Sounds of nature

Except for the sandy facial hair, the brown buggy eyes and the curled lips that seem almost double-jointed, Ralph Duren might be mistaken for a wild turkey. Or a barn owl. Or a coyote.

Squawking, gobbling and hooting, Duren, a 49-year-old public relations specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, has become well known in mid-Missouri as an animal caller, a skill that is making him famous throughout the nation. He plans to branch further out of Missouri, after retiring in another year, and make a living imitating the calls of the wild.

Bats plague city homes

Recent hot weather has created an unusual problem for some Columbia residents. Bats that often roost near buildings are seeking cooler temperatures inside people’s homes.

New county health official would warn public of outbreaks

Following a national trend, the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health plans to hire a public information specialist this fall to streamline local communication about health emergencies and bioterrorism.

Program brings news to MU students

Monday morning, MU joined more than 250 schools across the nation participating in USA Today’s Collegiate Readership Program. Copies of USA Today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times and the Columbia Missourian were distributed to all residence halls and Greek houses for students to read, almost free of charge.


A day with Jeff Johnson is dizzying and best expressed by the number of elevator rides he takes during the pregame hours.

Greenwell powers Mavs

The Mavericks Booster Club should have named Bill Greenwell the team MVP before every game.

After receiving the honor in a pregame ceremony, Greenwell led the Mavericks to an 11-4 victory against the Cook County Cheetahs on Wednesday at Taylor Stadium.

Unproven wideouts vs. new defenders

Although he is a sophomore, Kendrick Jones can claim seniority over his fellow wide receivers.

Jones is the only receiver on the Illinois team who has caught a pass in a game. He had one reception for 12 yards against Indiana in 2002.

‘Wild’ Bill shoots from the hip

Bill Hippe isn’t Bob Barker, but he’s close.

Many Columbians know “Wild” Bill by name, by face and by noise. A lot of it. The on-field emcee for Mid-Missouri Mavericks games, “Wild” Bill’s job is to generate fan excitement. The job requirements, though, do not include high stepping around the field, blurting out lines to famous movies and carrying on with fans even when he doesn’t have to.

Tigers young, but confident

Although the Missouri volleyball team is young, that hasn’t decreased the expectations placed on it.

A promising fall awaits Columbia College

Columbia College starts its sports year with a nationally ranked women’s volleyball team and a men’s soccer team looking to defend a conference championship.

Bruins’ pitching, defense dominate in shutout

Jennifer Mast was a little worried about her Rock Bridge softball team’s defense going into Wednesday night’s game against Smith-Cotton.

Another sultry day

Parents in the Columbia Public Schools should expect their children home early again today. For the third day in a row, district leaders decided to close schools early because of excessive heat, said Assistant Superintendent Chris Mallory. Schools will start closing at noon, beginning with those that are not fully air-conditioned. The last to close will be Lange Middle School at 2:15 p.m.

Clemons enrolls in classes at MU

Former Missouri guard Ricky Clemons is enrolled in classes full time at the MU for the fall semester, the Office of the University Registrar confirmed Tuesday.

Clemons was released from Boone County Jail on Sunday afternoon after serving a 60-day sentence. Classes started Monday.

Maxwell says no second term

JEFFERSON CITY — In a surprising announcement that could reshape Missouri’s political field, Democratic Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell said Tuesday he will not seek re-election next year because of his wife’s ill health.

“There are challenges in my life that as a husband and a father, I must put first,” Maxwell said while announcing he would not seek a second four-year term in 2004.

High court sets aside order for execution

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the death sentence of a man who was convicted of murder for killing a St. Louis-area woman when he was 17 years old.

The high court’s 4-3 decision relies on the U.S. Supreme Court’s reasoning in a 2002 ruling that barred the execution of mentally retarded people. The Missouri justices ruled that decision should apply to juveniles as well.

Earthlings to get intimate view of the Red Planet

People around the world await tonight’s party with Mars as its reaches its closest opposition to Earth in nearly 60,000 years. For more than a month, Doug Kniffen has been watching and photographing the Red Planet as it moves along its eccentric orbit.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve just felt a magnetic pull from the sky,” said Kniffen, an astronomy enthusiast with his own observatory near Warrenton.

Supreme Court discards appeal of tuition ruling

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday turned back the University of Missouri system’s appeal of a judge’s ruling that it illegally charged in-state tuition.

The state high court’s decision not to hear the case means a lower court judge will now have to determine the exact amount of damages in the case, which has been estimated at $472 million.

Full funding urged for Twilight Festival

Downtown Columbia might have its own celebration of the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark’s expedition next year.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board on Monday issued recommendations for how the city should distribute money from its Tourism Development Fund. The board suggested organizers of the Twilight Festival receive the full $12,594 they requested.

Red Cross tour to hit Columbia

The American Red Cross wants to save a life in Columbia today. The Save a Life Tour 2003, a nationwide campaign to encourage Americans to make regular blood donations, will be at Memorial Union on the MU campus between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for us to educate 23,000 students and the city of Columbia about the ongoing need for blood donations and give everyone an opportunity to save a life,” said Anne Farrow, donor recruitment account manager for the American Red Cross for Boone and Cooper Counties.

Bringing down your house

Insects the size of a grain of rice cause more than $1.5 billion in property damage each year to more than 600,000 homes in the United States. These tiny home-wreckers have a name that will likely send a chill up your spine if you own a home: termites.

Richard Houseman, an MU assistant professor of entomology and state urban entomology extension specialist, studies the biology of household insects. Ongoing termite research in his laboratory includes studies on the impact of mulches on termite activity, the effectiveness of soil insecticides and a study on termite behavior.