State transportation position vacant 2 years after creation

JEFFERSON CITY — Lawmakers praised it as one of the first steps in reforming Missouri’s transportation system — a way to increase accountability and restore public confidence. Yet two years after they overwhelmingly passed legislation creating a “transportation inspector general,” there’s no one on the job.

Mediacom to bundle phone with cable services

Columbia cable customers will soon have more than the World Wide Web and pay-per-view at their fingertips. This fall, Mediacom will begin offering land-line phone service, too. The eighth-largest cable operator in the United States, Mediacom is following a trend among phone and cable companies that are bundling all telecommunications services onto a single bill.

Dementia in dogs has parallels to Alzheimer’s

A year ago, Karen and Jim Silsby’s miniature schnauzer began to act strangely. Hannah, then 13, got lost in the yard she had once known so well, started sleeping excessively, got stuck behind furniture, developed a clouded recognition of her surroundings, became less housebroken and started barking despite being a quiet dog most of her life. A visit to veterinarian Tom Rose of Rolling Hills Veterinary Clinic in Columbia revealed that Hannah had dementia. She is among the 60 percent of dogs ages 11 to 15 who have symptoms of dementia, according to ScienCentral, a production company specializing in science and technology content for television and the Internet. Dementia is the umbrella term that refers to the loss of higher brain function, according to Dennis O’Brien, an MU professor of veterinarian neurology.

A new channel for public expression

Pat Fowler and Jay Hasheider are trying to get people to lead healthier lives. Carlton Flowers wants to entertain and enlighten. John Hopkins and his siblings want to spread the word of God. And Kim Sherman, Olivia Wyatt and Giavanna Accurso are in it for the kids. They are members of the first generation of television producers for the public-access channel Columbia Access Television. And although they are all taking advantage of a medium that has been missing from Columbia for more than two decades to bring their ideas to life, the results are radically different.

Arson suspected in building fire

Someone set fire to a central Columbia commercial building Thursday, Columbia Fire Department officials said. According to Battalion Chief Steve Sapp, the fire began in an interior room of the building at 722 W. Sexton Road, which is undergoing renovation. The roof and windows were damaged, along with air conditioning units and construction materials inside the building. Sapp estimated the damage sustained was between $10,000 and $20,000. A vehicle that belongs to the company remodeling the building, J&T Construction, also received minimal damage.

Storm leaves 4,000 residents without power

Numerous power lines went down at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday between Columbia and Moberly, leaving about 4,000 residents without power. Chris Rohlfing, manager of member services at Boone Electric Cooperative, said there were many poles damaged in Saturday’s storm.


A story on Friday gave the incorrect title for Columbia Police officer Latisha Stroer. She is a detective. The story also did not make clear the events leading to the arrest of Rock Bridge High School teacher Judith Burke. An anonymous tipster told police Tuesday that a Rock Bridge teacher had molested a 16-year-old student over the summer.

Conference helps uncover past

On Aug. 8, 1864, Xerxes Knox was covered with the body of a dead Union soldier in a garbage cart and smuggled out of the Confederate Army’s Camp Ford, four miles outside Tyler, Texas. It was Knox’s second escape attempt after nearly three months of imprisonment. He still had to travel on foot through rebel-held territory to reach the safety of Union lines. “I realized, had he not escaped, I may never have been born,” said Cyndi Howells, Knox’s great-great-great-granddaughter. “He gave me the life I have today.”

Medical expenses remedied

Joel Blackburn believes his patients require only the medical essentials. “We don’t have to give them a sleeping pill like they’d take at home,” Blackburn said.

$5,000 presented to burn care center

As a black cloud billowed over the rooftop, flames crawled up the walls of the house in southern Columbia. Thick, toxic smoke filled the room, making it difficult to see to the other side. For two MU students, survival came at the hands of firefighters. On April 3, that nightmare was reality for Skylark Lane resident John Rubin and guest Cody Boswell.

