Columbia’s sales tax rate ranks 10th but ...

Columbia has the 10th-highest sales tax rate among the 65 Missouri cities with populations of more than 10,000, according to figures released by city Finance Director Lori Fleming. Of the 65 cities, 34 have sales tax rates greater than or equal to Columbia’s, according to the news release.

Panel offers competing views of tax propositions

The League of Women Voters held its first tax forum Thursday night to open a dialogue on the six tax proposals voters will face on the Nov. 8 ballot. Mayor Darwin Hindman and City Manager Ray Beck spoke in favor of the tax initiatives. Ben Londeree and Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, members of Timely and Responsible Road Infrastructure Financing, spoke against the proposals.

Board toughens high school graduation requirements

Columbia students who enter high school in the fall of 2006 will face tougher graduation requirements than upperclassmen do. The state Board of Education approved new requirements Thursday thatincrease the minimum number of graduation credits from 22 to 24. Eighth-graders set to graduate in 2010 will be the first class affected by the decision.

Gov. BlUNT lauds new health care premiums

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Matt Blunt said Wednesday that newly required premiums for a children’s health insurance program are a reasonable step that helps build personal responsibility. His remarks came after children in thousands of families lost their state-funded health care this week because their parents failed to pay the premiums.

Understanding and testing HIV/AIDS

A local group hopes hip-hop disc jockeys and a party atmosphere will attract young people to Douglass Park Sunday for free HIV and Hepatitis C tests. The Regional AIDS Interfaith Network of Columbia is holding its annual HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C testing event to raise awareness of serious diseases that affect Boone County. Although the epidemic remains in the public’s eye, many young people don’t realize their actions put them at risk.

Columbia charities going strong

There is enough charitable money to go around this year, despite more donations going to the Red Cross and Salvation Army for hurricane relief, said Columbia area charities. Fears that smaller charities will be left behind could be unfounded, but, local resources likely will need more volunteers to assist with those who have relocated. Past disasters proved there was little effect on the overall amount of money donated to local charities, said Cyndy Chapman, spokeswoman for the Columbia Area United Way.

Coming attraction: Ragtag, showing on two screens

Act I, Scene I: Setting: Ragtag Cinemacafé, 23 N. Tenth St.Premise: Ragtag and Uprise Bakery are moving to the former Kelly Press location, 10 Hitt St., next summer.

Potluck attempts to unite Jews, Muslims

More than 50 Muslims and Jews gathered in MU’s Gwynn Hall on Thursday night to break their fasts for the day and share their beliefs with one another. The potluck dinner, sponsored by Boone Tikkun, was held on the second day of Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting and reflection for Muslims, and on Gedalya, a minor Jewish fast day that follows Rosh Hashana.

Collecting lettuce in a carrot suit

The man in the carrot suit sat behind a metal table sprinkled with papers with local food-drive information. Beside the papers sat three Folgers coffee tins. The cans, once packed with brown grounds, slowly filled up with greenback dollars and silver coins. The man in the carrot suit braved the chilly winds at MU on Thursday for a good cause, he said. It’s harvest season and while some Columbia residents can look forward to fresh fruits and vegetables, others are not so fortunate.

MU one of 10 stops for Edward’s tour

Former U.S. senator and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards has a goal: to eradicate poverty. And he thinks college students can make it happen. The former senator from North Carolina will stop at MU Oct. 18 as part of his two-week, 10-campus tour to launch Project Opportunity. The organization aims to mobilize young people, specifically college students, to fight poverty and make eradicating poverty the goal of their generation.

48 Hours to cover trial of Tribune editor’s murder

Recent coverage of Kent Heitholt’s murder in the parking lot of the Columbia Daily Tribune in November 2001 has caught the attention of a national television network. Researchers from CBS’s 48 Hours arrived in Columbia on Monday after stumbling upon a series of columns by Tony Messenger of the Tribune that raised questions about the roles of Ryan Ferguson and Chuck Erickson, who are each accused of killing Heitholt.

‘I was born to be an organizer’

Robin Acree was in sixth grade and living in a trailer park when she organized a carnival to help the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Jerry’s Kids. “I was born to be an organizer,” she said. “It comes very natural.”

Airport manager search narrows

Columbia Regional Airport could have a new manager as early as Monday, said outgoing manager Bill Boston at his last airport advisory board meeting Wednesday. Boston, whose last day is Oct. 14, said 43 people applied for the airport manager position. Nine were interviewed by telephone, and of those, four were selected to travel to Columbia today and Friday to interview with City Manager Ray Beck and Public Works Director John Glascock. Each candidate will also tour the airport.

Proposed tobacco tax stirs debate

JEFFERSON CITY — Opposition to a proposed 80-cent cigarette tax increase is emerging from some groups that support a higher tobacco tax, but oppose the way the revenue would be allocated under the proposal. The proposed constitutional amendment would raise the tobacco tax to 97 cents per pack of cigarettes, with a 20 percent tax on other tobacco products. The revenue would be spent on anti-smoking programs and health care services for Missouri’s poor and uninsured.

City budgets for art

Eleven-year-old Austin Hein smiles with delight as his fingers playfully mold the gray clay. With the help of his mom, Lugine, Austin is making a bowl, decorated with the imprint of a gumball-tree leaf, in a pottery class for people with special needs. The class is one of several offered by Access Arts, an educational arts program sponsored by the non-profit School of Service. Austin, who is living with Batten disease, a neurological disorder that causes mental impairment and progressive loss of motor skills, has been attending the pottery class once a week for the past year.

Officials spray city after virus infection

City health officials began spraying pesticides in a southwest Columbia neighborhood Wednesday after a man tested positive for the West Nile virus. This is the first human West Nile case in Boone County this year, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. City health officials expect the man to recover but are taking precautions by spraying pesticides in a half-mile radius around his home, near West Boulevard and Rollins Road.

NOW to hold talk for younger women

Seven Missouri chapters of the National Organization for Women will meet in Columbia on Saturday for the third annual Young Women’s Empowerment Conference. Through nine workshops, the conference will touch on issues affecting women in 2005 — in particular, reproductive freedom, media reform and worker’s rights, said Lisa Harrison, former Kansas City NOW chapter president and coordinator of this year’s conference.

MU likely to alter naming rules to honor Bond

It looks like Sen. Kit Bond won’t have to wait until retirement to get his name on a prominent MU building. The UM System Board of Curators meeting in St. Louis today and Friday are expected to change the rules governing when buildings are named after prominent alumni, faculty or supporters.

Debate at Hickman considers energy crisis

Hickman High School students expressed concern about the future of energy and the environment at a forum at Hickman Commons Wednesday night. The forum’s title was “Energy Crisis - Problems and Possibilities,” and the debate was largely focused on how the current energy use is unsustainable. Panel members also discussed alternatives to gasoline.

Pining for pumpkins

Despite the shortage that has affected pumpkin growers, visitors to the annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival this weekend don’t have to worry. There will be enough pumpkins for the festival. The lack of rain plus the heat have meant hardships for pumpkin harvesters this growing season. Normally, Jo and Norlan Hackman would be able to grow 60,000 pounds of pumpkin. This year, however, they were only able to grow half that.