Red-letter day

It’s a new year, and second-graders at Russell Boulevard Elementary are all a bit richer. If you’re thinking you’ve missed something, don’t worry. The world is not on fast forward.

Thursday marked the first day of the Chinese New Year, and local restaurant owner Amy Chow used the occasion to visit her niece’s classroom to give students a quick lesson on the holiday and a bit of money.

Two more join race for mayor

Two local residents entered Columbia’s mayoral race on Thursday, creating a unique situation for incumbent Darwin Hindman whose position has not been contested since he was elected mayor in 1995.

Arch Brooks, CEO of Brooks Computing Systems Inc., and John Clark, president of the North Central Neighborhood Association, filed to run in the April election just before the 5 p.m. deadline Thursday. Brooks is also running for a seat on the Columbia Board of Education.

Hidden guns debate heard by high court

JEFFERSON CITY — The intense, decade-long battle over whether Missourians should have the right to carry concealed weapons reached a pinnacle Thursday, as state Supreme Court judges questioned whether a new law allowing hidden guns violates an old constitutional provision.

The assumption heading into the hearing — as determined by a St. Louis circuit judge’s ruling — was that concealed guns are prohibited under a state constitutional section dating to 1875.

Electability key in N.H. debate

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Democratic presidential contenders offered competing claims of their electability against President Bush on Thursday night in the final debate before next week’s New Hampshire primary.

“I look forward to that fight,” said Sen. John Kerry, winner of this week’s Iowa caucuses and leader in the polls for New Hampshire’s Tuesday primary as well.

Housing agencies to receive aid

As Columbia faces a shortage of affordable housing, local housing assistance agencies will receive money today from the Missouri Housing Development Commission.

The commission plans to approve $6.25 million in grants statewide from the Missouri Housing Trust Fund. Four of the 188 applications came from Columbia-based groups.

School district struggles with budget crunch

Paying teachers more versus cutting jobs was at the heart of a discussion Thursday by the Columbia Board of Education.

“I would love to raise salaries, but if we have to cut more teachers ... it is a tension, a balancing act,” said board member Karla DeSpain.

Suicide attempt at jailhouse

Officials at the Boone County Jail are investigating how an inmate managed to take a large amount of prescribed medication in an apparent suicide attempt early Thursday morning.

Officers conducting floor checks found Lucille Duncan slumped over in her cell at about 4:15 a.m.

Couple grants easement on Huntsdale acreage

The Mid-Missouri Greenbelt Coalition announced this week that it acquired 18 acres of land near Huntsdale last month. The land was donated by a Columbia couple who wanted to limit development on their property.

The donation is a conservation easement between the Greenbelt Coalition and Tom and Marilyn Vernon. The agreement relinquishes development rights of the grassy hills and gullies off of Nebo Cemetery Road in Huntsdale to the coalition. The land includes a one-acre vineyard of Norton grapes.

Acting to avoid Alzheimer’s

Penny Braun lost her mother to Alzheimer’s in 1995, and the experience acted as a catalyst for Braun’s decision to help others who have to deal with the disease.

As executive director of the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Braun several years ago heard about taking vitamins C and E as a hedge against the disease and decided to begin the regimen herself. At 62, she’s closing in on the age at which the disease often begins showing up.

More than a resource

One month after her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, Christine Cook turned to the Central Missouri Branch of the Arthritis Foundation for help.

Crystal Brady was on the other end of the line, and the two talked for more than a hour.

Consultant sees ways to better school funding

JEFFERSON CITY — A legislative consultant said Thursday that Missouri’s method of school funding can be made more equitable without raising any new money.

Craig Wood, a University of Florida professor hired to help legislators improve the state’s school funding formula, gave a preliminary report to the Interim Committee on Education.

MU’s hotel plan gains support

A Columbia organization of business and community leaders will announce this morning that it supports MU’s plan to lease property for construction of a hotel and convention center at College Avenue and Stadium Boulevard, says one of the organization’s leaders.

Supporting the lease is a new group called Community Leaders Supporting Economic and Cultural Growth, which will meet at 10 a.m. in the backstage area of MU’s Jesse Auditorium. Legislators, university officials and community leaders are expected to attend.

Ashland woman seeks seat in House

Republican Carole Iles of Ashland officially announced her candidacy for the 24th District House seat Thursday night to a room packed with her supporters at the Southern Boone County Senior Center in Ashland.

After a meal of chili and hot dogs, Iles outlined the reasons for her candidacy and the goals she hoped to accomplish if elected.

Tigers need winning streak

Time might be running out for Missouri.

For a team some predicted to go to the Final Four, moral victories can mean only so much.

Stepping up

Tiffany Foote is Columbia College’s shortest player, but facing larger competition is nothing new to her.

Foote, a junior point guard, started playing organized basketball in fifth grade but first competed in her back yard with her two older brothers.

Fisher takes vocal role

Senior Melanie Fisher doesn’t do it often, but she is starting to yell.

Missouri plays at Kansas at 3 p.m. Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.

First win gives Kewpies high hopes

It might have been a long road to the wrestling team’s first victory, but Hickman will not have to travel far for its next challenge.

After earning their first dual victory of the season on Tuesday, the Kewpies will host the Hickman Invitational Tournament this weekend. Matches will begin at 5 p.m. today and continue at 9 a.m. Saturday. The 12-team tournament will include Rock Bridge and schools from as far away as Kansas.

Tigers hoping to use track meet as a learning tool

Fans of the Missouri track team should plan to learn some new names today.

The Tigers will host the 15th annual Missouri-Kansas-Kansas State Triangular at 4 p.m. today at Hearnes Center.