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Packing the past, facing the future

Marie Gonzalez couldn’t sleep the night after her parents left for Costa Rica to avoid deportation.

The longest the 19-year-old had been away from her mother and father was one week. Now she faces the possibility of six years without them by her side.

How I quit cigarettes ... this time

I have been writing this column for more than five years, and seldom do I get as many e-mails as I have in the past month. Apparently two columns I wrote hit home. The one on smoking cessation garnered almost two dozen responses, and the comments about improper word usage are still coming in. So I decided to update the “still smokers” this week, and then I’ll tackle the abuse of the English language next week.

The same day the column was published, I received a call from a man with a bit of advice. I had written that I had been smoke-free for three months. He told me to stop counting. He said I was setting myself up for failure.

Spreading the charitable wealth

Charitable work is a natural outgrowth of religious belief. Providing food,

shelter, educational opportunities and limited health care is rooted in the theology of nearly every religion.

Smaller groups struggling for a bigger share

Every Tuesday night, half a dozen junior high and high school students gather in a conference room at Faith Walk Ministry, a church in Paris, Mo.

They aren’t there for a Bible study or a youth group meeting. No scripture will be discussed tonight. Yet, for many of them, it beats the alternative: juvenile detention.

Healing presence

Three times a night, Sok Kuan Kam holds a small pink book in her hands as she softly chants what is known in some Buddhist traditions as the Compassion Mantra.

Columbia provides sister city with relief

Efforts to help Columbia’s sister city in the Republic of Georgia repackage bulk shipments of iodized salt will be one step closer to completion when two salt repackaging machines are shipped Monday.

The locally designed machines are part of an effort to help the city of Kutaisi combat iodine deficiency in children. Since 2001, Columbians have been asked to donate boxes of iodized salt, but the hope is that Kutaisi will now be able to repackage its own imported salt.

Blasts felt beyond London

State officials urged St. Louis and Kansas City to increase security for their mass transit systems after Thursday morning’s bombings in London. More uniformed police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs were assigned to guard the bus and train systems in each city. This notice came after the national terrorism threat level was raised from yellow (elevated) to orange (high) for mass transportation systems.

Similar security measures were taken at both Lambert-St. Louis International and Kansas City International airports.

MU student gives eyewitness account

EDITOR’S NOTE: This first-person report was filed on Thursday by Sarah Blaskovich, an MU journalism student interning with The Associated Press in London.

Hurricane Dennis could bring rain to a dry Missouri

While people in Florida and Alabama are preparing for possible damage from Hurricane Dennis, the hurricane could bring much-needed rain to part of Missouri early next week.

“One official forecast does take it out into the Bootheel area of Missouri,” said Dale Bechtold, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

Storms, high demand drive gas prices higher

Columbians awoke Thursday morning to discover a spike in gasoline prices, an increase that’s being attributed to high demand and the effects of tropical storms on the global oil market — not the bombings in London.

But Ronald Leone, director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said although the bombings have not affected gas prices at the moment, they could affect them in the future.

Harg well study to aid in cleanup

The water district that will serve the recently annexed Sapp property is planning a study aimed at reducing elevated levels of radioactive particles in water pumped from its Harg well.

In compliance with state law, Boone County Public Water Service District No. 9 began sending notices to its customers on July 1 informing them that drinking water from the well contains higher-than-normal levels of two types of radionuclides: alpha emitters and combined radium. People who drink water containing either type of particle may have an increased risk of cancer, although drinking bottled water is not necessary, according to the notice.

The Sounds of Summer

When James Cutts was deciding which instrument to play in the school orchestra, the cello was the only one that fit his requirements.

“I’m too short to play the bass, and I don’t like the high squeak of violins and violas,” James said. All that remained was the cello. James, 11, has been playing since the fall and decided to continue his new skill through the summer with Columbia’s Summer Music Program.

Chief’s service honored

Bill Markgraf earned his merit badge for firemanship as a Boy Scout, he chased fires with his mom and by age 15 he was an unofficial voluntary firefighter.

Because Markgraf’s car went faster than the fire truck, he would arrive first at the scene and help put out the flames before the firemen arrived.

Auto parts store plan denied

The Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night recommended the City Council prohibit construction of an auto parts store at Third Avenue and Providence Road. It also rezoned for planned office use nearly two acres between Old Route K and South Providence Road.

The commission’s unanimous denial of the parts store building plan represents another roadblock in Tom Kardon’s long, hard fight to establish the business on North Providence. The rejected plan would have allowed Kardon to build a 6,050 square foot store on about half an acre accessible from Third Avenue.

Tax incentive proposal met with opposition

A push to implement a business development incentive plan met with considerable resistance from county officials when Regional Economic Development Inc. presented a first reading of the Chapter 100 policy to the Boone County Commission on Thursday.

Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller said economic conditions are forcing the county to compete to keep businesses in the community. The Chapter 100 policy is a viable tool, she said.

Agency’s new name reflects services

Boone County Family Resources got a fresh start this month with a new name that reflects more accurately the fact that the agency supports the families of people with disabilities.

The nonprofit agency was formerly called Boone County Group Homes and Family Support.

Interim city job made permanent

Columbia’s national search for a new public works director ended right where it began.

John Glascock was named director of the department Thursday. He’s been filling the position since former director Lowell Patterson retired May 11.

New funding formula leaves schools broke, Democrats say

Columbia’s Democratic lawmakers say Republican Gov. Matt Blunt’s new school funding formula isn’t enough for Columbia schools.

In a press conference held Thursday morning by House Minority Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, local representatives criticized the new plan, saying insufficient funding is their major concern.

DNR: Restored scrap-tire fee to raise $2.1 million per year

The restoration of a 50-cent scrap-tire fee and an increase in the percentage of voter signatures required to block votes on voluntary annexations were among the most significant provisions of four bills signed into law by Gov. Matt Blunt on Thursday.

Blunt said other important measures included the extension of the incentive funds for the use and production of renewable fuels and the creation of the Missouri Downtown Revitalization Preservation Program.

Comissioner: Close county fairgrounds

Presiding Boone County Commissioner Keith Schnarre suggested closing Boone County Fairgrounds.

The suggestion came during Thursday night’s meeting with the Boone County Fair Board and county commissioners.

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