Erickson describes killing of Tribune sports editor

In testimony that he described as “repressed memories” but that the defense said was riddled with inconsistencies, Charles Erickson described Monday how he and his high school friend beat and strangled to death a Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor “for no reason.” Erickson is the prosecution’s key witness in its case against Ryan Ferguson, who is charged with first-degree murder and second-degree robbery in the death of Kent Heitholt.

Stem cell ballot carries legislative repercussions

JEFFERSON CITY — A proposed ballot initiative to safeguard embryonic stem cell research in Missouri is likely to spawn a spirited advertising blitz for next year’s elections. But in the short term, it could have a quieting effect in the Missouri legislature — at least, that’s what some supporters of the measure are hoping.

After 23 years, an iconic shop falls

For soon-to-be-retired Tom Foster, the 2006 hunting season will be quite a bit different from the 23 that preceded it. “I will be hunting a lot more than I ever have,” said Foster, the owner of Tom Foster’s Bass Pro Shop on Business Loop 70 East. For the past 23 years, Foster has provided mid-Missouri sportsmen with all the “liquor, guns and ammo” they desired.

Man accused of assaulting woman, running car off road

Timothy M. Milligan, 33, of Columbia was arrested Saturday after his girlfriend said he assaulted her and ran her car off the road. A witness reported seeing a man strike and kick the woman in a downtown alley and carry her over his back to his vehicle, police said.

Columbia skating enthusiasts hope for rink closer to home

Columbia residents who for years have lobbied intensely for an ice rink will have their desires realized Nov. 8 if voters approve a sales tax extension to pay for the project. C.K. Hoenes, a Columbia native and lifelong hockey player, says an ice rink will complete the city, providing new recreational opportunities for children and adults.

Survey examines details of hunger

A new survey shows that slightly more than a third of mid-Missouri households needing help from a food pantry include at least one person who works 35 hours or more a week. Over the summer, MU and the Central Missouri Food Bank conducted a survey to find out who is affected by hunger and why. The survey looked at 1,200 clients at 54 food pantries and 10 mobile food pantries in 31 of the 33 counties served by the food bank. Responses were collected from the end of May to the beginning of August.

When media leaders get involved in city affairs ...

As Election Day approaches, two prominent Columbia media executives will be doing their best to persuade voters to approve six propositions placed on the ballot by the city of Columbia. Vicki Russell, associate publisher of the Columbia Daily Tribune, and Randy Wright, general manager ofKMIZ/Channel 17, accepted appointments from Mayor Darwin Hindman to serve as members of Columbia On the Move, a 30-member committee charged with promoting approval of Propositions 1 through 6, which seek sales taxes and a higher development charge to pay for an array of capital improvements over the next several years. Their membership on the committee prompts discussion about how involved media representatives should be in community affairs and whether their participation crosses any ethical lines.

Ice rink would need subsidy to operate

The city of Columbia almost certainly would have to subsidize the operation of an ice rink if voters approve its construction as part of Proposition 2 on the Nov. 8 ballot, officials say. Design details are sparse for the rink, which would cost an estimated $2.5 million to $3 million and would be combined with a multi-use building that would also include a farmers market, basketball and volleyball courts and other amenities. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said a detailed design process for the building will take place only if the proposition passes. To date, the city has only a conceptual drawing.

Both sides of the lens

What is life like in a small town? It’s Sunday in the center of Marshall, and it’s so quiet that one might expect to hear the ticking of the clock tower atop the Saline County Courthouse. That is, if the clock worked. Each side of the courthouse is frozen at a different time.

Diary of a float

In MU’s homecoming parade Saturday morning, about 125 entries cruised through campus and downtown Columbia. Everything a parade needs was there: marching bands, high-steppers, dancers pushing lawn mowers, little-girl gymnasts, go-carts, mules, famous people and homecoming royalty. And there were the floats, made by Greek houses, residence halls and community groups. Ornate, clever or tacky, floats began with the same rules and a shared goal: to be the best in show in their division.

