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Ameren seeks hike for natural gas

Ameren UE, Columbia’s biggest supplier of natural gas, wants to raise its prices starting next month. The price increase, now awaiting approval by the Missouri Public Service Commission, comes in response to the rising cost of natural gas from suppliers.

Son denies killing mom

Held in the Boone County Jail for one week charged with murder in his mother’s death, Braxton Gentry called his arrest “ridiculous” Wednesday and expressed anger that he wasn’t allowed to attend his mother’s funeral. Gentry, 47, unshaven and dressed in a striped prison jumpsuit, said that his life centered on the woman he is accused of killing and that he took care of her for seven years — leaving only her more complicated medical care to visiting nurses.

Missouri scores up on ACT

Students at Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools scored better than the state average on this year’s ACT college entrance exam, an administrator with Columbia Public School District said Wednesday. Rock Bridge students achieved an overall score of 23.7 out of a possible 36, and Hickman achieved a score of 23.5, said Sally Beth Lyon, director of research, assessment and accountability.

For special session, Blunt sets tight agenda on abortion bills

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Matt Blunt on Wednesday called lawmakers into a Sept. 6 special session to impose new restrictions on abortions, but he set forth a narrow agenda that likely would prevent passage of a proposed ban on certain stem cell research. Blunt had pledged to call a special session after lawmakers adjourned in May without passing any anti-abortion legislation, despite large self-described “pro-life’’ majorities in the House and Senate.

Businesses feel price pinch

Faced with surging gasoline prices, local businesses are hoping for relief before they must pass costs on to their customers. Prices in Boone County have increased from $2.18 last month to the current average of $2.40, according to Mike Right of AAA. A year ago the price was $1.79.

Car hits Jefferson Junior High

A 27-year-old Columbia man drove a borrowed car into Jefferson Junior High School about 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, police said. Daniel Schulten was driving south on Seventh Street when he ran a stop sign at Hickman Avenue and hit the northwest corner of the building, according to police and witnesses.

Schools minus (some) pop

A new policy from the American Beverage Association to cut down on soft drinks offered in public school vending machines trails Columbia Public School District’s year-old policy. In 2004-05, the district decided that vending machines should not be available in elementary schools and, in middle schools, they should not be turned on for students during school hours.

Naturalists: Wildlife best left alone

In late July, well-meaning people brought abandoned baby bunnies and baby birds to the Missouri Department of Conservation, according to department officials. But the baby birds died before department officials were able to do anything, and they had to turn the bunnies loose in the 113-acre woods behind their building. According to officials, this is a daily occurrence during the summer. People bring in injured wild animals or animals they think are abandoned — but they are often not.

Sculptor’s art exhibit opens in Sedalia

Since fleeing from Nazi Germany in 1936, Ruth Duckworth has progressed from being a member of the émigré movement of art to one of the most prominent living ceramic sculptors in the modern era. Duckworth has worked with various media and techniques, including stone carving, metal fabrication and bronze casting, during her 50 years as an artist. However, she is best known for her work in clay sculpture.

Mo. House to pull reps’ home info from Web site

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — By the end of the month, the state House of Representatives plans to remove many home addresses and telephone numbers of legislators from its Web site to comply with a new state law. The law states that no court, state or local agency shall post on the Internet the home address, Social Security number or telephone number of any elected or appointed official without first obtaining the official’s written permission. The ban takes effect Aug. 28.

Angus among us

Two angus steers staged a jailbreak at the intersection of Conley Road and U.S. 63 Tuesday morning. Jay Lewis of Ashland was driving 17 of his steers to a sale barn at Boonville when the escape occurred.

Bilingual enrollment rises

There are students in Columbia who, if asked, would not be able to express their fears or excitement about returning to school this year to their classmates. Their inability to convey those feelings is not due to any kind of disability. Instead, it is due to their inability to speak English. “When I came here, I didn’t know anything,” said 7-year-old Laura Valencia, a second-grader at Paxton Keeley Elementary School.

How do we carve up $25 million in pathways?

Columbia will soon have $25 million to spend on a citywide network of pedestrian, bicycle and wheelchair pathways. For now, city officials are unsure about how the money will be distributed, overseen and spent. The city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission will meet tonight to discuss the issue. “Very little is known at this point about how the money will be administered,” said Frederick Schmidt, secretary of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission.

Mavs turn mayor into bobblehead

Batman, Rudy Giuliani and Laura Bush all have one. Arnold Schwarzenegger even sued manufacturers over his. Now residents of Columbia will have the chance to show off a bobblehead doll of their mayor. On Aug. 26, the Mid-Missouri Mavericks will celebrate their last Friday night home game of the season by giving away 500 bobblehead dolls of Mayor Darwin Hindman.

Correction

The child protection hearing for Denim Allen is Tuesday, Aug. 22. In an article published Tuesday, an incorrect date for the hearing was given.

Free tire disposal is at an end

Mid-Missouri residents will now be charged a fee to dispose of their used tires at annual tire collections. Previously, residents were permitted to dump old tires at no charge. Starting this fall, people will have to pay $1 to throw out tires measuring less than 16 inches and $5 for truck tires and other tires larger than standard size.

Bountiful botanicals

Butterflies fluttered in the last of the afternoon sun as they were temporarily disturbed by volunteers trimming and cutting dead debris from plants, flowers and trees on a recent Tuesday in MU’s Butterfly Garden. Volunteers can help in the 14 gardens, including the butterfly garden and three tree trails that constitute the Mizzou Botanic Garden, said Pete Millier, director of Landscape Services and the Mizzou Botanic Garden.

City’s first mall gets a facelift

The latest renovation of Columbia’s first mall is complete. The Parkade Center at 601 Business Loop 70 W. has a new look after a multi-million dollar renovation. Most obvious to the casual observer is the exterior of the building, where a maroon-and-gray motif has replaced the electric blue awnings that were affixed to the building during a previous renovation. The project also includes new landscaping, underground power lines and a new parking lot, managers said Tuesday.

Commissioners talk public safety issues

Public safety issues dominated a meeting of the Boone County Commissioners on Tuesday. Also at the meeting, the county’s purchasing department recommended buying 12 tactical body armor vests for the Sheriff’s Department from Precinct Police Products at a cost of $24,540. The commission did not vote on the recommendation, which was presented as a first reading.

Children embark on the middle ground of middle school

Smithton Middle School was full of energy this week as incoming sixth-graders picked up their schedules. An inside track has given some of the students the upper hand in this sometimes rocky transition. Alexis Collins, a sixth-grader, said she’s not worried about entering Smithton. Instead, she looks forward to the year’s possibilities.

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