Voters might face 5 ballot measures regarding sales tax

Columbia voters in November could face five ballot measures to extend and increase the city’s sales tax for up to 10 years and another calling for an increase in the fee it charges for new developments.

The sales tax options proposed for the Nov. 8 ballot include two extensions of a sales tax for parks projects, one extension and one increase in the sales tax for roads projects and an extension of a sales tax for public safety projects.

Mother, abducted girl reunite after three years

HOUSE SPRINGS — Three years after a father allegedly abducted his young daughter from Missouri and took her outside the U.S. to avoid detection, the mother and child are reunited and rebuilding their relationship.

Authorities say that Arlen Dean Hill II, who was separated from his wife and had visitation rights, took their 17-month-old child for a two-week visit on June 8, 2002, and never returned.

Drought dampened, not quenched

Even with cooler temperatures and Tuesday’s rain, Missouri farmers are facing the loss of millions of dollars worth of crops destroyed by drought.

“It could be even much higher than that,” said Tim Kelley, executive director of the Missouri Farm Service Agency. “Nationwide, the 1980 drought cost the nation more than $35 billion dollars.”

Organic growth

Local growers at the Columbia Farmers’ Market know there is an increasing demand for all-natural products and try to meet the needs of consumers by selling “organic” foods. But farmers like Dan Kuebler know the rigorous process involved in becoming a certified organic grower.

“When I decided to seek certification from the state department, I didn’t realize all of the paperwork it entailed,” said Kuebler, owner of The Salad Garden, three miles east of Ashland. “I spent nearly 80 hours compiling a farm history, business plan and outlining specific planting methods used to grow my produce. It was a very long process.”

Lights, Camera, 'ELECTION'

With just a few pieces of video equipment and a budget of less than $500, the mission seemed overwhelming: Document the political strife and polarization of the 2004 presidential election.

Nonetheless, with borrowed cameras and their own money, local filmmakers Seth Ashley, 26, and Christy LeMaster, 28, hit the streets of Columbia, where a distinctive blend of college-town liberals, Midwest conservatives and everyone in between were preparing for a day that would capture the attention of the entire world.

Fire board considers hiring a consultant

An external consultant might be able to help the Boone County Fire Protection District resolve problems surrounding allegations of unethical and unprofessional behavior on the part of Fire Chief Steve Paulsell and Assistant Chief Sharon Curry, district board members agreed in a closed meeting Monday.

Meanwhile, board member Myrtle Rapp acknowledged Tuesday that the meeting might have violated Missouri’s Sunshine Law.

Money for higher ed addressed at forum

While several speakers painted a dire picture for the future of higher education funding, the majority of Missouri’s education leaders, gathered for a symposium Tuesday at the Reynolds Alumni Center, agreed that better dialogue could lead to real improvements.

Education consultant Dennis Jones said that because the state, higher education institutions and students all have their own agendas, the only way funding will improve is by finding a way to align everyone’s priorities.

Blunt low in governor poll

A nationwide poll shows that Gov. Matt Blunt has the third-lowest approval rating among the nation’s 50 governors.

Blunt tied with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for 47th place in the July poll, conducted by Survey USA in New York City. The survey shows that Blunt has an approval rating of 35 percent and a disapproval rating of 60 percent.

NBC news to feature Columbia mother

Columbia resident Tracy Della Vecchia has sent more than just her son, Cpl. Derrick Jensen, to Iraq. Every six weeks she sends 835 care packages to combat-deployed Marines overseas.

NBC Nightly News will feature Della Vecchia tonight in a story intended to show what it’s like to have a child deployed and what people are doing from home to help. Camera crews came to Columbia twice to film Della Vecchia and volunteers assembling care packages and participating in a roundtable discussion.


The University of Missouri-Kansas City has been in the UM System for 42 years, since 1963. A story online Tuesday, about the appointment of a new chancellor to UMKC, stated the wrong number of years.

