The comforts of home

Gloria Simmons immediately felt at home when she first visited the Ernest & Eugenia Wyatt Guest House, and that’s the whole idea. Simmons, who lives at the Lake of the Ozarks, receives radiation treatment for cancer of the lymph nodes every day at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. Her home is 87 miles from Columbia and she is constantly tired because of her treatments.

Foreign students get MU welcome

Being an international student can be a challenging experience, especially at the beginning. About 1,400 students from around the world were enrolled at MU during the 2004-05 school year, and that number is expected to increase this fall.

Heat could affect school schedules

In case of extreme heat and humidity, Columbia Public Schools will announce decisions about early dismissal on the previous evening. Notification will be made through local media. School begins Wednesday. Fans will operate in the most-needed areas, with water breaks throughout the day. The early dismissal schedule follows: Schools dismissing at noon are Benon, Blue Ridge, Cedar Ridge, Fairview, Field, Grant, Lee, Midway Heights, New Haven, Parkade, Ridgeway, Rock Bridge Elementary, Russell, Two-Mile Prairie and Stephens College Early Childhood Preschool.

Hartsburg man killed in car crash

A Hartsburg man was killed and his father was in serious condition Sunday after their SUV was rear-ended while they drove home from a baseball game in Kansas City. According to family and a written statement from the Columbia Police Department, Wesley Lammers, 36, and Bobby Lammers, 66, were traveling south on U.S. 63 when a car driven by David Hayes, 21, of St. Louis ran into the back of their vehicle with enough force to crack the rear axle of the Lammers’ SUV. Their vehicle then cartwheeled into the ditch between U.S. 63 and Ponderosa Road.

Police: Attack wasn’t hate crime

An assault on two Columbia residents from the Middle East that occurred Aug. 7 is not being classified as a hate crime, according to the Columbia Police Department. “There just isn’t enough evidence to prove that the assailants were motivated because of race,” said Investigative Division Commander Mike Martin.

Harry Potter popular target

Harry Potter is back on his broom, reviving the controversy over whether his fantasy book series inspires children to explore witchcraft and to disobey their parents. Scholastic released the sixth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” just last month. If its predecessors are any gauge, it’s sure to produce book challenges by concerned parents around the state and the country.

Oops! There are errors in our laws

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers have some mistakes to correct. A Sept. 6 special legislative session has been called not only to enact new abortion restrictions but also to fix a variety of problems in recently passed laws.

Inappropriate reading?

Emboldened by the national political climate, conservative parents and religious groups appear to be filing a rising number of challenges to books across the country. Nationwide, book challenges generally occur at the school district level, making state records difficult to find. Recently, however, a few organizations have begun to keep track, as events such as Sept. 11 and political activism by religious conservatives spur more attempts to control what students read.

Second bicyclist hit on campus

A day after an MU journalism student was critically injured in a car-truck-bicycle accident at Rollins Road and College Avenue, another girl was knocked from her bicycle by a truck just a block away at Rollins and Maryland Avenue. The area is particularly congested this time of year as students return to nearby residence halls.

Columbia art noted at fair

Joanne Berneche brought a little bit of Italy to the Missouri State Fair in the form of snipped pamphlets, magazine articles, brochures and acrylic paint. In a pool of about 140 Missouri artists competing in the open professional division at the fair in Sedalia, Joanne took one of seven $200 awards for her multimedia piece “Madonna.” Meanwhile, her husband, Jerry Berneche, earned honorable mention for his drawing “Friend.”

Teens arrested in car vandalism

Three teens were arrested early Friday by Columbia police in connection with reports of vandalism to cars in several neighborhoods. Police began receiving calls shortly before midnight Thursday from residents who said the windows or bodies of their cars had been vandalized.

Sewer work to start near MKT

Starting Monday, the city’s Public Works Department Sewer Utility will perform maintenance on the Flat Branch sanitary sewer lines that parallel the MKT trail from Providence Road southwest to Stadium Boulevard. Trail users in that area are asked to be aware of service vehicles that will be on and next to the trail for the next few weeks. Work is scheduled to end Sept. 30.