Advocate seeks end of income tax

Bill Phelps has found new life in the political world. A Missouri lieutenant governor in the 1970s, Phelps has spent the past few years stumping for a federal tax system that he believes would be more fair than the current income tax. Phelps visited the Columbia Pachyderm Club, a local Republican Party organization, on Friday to promote the FairTax Act, which would abolish all federal income taxes and replace them with a federal retail sales tax. That, he said, would eliminate the need for the Internal Revenue Service and an annual tax day that has become the bane of many taxpayers’ existence.

Painting en plein-air

Called by some the Burr Oak, by others the Williamson Oak after the man who owns the property, the tree was the site of a plein-air painting session last spring for five local artists. The results are a major theme for an exhibit at A La Campagne in downtown Columbia, called Wallflower. The exhibit, which runs through Oct. 28, showcases work by Chris Frederick, Jane Mudd, Naomi Sugino, Gladys Swan and Carolyn Thompson. “That tree is a local landmark,” Swan said. “We thought it would be nice to show people that you can approach the same subject matter with different styles and perspectives. Each of us has certainly done it differently.”

Church and country music

As one band member sorts through his harmonica collection, another cracks open a fiddle case. It’s a quiet Sunday night in the Nashville Baptist Church, but not for long. Soon, the band is set up. In their ready hands are banjos, fiddles, guitars and microphones. They have a Christmas program coming up in the first week of December, and it’s time to practice.

Answering the big questions

Valley View Community Church first opened its doors at MU in 1979. The church grew as its members moved beyond the university. Today, Valley View, an evangelical church, has 185 members and is returning to its roots in an effort to expand again.

Act will focus on supply as key to cheaper gas

A bill aimed at addressing the high price of gasoline passed the House of Representatives on Oct. 7. The Gasoline for America’s Security act seeks to lower gas prices by increasing refining capacity, streamlining fuel supplies and providing transparency in gas pricing. U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., said the act would reduce the pinch car owners have been feeling at the pump.

Stricter eminent domain bill gains rural support

Jefferson City — Rural Missouri democrats announced a bill Thursday that would prohibit the state from taking private land for private development. The group said the governor’s task force on eminent domain was failing to fully consider the needs of rural Missourians. The Private Property Protection Act would prohibit private property being taken for private gain. The bill would not stop the traditional use of eminent domain to take land for public use such as schools and roads.

MU phones to go digital

MU and CenturyTel of Missouri announced a new partnership Thursday to bring Internet telephone service to the university campus. The service uses a system known as Voice over Internet Protocol that takes analog audio signals, the kind you hear when talking on the phone, and turns them into digital signals that can be transmitted over the Internet. gets hit by virus, the Internet social directory to which thousands of college students across the United States belong, issued a virus warning to its members Wednesday. An e-mail sent to all members explained that the Web site staff has received notification of virus and spam e-mails that look like “crush” or romantic messages or ask for recipients’ e-mail addresses and passwords. Clicking on links included in the e-mails could infect computers with viruses or make e-mail accounts vulnerable to spam.

A golden harvest

At Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, a bright red combine is a striking contrast to an overcast sky and a wooded limestone and prairie backdrop. Crickets chirp a loud song above the combine’s whirling noise as it winds up and down a field of greenish-brown soybeans. The blades of the combine, like black wide-tooth combs pieced together, spin in a circle through a field of the three-foot-high crop. Beanstalk bits spray onto the ground as the combine pushes forward and a puff of plant particles slowly settle. Fresh combine tracks appear on the damp ground. It’s harvest time for Robert and Marvin Sapp. The brothers have been working this land since the late 1930s when they were children.

More people ride city buses

Rising gas prices, new routes and improved punctuality have all contributed to a 14.3 percent increase in residents riding city buses since September 2004, said Mark Grindstaff, public works supervisor at the Wabash station. In September, when gas prices spiked following Hurricane Katrina, Columbia Transit logged 5,199 more rides than in August. The figure for September was 52,303, compared with 45,766 in September 2004. As a regular passenger on city buses, Herbert Johnson said he noticed an improvement in buses running on time.