Allergy cases flood hospitals

Until recently, Betts Eddings has been the only allergy nurse at University Hospital. But an increase in patients has prompted the hiring of another nurse to focus on testing and shots for allergy sufferers. “Requests for testing have been so heavy we haven’t been able to keep up.” Eddings said. “I don’t want to tell you how far I’m booked up, but we’re hoping to play catch-up with the addition of this new nurse.”

Top of the world

Through the dusty windows on the top floor of the Tiger Hotel, the view of Columbia is unlike any other. Downtown Columbia’s tallest building, which opened in 1928, offers panoramic views of the city and beyond. Until the late 1980s, the ninth floor was home to Top of the Tiger restaurant. The floor is being remodeled to accommodate offices and a banquet hall that will face south and boast a bird’s-eye view of Francis Quadrangle on the MU campus.

Rise in gas costs stretch budgets across the country

The Columbia Public School District will probably need to dip into its reserves to cover bus fuel costs, which will exceed the original budgeted amount. The school district contracts out transportation to Cincinnati-based bus company First Student. Under the contract, First Student covers 54 cents of a gallon of gas, and the school district pays for the rest.

Hearing set for suspect in fraud case

The arrest of a Columbia businessman Monday on suspicion of participation in an investment fraud scheme stemmed from a wide-ranging federal and state investigation that targeted several Columbia financial companies with overlapping managers. In May, the state of Missouri sought an injunction against Vertical Group LLC, a Columbia financial services firm, after an FBI investigation found evidence of a “prime bank fraud” the company had allegedly used to scam multiple investors.

Seniors get lessons in disasters

Peggy Fichter is used to natural disasters. A tornado swept through her hometown. Her grandson was trapped in Houston when Hurricane Rita struck. And while these events cannot be avoided, Fichter realizes that she can control how prepared she is if anything ever happens to her again. On Wednesday the Office of Volunteer Service organized a workshop for senior citizens like Fichter to prepare for worst-case scenarios and disasters. Speakers from the Medical Reserve Corps, Emergency Management Association, Salvation Army and Red Cross taught a group of about 30 seniors how to create an emergency kit, take responsibility for friends and neighbors and volunteer in times of disaster.

A Welcome homecoming

When Jessica Giacchi’s son, Carl, a Task Force I member, told her over the phone on Sept. 18 that he’d stepped on a nail that day in New Orleans, she had any mother’s first response: “I thought, ‘Can I come and get you?’” Jessica Giacchi’s anxiety came to an end Wednesday when her son stepped from a bus with the group of 80 task force members who were deployed Sept. 13. She was one of several dozen family members and friends at Boone County Fire District headquarters to welcome home “MOTF-1,” which spent two weeks conducting rescue and recovery operations in Louisiana. This was Task Force I’s second mission in the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina hit.

Gambling addicts list gets longer

Another 1,200 people in the past year have listed themselves as problem gamblers who should be banned from Missouri casinos, according to the fiscal year 2005 report from the Missouri Gaming Commission. In mid-Missouri, the commission recorded a 34 percent increase in the number of applications it approved for its voluntary casino exclusion program during the fiscal year, which ended June 30. The commission approved 106 applications for the list at its branches in Jefferson City and at the Isle of Capri Casino in Boonville. The commission approved 79 applications in fiscal year 2004.

Charity gets TV aid

A family’s loss and a community’s need has prompted the host of The Learning Channel’s “Moving Up” to bring his crew to Columbia for a $100,000 makeover of the Ronald McDonald House. Doug Wilson, also a designer on TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” started working Sunday to spruce up the family room of the Ronald McDonald House near University Hospital. Ronald McDonald houses offer donations-only shelter for the families of hospitalized children.

Principal explains resignation

Crystal Church said her decision to step down as principal of Grant Elementary School was “extremely difficult” but also a heartfelt move to spend more time with family. “I was working 70 hours a week, and my children were growing up before my eyes,” said Church, who has a school-age son and daughter. “My oldest daughter is in sixth grade, so I only have seven more years to spend with her.”

