Hundreds of early fair-goers get a slice of Boone County ham

Mary Ann and Ken Burgen stood in line at 7 a.m. Saturday with hundreds of other breakfast-goers, eager to have their own slice of famous Boone County country-cured ham.

“I look forward to it because you see so many people,” Mary Ann Burgen said. “I’m curious what the hams will sell for. In fact, I want to buy one.”

Rally against Wal-Mart’s labor practices draws 3

Three residents braved the heat Saturday to hold signs and show their disdain for Wal-Mart.

“Fair Business Practices NOW,” read one of the signs, referring to the National Organization for Women. Local chapter member Seileach Corleigh organized the rally.

I get burned by all these tanning ideas

I grew up in an age where tanned bodies were beautiful bodies. There was no Surgeon General warning about the effects of the sun, just huge highway billboards with the Coppertone baby baring her white bottom to the world.

All my friends sported deep, dark tans by mid-May. And although I have dark hair (now from a bottle), I have fair skin and could never achieve the desired dark hue. Two reasons come to mind; one I HATE lying in the sun sweating, and two, when I did expose my body to the sun, I’d either burn or freckle. OK, maybe there were three reasons. Did I ever mention that I was pudgy as a youth? The last thing I wanted was to get nearly naked with a bunch of girls who thought a size 8 was fat. So I spent my teenage years lily white, which now I am told is a good thing.

State to study investments

ST. LOUIS — After considerable debate, the board of trustees for the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System unanimously voted on Thursday to adopt an amendment requiring investments to be screened for terrorist connections.

More than 94,000 members of the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System depend on the board to invest nearly $6 billion used for retirement, life insurance and long-term disability.

Group wants to assist youth exposed to meth

In the past, when the Boone County Sheriff’s Department would seize a meth lab where children were present, they would first try to place the children with family members, Sgt. Mike Stubbs said.

When children are taken from meth-producing environments and do not receive a medical exam, signs of abuse and other problems are missed, he said.

Public access TV not available with Charter

Pat Fowler is a victim of irony. She works 20 to 40 hours per month producing “Running Columbia” for public access television, but because Charter Communications has yet to air the channel, she and about 1,400 other Columbia-area residents have yet to see it in their homes.

Fowler and co-producer Jay Hasheider created “Running Columbia” for local runners. She has called city officials and Charter representatives and even voiced her complaint at a meeting of the Cable Television Task Force — all to no avail.

City says farewell to parks commissioner

Ann Gowans’ 20 years of service on the Parks and Recreation Commission got off to an unlikely start.

“A drunk driver almost killed my three children and me and my husband,” Gowans said. “We had this tragedy, and indeed it was a big tragedy for our family. But I never would have gone on this path otherwise, and it’s been my life work.”

The new queen reigns

The new Miss Boone County has a major weakness: funnel cakes. And after she was crowned Monday evening at the Boone County Fair, 19-year-old Erin Bagby treated herself to one.

Bagby, a Fayette High School graduate, has “been around the fair forever,” she said Thursday. Winning the 2005 crown was a big deal.

Heat wave

While air conditioners hum and lawns brown across Columbia, city utility officials are planning to issue a stringent water-use alert today and have not ruled out asking people to curtail their use of electricity.

The water-use alert, scheduled to be issued this morning, asks customers to water their lawns only every other day, said Connie Kacprowicz, a spokeswoman for Columbia Water and Light. It is the second of four water conservation levels used by the city-owned utility.

Stinging criticism aimed at fire chief

Todd Burke, a battalion chief for the Boone County Fire Protection District, and former Boone County volunteer firefighter Deb Diller asked the district’s board to act quickly on their allegations of unethical and unprofessional behavior by Fire Chief Steve Paulsell at a heated board meeting Thursday.

Burke and Diller spoke for more than an hour and a half, complaining that Paulsell disrespects his staff and lashes out with acts of retaliation against anyone who challenges him or Assistant Chief Sharon Curry, who they say is romantically involved with Paulsell.

Police cite gang law, arrest five

Five self-described members of a Columbia gang, which has gone by numerous names including the “Gambinos” and the “Coalition,” were arrested by police on suspicion of gang activity Wednesday night.

The gang activity charges are the first to be sought by Columbia police since the law was enacted in 2004.

Printing mistake leads to duplicate license plates

JEFFERSON CITY — About 1,500 Missouri motorists are driving around with new license plate numbers that actually belong to someone else. The Department of Revenue acknowledged Thursday that it printed 20,000 sets of duplicate license plates, 1,502 of which already had been distributed to motorists before officials learned of the mistake on July 8. The department said it notified the Missouri State Highway Patrol of the potential law enforcement problem on July 11, but it hadn’t publicized the problem.

Fair-goers flock to contests

With noses vibrating from their heavy breathing, they stretched out next to frozen water bottles, ice packs and plastic bags filled with ice cubes until the show began.

Unlike the preening and performing animals in other contests, the competitors at the Boone County Fair’s Rabbit Show didn’t do much. Fair-goers bathed and stroked their soft fur underneath a hot tin roof.

Business booming for AC technicians

After a few hot days in a row, Columbia’s air conditioning technicians can start to feel like 911 dispatchers.

When maintenance waiting lists reach double or triple their normal size, customers calling in will invent health problems in an effort to make their repair a priority, technicians said.

Air restored at the Boone County Fair

The Boone County Fairgrounds restored full air conditioning in the Multipurpose Building after concerns about how the fair board would cover the cost.

One of eight air conditioning compressors in the building broke earlier this month. The fair board, saying it lacked the money to do so, originally approached the Boone County Commission to see if it would pay for a replacement.

MU to retain national scholarship

High school students who want to get a National Merit Scholarship through MU won’t have to worry about the university following the actions of the University of California System.

The six-campus California system announced July 13 that it will redirect funding for the National Merit Scholarship program to other merit-based scholarships. The shift in funding will begin with freshmen entering the system in the fall of 2006.

Minority high school students get college tips

The Missouri Legislative Black Caucus’ Youth Leadership Conference, which prepares minority high school students from across the state for college, is being held through Saturday at MU.

“This conference gives students the chance to see colleges up close and personal for the first time,” said House Minority Whip Rep. Connie Johnson of St. Louis, who is co-chairwoman of the youth leadership conference.

Money, marijuana confiscated in central Columbia drug raid

A “couple thousand dollars” were seized in what police officers say are drug profits and a small amount of marijuana from a central Columbia residence Tuesday evening after serving a search warrant for cocaine.

Columbia police officers served the search warrant at 312 LaSalle Place at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday. A resident was detained and later released, Sgt. Scott Young said in a news release.

Student ID system developed

ST. LOUIS — Missouri public education officials are two-thirds of the way through a project to assign identification numbers to the state’s 905,000 public school students.

The 10-digit numbers, to be fully assigned by January, are designed to make it easier for school systems to track students and their standardized test scores.

Doctors in training

The smell of preserving chemicals was thick in a campus laboratory as a group of future medical students inspected their first cadaver and sutured cuts in pigs’ feet.

“I think this program has made my decision to go into medicine final,” said Alex Lohman, 17, of Oregon, Mo., as he leaned over one of the pigs’ feet.