Siren startles farmers market

A severe-weather warning siren blaring about 9:30 a.m. Saturday alarmed visitors and vendors at the Columbia Farmers’ Market off Clinkscales Road. The siren apparently activated by itself, said Chuck Mastalski, shift supervisor for the Columbia/Boone County Public Safety Joint Communications Center.

Strong pull for charity

Guys with arms like legs and strapped in harnesses took turns Saturday afternoon pulling a pickup truck linked to a 25-foot flatbed trailer at the second annual Mid-Missouri Strongman Competition, which raised more than $500 for breast cancer research. On Walnut Street, blocked off between Eighth and Ninth streets, men from across the Midwest committed feats of strength probably better left to heavy equipment. In the pickup pull they pushed off against a grooved woodblock, arms swinging as they tried to gain momentum. Short, choppy steps work best, said Shaun Kelley of Columbia, who finished third in the overall competition in the 265-pound weight class.

MU incubator project granted $2.5 million

Henry White, professor of physics at MU, may soon have a new lab to create artificial light identical to sunlight but more efficient than regular light bulbs. White is one MU faculty member whose research will benefit from the construction of the MU Business Incubator, which is one step closer to being built with the announcement of a $2.5 million grant. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, announced Thursday that MU and the Missouri Innovation Center will receive the grant from the Economic Development Administration to construct the facility. The estimated cost of the incubator is $8.7 million, and MU will match the grant from the EDA, bringing the amount raised to $6.6 million. The project will need an additional $2.1 million before construction can begin.

City considers building 20 parks

The city could buy land for and develop as many as 20 neighborhood parks over the next several years, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hood said at a Thursday meeting. Hood spoke after a public hearing held by the Parks and Recreation Commission, which is considering amendments to the city’s master plans for neighborhood parks and for trails and greenbelts. He outlined how the city intends to spend taxpayer dollars if voters approve two sales tax proposals on the Nov. 8 ballot that are targeted at parks needs. Both propositions would extend a one-eighth-cent sales tax for parks that is scheduled to expire March 31.

Finding convenient housing presents non-academic test

Come Monday, students will be back in class at MU and Columbia College. In recent days, the “For Lease” signs have come down and most students have been busy moving. If you are still standing on the tarmac jotting down real-estate agent numbers, you know that finding a home away from home demands a whole load of sweating. Although specific numbers weren’t available Friday, Jason Nowlin, a spokesman for the Columbia Apartment Association, said that over the past two years there has been a “huge increase” in the number of apartments available.

Sexuality, violence questioned most

Most Missouri challenges to textbooks and school library books over the past five years have been based on concerns about violence, sexual content or encouraging bad behavior. Challengers frequently cite multiple grounds for objecting to books. Of the 72 book-challenge records this investigation received from across the state, 20 took issue with books for encouraging children to behave badly. Lee Wardlaw’s “101 Ways to Bug Your Parents,” for example, was challenged because it tells the story of a 12-year-old who displays disdain for his parents’ decision to enroll him in a summer writing course by making a list of ways to bother them as his class project.

Parents show high tolerance

Citing tolerant and liberal parents, media specialists for Columbia Public Schools say book challenges are rare in the district. Since 2000, Columbia has received only four requests to remove books from school libraries. During that same period, however, about one parent each month has asked the school to block a Web site.

Stop saving those fancy clothes, dishes

I’ve been trying to purge the extra stuff in my life for the past year. I’ve written that a friend and I have gotten together about once a week and gone through our closets and drawers. We have been amazed at the things we have kept over the years. And although we both have given away tons of clothing that we no longer wear, I still had a few things I had to keep. I have a section in my closet I call “special occasion” clothing. These are the items that I’ve been saving for just the right time. The problem is that many of my pieces have been waiting for so long they’re out of fashion.