Film Office to get tourism funds

The Missouri Film Office will be able to operate a lot closer to full strength thanks to a donation from the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. The state of Missouri cut the Film Office’s budget for fiscal 2006 from $200,000 to $150,000, but members of the Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board want to help the office cope by giving it $30,000.

Edgy artist brings taboo work to MU

Like many artists, the photographer Andres Serrano has often been described as iconoclastic and controversial. But not many others have been publicly denounced as a “jerk” by a U.S. senator. That was in 1989, when Jesse Helms, a Republican from North Carolina, took offense to a $15,000 federal grant to Serrano, whose most notorious work at the time was an image, entitled “Piss Christ,” of a crucifix submerged in the artist’s own urine.

Educators wary of panel proposal

Columbia School Board members and two of Missouri’s major education associations have voiced concerns about proposals from the governor’s reorganization commission that would give the governor more power over the state’s top education officials. “It seems to me like a move to consolidate power in the governor’s office,” said Greg Jung, president of the Missouri National Education Association.

Construction of ethanol plant in Laddonia to be discussed

Alternative energy production is coming closer to Columbia. East Central Ag Products members are expected to gather this afternoon at Mexico’s Presser Hall to discuss recent developments in their goal of building an ethanol plant in nearby Laddonia. ECAP has invited all of its estimated 600 members.

Developers to repair creek bank

Developers of land along Grindstone Parkway will beautify and stabilize a section of the bank of Hinkson Creek in Stephens Lake Park to compensate for watershed damage their development will cause downstream. The work by THF Red Oak Development will fulfill an obligation to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which required the “off-site mitigation” as a condition of the permit it granted for the Grindstone Parkway project.

Challenger announces bid for Harris’ state seat

The 2006 general election is more than a year away, but some battle lines are already being drawn. Officials at several levels of government will be up for election, from county officials to U.S. senators. On Tuesday, Christopher Davis said he would challenge Democratic incumbent Jeff Harris for the 23rd District seat in the Missouri House of Representatives. Harris is the House minority leader.

Fulton man shot himself as he slept

A Fulton man who is still a “person of interest” in connection with the slaying of his wife in June was in good condition Tuesday afternoon at University Hospital after shooting himself in the leg Saturday morning. Fulton Police Chief Steven Myers said John T. Reed, 29, called police around 5 a.m. Saturday to report the accident. Myers said Reed told police that he fell asleep with a loaded gun in his lap and that the gun went off, but Myers said police are not sure exactly what happened.

Tax watchdog creates Mo. bureau

A national agency that examines the effects of tax policies is now working alongside Columbia’s grass-roots advocacy groups. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has opened its first Midwest regional office at 611 N. Garth Ave. The national nonprofit research organization’s goal is to ensure fair tax practices and to keep legislators, media and the public informed of the effects of existing and proposed tax polices.

Four Columbia fire instructors honored

Four Columbia Fire Department instructors received honors Saturday at the Missouri Emergency Services Instructor Conference in Jefferson City, including one who was named 2004-05 instructor of the year. The state’s highest honor for instructors, which was first awarded in 1997, was presented to Lt. Rusty Bradley. A 21-year veteran of the department, Bradley has spent 15 years teaching for the Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute.

New battery fee to help clean up Mo.

The next time someone buys a battery in Missouri, they could be helping to clean up the state. A new state fee, going into effect Saturday on certain kinds of battery purchases, will help pay for hazardous waste cleanup.

A fair to remember

In their award-winning documentary, “The World’s Greatest Fair,” Scott Huegerich and Bob Miano bring to life a world without computers, without television and without microwaves. In just over two hours, the directors show an America before war and atomic weaponry, a time that was simpler, yet revolutionary. The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition brought the world to St. Louis — and vice versa. The story told by Huegerich and Miano is a snapshot of the early 20th century, from the romanticization of another era to that era’s attitudes toward minorities and women, which were on full display at the fair.