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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.

MU bridge finds a new haven at peace center

Robin Remington knew she needed a new bridge to complete the renovation of Peace Haven International in Columbia, so she was delighted when she was able to buy one from an MU surplus auction; her landscaper stumbled upon it when looking for a truck.

The pine bridge — 12 ½ feet long and weighing 850 pounds — was built for a national wooden bridge building competition by the Mizzou Timber Bridge Team. It represents more than six months of design and three months of construction work, said Caleb Philipps, an MU civil engineering major and president of the team.

Water utility: Ease up, folks

As temperatures hit the century mark Wednesday, the Columbia Water and Light Department issued its first water conservation advisory in several years. The department is asking residents to voluntarily cut back on their water use.

“The system’s under strain,” said department spokeswoman Connie Kacprowicz. “It’s getting more difficult for us to catch up at night refilling the reservoirs.”

Civil War sites to be marked

While the 150th anniversary of the Civil War remains six years away, the Columbia Conventions and Visitors Bureau is already working with the Missouri Civil War Foundation to make Columbia and Boone County a prominent part of the observance.

The bureau gave $2,000 to the foundation to establish and promote awareness of a driving trail through Columbia that will showcase important Civil War sites.

Choosing courage

A Columbia man and four of his friends rescued two teenagers from a burning pickup truck Tuesday, picking their way over scattered shotgun shells and flowing gasoline to get to the accident victims.

The teens were on their way to work at a gun range off St. Charles Road northeast of Columbia when the driver apparently lost control of the truck and struck a tree about 11 a.m.

Correction

A story in Monday’s special section, “Faith, Ethics & Values in Columbia,” included an incorrect translation of Baha’u’llah, founder of the Bahai faith. The name means “The Glory

of God.”

Cuts feared for anti-drug efforts

KANSAS CITY — A plan to cut money currently provided for local drug enforcement has officials in Missouri and Kansas worried it could hamstring their efforts to corral methamphetamine use.

The Bush Administration wants to eliminate $634 million now provided through the Byrne Grant program for drug task forces and cut funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which targets the most drug-infested areas, from $227 million to $100 million.

MU parking developments keep pace with car culture

Recently, Jim Joy, MU director of Parking and Transportation for the last 25 years, retold a story about a prospective student who asked whether he could be guaranteed a covered parking space for his Porsche.

“Making your choice of schools based on a parking space is a very poor decision,” Joy said he told the student incredulously.

Fair draws crowd in spite of heat

“Piggies!” squealed 18-month-old Aylie Haubner of Columbia, pointing at two black and white swine before climbing atop a small green tractor, pedaling only a few feet, scaling down and rushing over to a cage of turkeys.

Aylie made her first visit to the Boone County Fair on Wednesday, toddling around the Children’s Barnyard to introduce herself to the dozens of farm animals on hand.

Bush court pick leans conservative

Despite a pedigree of consistent conservatism that has won him the favor of President George Bush, potential future decisions by Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. remain a mystery, Missouri legal experts and politicians said.

“There are still question marks and there are no guarantees,” said Rick Hardy, an MU political science professor and constitutional law expert with a past in Republican politics.

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