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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.

Correction

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 Integrity.com 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.

Iams rewards MU lab for sparing dogs’ lives

An MU lab’s studies of osteoarthritis in dogs without the use of live animals has earned it nearly a half million dollars from Iams Co., the international dog and cat food producer. The Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory, part of MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, researches osteoarthritis, a deterioration of the joints, and other cartilage disorders in dogs, horses and humans. Its researchers have attempted to work with as few live animals as possible, said Derek Fox, the lab’s associate director. Instead, the lab has emphasized studying the disease in vitro, or in test-tube models.

State Fair exhibits drought’s effect

SEDALIA — Most any other summer, a trip to the State Fair is a veritable celebration for Brian Munzlinger, a northeast Missouri corn and soybean grower. Most any other summer, his 1,000 acres of row crops in Williamstown have been drenched by rain water by now. But with Missouri in the midst of a sustained drought that has prompted Gov. Matt Blunt to seek federal disaster relief, this summer has been anything but ordinary for Munzlinger and other farmers.

Woman's death called homicide

The son and caretaker of the 74-year-old woman who was found dead last weekend in her central Columbia home was arrested Wednesday by Columbia police. The Boone County Prosecutor’s Office was preparing to charge Columbia resident Braxton Gentry, 47, with second-degree murder and second-degree elder abuse, according to a Columbia Police Department’s media release.

Teacher accused of child molestation

A Rock Bridge High School teacher was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of inappropriately touching a 16-year-old male student. Columbia police arrested Judith F. Burke, 51, of Hartsburg, at the high school at 10:45 a.m., Sgt. John White said. Police said they were notified of the alleged incident Tuesday but did not disclose who contacted them.

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