State Farm workers to tour Columbia

Columbia will play host this weekend to more than 80 employees from the State Farm operations center in Monroe, La. The company-sponsored trip is designed to show the city to employees who are considering relocating.

The visit comes about six weeks after State Farm announced it would close its Monroe facility and transfer as many as 300 jobs to its offices in Columbia. State Farm also plans to move another 200 jobs from Monroe to Tulsa, Okla.

Model school in city’s future goals

A new model school and a new administrative position are being considered by the Columbia Public School District to help district achievement and organization.

Superintendent Phyllis Chase outlined two recommendations to the Columbia Board of Education on Thursday: restructuring an elementary school in the district to make it a model school and adding a districtwide director of research, assessment and accountability.

Demand rises for intensive care for pets

A cat named Miss Annie lies in an incubator, undergoing a blood transfusion. She has been in the hospital since Feb. 23 because of problems with her kidneys and diabetes, and her owner has visited her every day. Miss Annie will never be completely well again, but veterinary technician Mary Flanders said she will soon feel good enough to go home one last time.

“We know she’s feeling better when she starts acting a little grouchy,” Flanders said.

Familiar faces

Of Missouri’s 63 possible NCAA Tournament opponents, Evan Unrau couldn’t believe the Tigers’ first-round matchup.

Like many walks of life, college basketball can seem like a small world, and when Missouri (17-12) plays Stanford (24-6) at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., Unrau will be in a familiar position.

Study: Early learning matters

Kindergartners build their knowledge not just by learning how to color in the lines and follow directions but also through experiences they have had before entering the classroom.

A new study by the Boone Early Childhood Partners and Project Construct National Center found that children in Columbia are more prepared to enter kindergarten than their peers in the rest of the state.

Match Day for MU School of Medicine

Packed into the hallway outside the MU Health Sciences Library with cameras, flowers and balloons, 74 MU medical students learned Thursday where they would perform their residencies.

As they opened the envelopes to reveal their match, tears fell and families hugged.

IRAQ: Civilian death count remains unclear

A year has passed since the first bombs were dropped in the U.S.-led coalition’s invasion of Iraq, and many questions have been raised about the validity of the war. But for human-rights activists, a more important question lingers: How many Iraqi civilians died during and after major combat?

Reports and surveys from humanitarian organizations and news agencies differ in scope, but all put their civilian casualty count above 3,000. Researchers and western journalists in Iraq say they are confident these estimates are reliable, but that the true number of deaths may never be known.

A wife waits and prays

Penny Smith of Hallsville got some bad news on her 27th wedding anniversary: Her husband, Stephen, had re-enlisted in the Army Reserves. She became even more upset when he got deployed to Fort Riley, Kan., two weeks before Christmas.

Then, just last month, she got the call that Stephen, 49, was going to Iraq.

Weapon permits available in Boone

Today is the first day in Boone County that applications will be taken for permits to carry a concealed weapon. The Hallsville Police Department will begin processing applications at 9 a.m.

A conceal-and-carry permit will cost $100, made in two separate checks or money orders: $38 to the Missouri State Highway Patrol and $62 to the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. No cash or credit cards will be accepted.

Cougars get by barrier

JACKSON, Tenn. — Most coaches say regular season wins and accomplishments are nice, but a team is ultimately measured by its postseason success.

The Columbia College women’s basketball team beat Wayland Baptist 71-57 Thursday in the first round of the NAIA Championship Tournament at Oman Arena. The Cougars were beaten in the first round the past two seasons despite winning the American Midwest Conference both years.

Three Tigers advance in NCAA Tournament

ST. LOUIS — Jeremy Spates got a little help from a muscle cramp.

Spates (24-6) won at 149 pounds in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in St. Louis, defeating Oklahoma’s Jeff Ecklof 3-2.

Calls to duty separate a local family

Roberta Howell, a member of the Missouri National Guard’s 1139th Battalion, returned home from Iraq on Jan. 16. Since then, she has been working with National Guard recruits at The Armory in Columbia and waiting to go to college in Warrensburg.

But what she really wants to do is return to Iraq.

Demonstrators to protest U.S. foreign policy, Iraq War

Placards with the name, age, rank and hometown of every American soldier who has lost his or her life in Iraq will be the most powerful symbol at a peace rally Saturday, according to rally organizers. The ID cards will represent pacifists’ desire for the troops to come home and for America’s foreign policy to be changed.

The placard is meant to be a “powerful symbol for this particular event,” said Mark Haim, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks director and one of the organizers of the event. “There have been other ventures (like this) before, representing the victims for 9/11 and the Holocaust for example, but wearing placards on this particular occasion seems to be a local idea.”

Preferred plan for I-70 unveiled

The plan to improve 18 miles of Interstate 70 was unveiled by the I-70 advisory group Thursday night.

The plan contains one alternative for each intersection along I-70, from Route J/O to Route Z,and is called the “preferred alternative.”

Another Carnahan joins the political arena

Former Columbia mayor Bob Smith welcomed a campaigning Carnahan to his home for the third time Thursday night. After hosting Mel and Jean during their political campaigns, Smith welcomed their daughter, Robin, to his home as she campaigns for secretary of state.

Almost 60 supporters gathered around Smith’s hunter-green and floral sofas to listen to Democratic candidate, Robin Carnahan, speak about her campaign.

MU football staff, hostesses quiet about recruiting policy

Although Big 12 Conference officials are publicly expressing concerns about the state of recruiting practices, Missouri football officials are keeping their concerns private.

With problems in the Big 12’s athletic programs mounting, its presidents and chancellors passed a resolution a week ago that will ask every school to do a thorough evaluation of their recruiting practices.

New routine

While getting ready for the Cat Classic in February, Alisha Robinson and Lauren Schwartzman watched a movie about football.

Missouri set a school record with a 197.350 at the meet. Schwartzman won the balance beam competition and tied with Robinson for the vault title. Robinson won the all-around.

Centralia prevails in overtime

With 15 minutes left in the third quarter, Centralia led 54-38 and Panthers coach David Meyers was ready to celebrate.

“I thought there was a chance we might go ahead and run away,” Meyers said.

New basketball arena to be called Paige Sports Arena

MU's new basketball arena will be named the Paige Sports Arena, University officials announced today. The arena will be named after Paige Laurie, daughter of Bill and Nancy Laurie, who donated $25 million toward the construction of the $75 million athletic facility.