Rainfall numbers looking up

Business was slow at mid-Missouri farmers markets Saturday, but vendors didn’t seem to mind. It was raining — and more rain could be on the way.

Workout leaves me burned out

It’s been five months since I’ve stopped smoking. Every time I stopped the nasty habit in the past, I gained weight, so this time I decided to get serious and hired a personal trainer. After 10 weeks, I had my first assessment. I lost two pounds and eight inches. It cost me $800, so some quick math put my weight loss at $400 a pound. However, I was only a little disappointed. I was smoke-free, and I hadn’t gained the normal 25 pounds. I was determined to continue losing weight and even had visions of becoming an athlete. Maybe one day I would run a marathon or, even better, compete in a triathlon.

More alive than they appear

Some may be going to seed early or are already dormant — but they’re alive. Some are still blooming. “I planted my black-eyed Susans months ago and haven’t watered them since, and they are doing just fine,” said Scott Hamilton, president of the mid-Missouri chapter of Wild Ones, a native plant group. “My begonias, a non-native, are all gone if they haven’t been watered religiously.”

Fire District board member demands outside consultant

Boone County Fire District board member John Gordon appeared to take a stand in opposition to the board’s two other members at a regular meeting Thursday, demanding that an outside consultant be hired to analyze the district’s “problems” and that Assistant Chief Sharon Curry turn over board minutes, salary figures, personnel records and vendor contracts. Gordon moved that the board hire “a qualified, professional and independent consulting firm” to evaluate the district’s administration. He emphasized that the consultant should be from outside mid-Missouri.

Teacher to be charged with molestation

A Rock Bridge High School teacher arrested on suspicion of inappropriately touching a 16-year-old male student is scheduled to be arraigned in Boone County Court on Sept. 8, when she will be charged with second-degree child molestation, police said. Judith Burke, 51, who was released from police custody Wednesday, will be asked to enter a plea at that time, said Detective Latisha Stroer of the Columbia Police Department. Second-degree child molestation is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Investigators say foul play involved in building blaze

A fire that destroyed a building in southwest Columbia on Wednesday night was the result of arson, Columbia fire investigators said Thursday. Firefighters responded to the fire at a 20- by-30, two-story outbuilding near the corner of Mills Drive and Tremont Court at 9:55 p.m. Using two aerial towers and several hand lines, the fire department was able to bring the fire under control in under 20 minutes.

Scammers peddle magazines

It’s as much a part of summer as county fairs and dried-out lawns: college-age magazine solicitors going door to door claiming to be raising money for their education or, say, a foreign-exchange program. This week, Columbia residents in all parts of town have encountered young people claiming to be MU School of Journalism students, specifically broadcast students, sponsored by and selling magazine subscriptions.

Sturgeon in troubled waters

Last year, Wyatt Doyle caught five wild pallid sturgeon in the Missouri River. And he thinks it will be years before scientists understand how the endangered fish and other species respond to the creation of new habitats on the river. Doyle and his teams with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitor shallow-water habitats built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to comply with the Endangered Species Act, which pallid sturgeon fall under.

Mo. task force suggests school bus seat belts

JEFFERSON CITY — A group assigned to study school bus safety recommended Thursday that school districts consider putting seat belts in buses, but stopped short of suggesting that belts should be mandatory. The task force was established by Gov. Matt Blunt after three school bus crashes within a week this spring killed two motorists and injured dozens of schoolchildren.

Embargo stifles group’s offerings

Ten computers donated to a humanitarian group by the Columbia Catholic School and bound for Cuba have been held up at the Texas-Mexico border, pending a decision by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Pastors for Peace, which traveled to about 100 U.S. communities gathering aid for Cuba, pulled the computers from its caravan July 21 after customs agents confiscated 43 boxes of electronic equipment as it attempted to cross the U.S. border at Hildalgo, Texas. The school’s computers were added to the caravan during a stop in Columbia on July 13.