcrest Chapel pastor targets 'fellow stragglers' [Photo]

Pieter Van Waarde has had a 15-year ministry at Woodcrest Chapel in Columbia. His preaching style is generally conversational and casual, and he suggests through his ministry that Woodcrest is a place for people to come who are uncertain about their religious beliefs. His series is targeted toward this demographic, a group of "fellow stragglers" who have not yet formed strong convictions about their faith.

Summer sabbatical program offers local pastors opportunity [Photo]

Pastor Paul H. Moessner of St. Andrew's Lutheran Church is attending the summer sabbatical program of Institute for the Study of Evangelism and Congregational Development, an institute of the Theological Faculty of the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University, in Greifswald, Germany. Moessner stands in the foreground of Greifswald's gothic-baroque town hall and central market square.

Show-Me State Games youth football [Photo]

Columbia Colts player Nash Sutherlin, center, glances to his right before being tackled by Isaiah Johnson of the St. Louis Prime Time Panthers. Alexander Dupree, left, and Zachary Balentin, right, surround the tackle.