Keeping the habit

Jeff Pitts can’t remember how many times he’s tried to quit smoking. At 25 years old, the Columbia native says he has been a heavy smoker for a decade.

In the past six months alone, Pitts has made “two or three” failed attempts to kick the habit.

Session’s first day marked by quarrels

JEFFERSON CITY — Words of bipartisanship and compromise quickly gave way to criticism and demands on the opening day of Missouri’s 2004 legislative session.

In her opening remarks, House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, R-St. Louis County, offered her hand to the governor in apology and cooperation.

181 jobs to be lost as call center closes

A telemarketing center at Parkade Center will close March 1, cutting 181 jobs, according to a company official. About half of the 181 jobs are full-time positions.

Jeffrey Johnson, human resources manager at the Columbia call center operated by Americall Group Inc. — formerly Business Response Inc. — said the decision to close was related, in part, to industry fallout from no-call lists.

Columbia burgers shed the bread

It isn’t quite like Jimmy Buffett’s cheeseburger in paradise, but it could be heaven for an Atkins dieter.

With low-carb diets sweeping the nation, fast-food chains are tinkering with that great American tradition, the hamburger.

Mayor to announce whether he’ll run

Mayor Darwin Hindman will announce this morning whether he will run for re-election when his term expires in April. He has served three terms and has been in office since 1995. He is holding a news conference at 9:30 a.m. at his Walnut Street law office. “As far as I’m concerned, things have been going pretty well,” Hindman said. — Blythe Terrell

Outwit. Outplay. Out-audition.

In the age of reality television with shows ranging from temptations on a deserted island to painting zebra stripes on your neighbor’s wall, Americans can get their 15 minutes of fame in more ways than ever. Patricia Tolentino knows exactly where she wants to get hers.

Tolentino, 21, brought a guitar to the Columbia Mall on Wednesday and hoped to stand out among other “Survivor” contestants with a song she had written the night before. Her song demonstrated her love for “Survivor” over other reality shows.

Airport drops in safety ratings

For the first time in 10 years, the Federal Aviation Administration found problems at Columbia Regional Airport that need attention.

The four problems discovered during the FAA annual inspection on Dec. 9 were...

Columbia detective awarded

Columbia Police Detective Emerson “Skip” McGuire, the father of two young children, says working with abused children has deeply affected him.

McGuire has been an officer with the Columbia Police Department since 1983. For the past six years, he’s investigated child abuse and sex crimes — about 130 cases a year — as part of the department’s Family Services Unit. He also instructs officers throughout the state on how to interview children and trains officers in his own department on how to deal with child abuse.

Weather balloon initially creates scare

A northwest Boone County resident found a small package attached to an orange parachute in her yard Tuesday evening, but a bomb squad and firefighters determined that the device was a harmless weather balloon.

The resident, identified by the Boone County Fire District as Connie Coil, notified an off-duty sheriff’s deputy after she found the item about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Another sad ending

AMES, Iowa. – Missouri senior Rickey Paulding’s turnover struggles continued to plague him Wednesday night against Iowa State. His most costly fumble yet helped the Cyclones to their first win in Big 12 Conference play.

Once again, the Tigers fought an early deficit but fell short during the game’s final seconds, and the Cyclones won 70-65 at Hilton Coliseum.

Platoon system not perfect

AMES, IOWA — A timely substitution can swing momentum. Bringing a fresh player into the lineup can help overcome an imposing deficit.

It can also work the other way, replacing a cohesive group with an inconsistent one.

Tigers tumble without Bond

Missouri’s first major injury of the season could not have come at a worse time.

With the Tigers beginning the Big 12 Conference schedule on the road against No. 11 Kansas State, Missouri learned that point guard LaToya Bond will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken left foot she suffered last weekend.

Gardner shines in MU loss

AMES, Iowa – Thomas Gardner nearly saved the Missouri men’s basketball team Wednesday night.

Athough the Tigers lost to Iowa State 70-65 at Hilton Coliseum, it could have been much worse without Gardner’s play. Gardner scored a team-high 17 points in 13 minutes starting in place of senior guard Josh Kroenke for the second straight game.

One time Missouri foes meet in playoffs

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Defensive ends Mike Rucker and Grant Wistrom first met as high school sophomores playing against each other in Missouri. Rucker claims he used a hard hit to tackle Wistrom, then a tight end, for a loss.

The two were later teammates at Nebraska, and will cross paths once again Saturday when Rucker and the Carolina Panthers play Wistrom and the St. Louis Rams in the divisional playoffs.

Hindman to run for 4th term

With a "Hindman for Mayor" yard sign propped up behind him, Mayor Darwin Hindman announced Thursday he will run for re-election.

"I'm proud to have served three terms as mayor and would be proud to be re-elected," he said.