Electric contract to raise city rates

For the next three months, Columbia residents will see a temporary 9.5 percent increase in their electricity bill.

The increase is the result of a new power contract with AmerenUE, rising natural gas prices and rising electricity transmission costs, said Jim Windsor, manager of rates and fiscal planning for Columbia. For an average household, which uses 1,200 kilowatt hours a month, the increase will be $7.46. The rate increase will be in effect for the months of July, August and September. In October, the City Council will be asked to raise electricity prices permanently with the passing of the city budget.

Climbing wall trial starts

A snapped cable dominated testimony Tuesday during the first day of the trial of the climbing-wall owner charged with involuntarily causing the death of a Jefferson City woman in July outside a Mid-Missouri Mavericks’ game.

Marcus Floyd is on trial for second-degree involuntary manslaughter in the death of Christine Ewing, 22, who fell more than 20 feet to her death when a cable broke on the portable climbing wall that Floyd owned. Floyd has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Second day of school smoother

On Tuesday morning, Skip Deming, assistant superintendent of instruction, said that administrators tried to identify which students were affected by the mix-up and continued to notify the parents of those children. Parents were given two options: Students could remain at the wrong school to which they were bused on the first day but find their own transportation, or be bused by the district to the correct school. Deming said most parents had the district transport their children.

Republican AG hopeful gets help from Keyes

Before a crowd of about 200 supporters, radio talk-show host and two-time presidential candidate Alan Keyes claimed that an erosion of America’s moral foundation was leading the nation toward a crisis, one that could soon determine the fate of both the U.S. Constitution and Americans’ basic freedoms. To avoid such a future, Keyes said Dewey Crepeau, a Columbia native, should be the one to replace Jay Nixon as the state’s attorney general.

Crepeau worked on Keyes’ 1996 bid for the presidency. Now Keyes is supporting Crepeau. Their similar views were one reason Crepeau gave for his choice of Keyes for his keynote speech; both referred to each other as men of honesty and integrity.

Rios inquiry under way

The Columbia Police Department has launched an internal-affairs investigation of Steven Rios, the officer who has been linked to homicide victim Jesse Valencia.

The investigation, which began Monday, is focusing on “issues related to policy and procedure violations,” Police Chief Randy Boehm said. The investigation is being led by Capt. Sam Hargadine, the department’s internal-affairs commander.

City compost piles up

Since the Solid Waste Division began selling compost to the public last fall, it has generated only $2,600 in revenue, less than expected for the nutrient-rich soil, landfill superintendent Cynthia Mitchell said.

Since 2002, the city had been selling its compost in bulk to businesses looking for landscaping material. But when the incoming yard waste and other compostable materials became overwhelming, the landfill purchased a compost screener to produce a finer, more marketable soil for homes and gardens. Mitchell said that by opening sales to individuals, the composting facility has attracted more customers.

Picture perfect, far from edible

Those appealing images have been cooked up by food stylists, individuals trained to prepare and arrange food. The ingredients they use make trying to discern between fact and fiction a recipe for indigestion.

Tim Rodgers, co-owner of Rodgers-Townsend Advertising, a St. Louis agency, says embellishing a product is perfectly legitimate.

Coffee grounds good compost for the ground, Starbucks says

“Grounds for Your Garden” invites people to pick up spent grounds from Starbucks to use as a compost ingredient.

Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and, when added to compost, can improve soil quality. The used grounds are acidic, however, and should be no more than 25 percent of compost content, according to Starbucks representative Megan Behrbaum. The acidity can be balanced by “liming” — adding one teaspoon of lime or wood chips for every five pounds of grounds.

System aims to aid court accuracy

Judge Gary Oxenhandler and court reporter Kristal Murphy use a real-time court reporting system. The system translates the shorthand that Murphy creates from testimony into readable text that is displayed instantaneously to attorneys and Oxenhandler on court-provided laptops. The record provided from the system is unofficial, and rules prevent attorneys from taking transcripts of the testimony out of the courtroom.

Summertime blues at local venues

“Jam-packed” does not come to mind when looking at the 15-foot gap between fans and the band Elf Power at Mojo’s.

A month ago, a full house at Mojo’s would not be uncommon. But by the end of May, collegiate concertgoers leave the town’s music venues working to keep crowds.

Peanut’s bat shells Mavs

This Peanut broke out of his shell at the wrong time for the Mid-Missouri Mavericks.

Peanut Williams, Windy City’s center fielder, had a career day as the Thunderbolts pounded the Mavericks 16-10 at Taylor Stadium on Tuesday.

Cougars report ineligible player

Columbia College self-reported to the NAIA on Tuesday that Ursulla Jose of Brazil played on the women’s basketball team despite being ineligible last season.

Jose, a freshman last year, played despite having a degree from the Universidade Salgado de Oliveira in Brazil. According to NAIA rules, a player has exhausted his or her eligibility once he or she has graduated.

Oakland Plaza Lanes set to close in summer

October would have been Oakland Plaza Lanes’ 30th anniversary, but it will never see that date.

Effective Aug. 1, Oakland Plaza Lanes, a 24-lane bowling alley at 2116 Vandiver Drive, will close.

Burleson earns academic honor

Missouri wrestler Kenny Burleson was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Men’s At-Large University Division third team Tuesday.

Burleson, who graduated in May, is the first MU wrestler selected as an Academic All-American since 1993. He was also named to the Academic All-District VII Men’s At-Large University Division team. He earned seventh place at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at 157 pounds.