City, county to opt out of sales tax holiday

The city of Columbia and Boone County will both sit out this year’s statewide sales tax holiday Aug 5-6.

This marks the second year the city and the county have abstained from the tax holiday, which offers consumers a break from sales taxes on back-to-school items such as school supplies, clothing and shoes and up to $3,850 worth of computer equipment and software.

Blunt appoints UMSL English major to UM Board of Curators

Maria Curtis of Grandview will be the new student curator on the University of Missouri Board of Curators, a position appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt.

Curtis, 23, is an English major at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and will succeed Shawn Gebhardt on the board.

Survey: 32 percent of Missouri adults gambled

JEFFERSON CITY — Nearly one out of every three Missourians gambled in the past year, according to new survey results released Tuesday by the state Department of Health and Senior Services. But state gambling officials bet the actual figure is much higher. After weighting the results to correspond with the demographics of Missouri’s adult population, the health department concluded that 32 percent of the state’s adults gambled.

Bureau divvies up event funds

Flying acrobats, documentary filmmakers and a spooky haunted house are among those recommended to receive money from the city’s Tourism Development Fund in fiscal 2006.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau released its recommendations for how to distribute the money in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. It received 13 applications requesting a total of $271,316. The board’s recommendations total $228,109 and are subject to the approval of the Columbia City Council at its Aug. 15 meeting.

Park and road tax duration discussed

Faced with the possibility of public opposition to proposed parks and roads taxes, the Columbia City Council discussed ways to cut the life span of two of the proposed measures at a work session Tuesday.

The potential cuts could drop the proposed extension of a one-eighth-cent sales tax for parks to $12 million from $20 million by reducing the tax’s duration from eight years to five years. The portion of the tax set aside for a permanent farmers market and an ice skating rink would remain.

Police report raises questions about Missouri football death

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri football player who collapsed on the field and later died after a pre-season workout wasn't immediately taken to the hospital across the street once he was unconscious but instead driven to the football team's offices, a university police report shows.

Aaron O'Neal, 19, was ``in full cardiac arrest'' by the time campus police officer Clayton Henke and University Hospital paramedics arrived at the Tom Taylor Building on July 12, Henke wrote in a police report obtained by The Associated Press under Missouri's public records law.

Firms pitch plans to seek city manager

Three potential consultants to help Columbia hire a new city manager pitched their services to the Columbia City Council during a work session Monday night. The council may select a candidate during a work session tonight at 6 and plans to reach a final decision by the Aug. 1 council meeting.

Two of the consultants, Karl Nollenberger of the PAR Group and Jim Bragg of the Mercer Group, presented directly to the council. The council then turned off the air conditioning and sweated through a conference call with the other candidates, Jerry Oldani and Chris Hartung of Waters-Oldani Executive Recruiting.

UM Board of Curators appoints UMKC Chancellor

Guy Bailey recognizes that he is coming to lead the University of Missouri-Kansas City in a time of turmoil and hopes it becomes a time of healing.

“It will require some listening on my part,” he said. “I have to estab-lish trust.”

Learning to adapt

Now that Newton Summer Adventure is the biggest show in town, Columbia’s older and much smaller summer school program has found a way to coexist.

Summer Enrichment, Columbia’s tuition-based morning summer school program, used to hold two back-to-back sessions in the summer. This year, however, the second session was moved back until after Newton Summer Adventure ended. As a result, enrollment for the second session has been even larger than expected.

Peaceful options critical for youths

I tried hard the other day, but I just couldn’t find the words to comfort a young mother whose son had announced several months ago his decision to join the military service upon his graduation from high school. Well, he graduated last month, said his farewells and went off to basic training. His mother is still tearful, pausing often in her conversations to cry.

There is no way that I can ignore the mounting death toll of U.S. troops in the war zone. I’m aware that some people have a fixed answer for these kinds of situations. I’m not there yet and don’t look forward to the day when I will be.