Columbia schools send off seniors

Shawn Sahota was class president at Rock Bridge High School all four years and student council president his senior year. As he stood before his fellow graduates, he reminded them of the things they would miss such as homecoming and games with cross-town rival Hickman High School.

Rock Bridge and Hickman both celebrated commencement on Saturday in separate ceremonies at the Hearnes Center — just a stone’s throw from the MU football stadium where their two high schools’ football teams played last year.

Study shows students have poor eating habits

Nutritionist Ellen Schuster is concerned about the eating behaviors of youth because they tend to continue into adulthood. She believes the focus of chronic disease prevention should start at a young age.

“The younger that we can start them the better, because behaviors are built up over time,” said Schuster, who works for the MU Extension program.

Stem cell vote stirs local debate

The director of Life Sciences at MU sees opportunity in federal legislation opposed by Congressman Kenny Hulshof of Columbia.

Hulshof, who represents the 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, was among 194 House members who voted against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act that would provide federal funding for stem cell research. Hulshof could not be reached to discuss his vote, but a spokesman said the congressman opposes the bill on moral grounds.

Missourians gain more wine variety

Missouri wineries should gain a larger customer base and Missourians will have a wider selection of wines available for direct shipping after a recent Supreme Court decision.

Before the ruling, Missourians could only make direct purchases from wineries in about 14 states. But Missourians can now have wine shipped to them from more states, said Jim Anderson, program coordinator of the Missouri Grape & Wine Program.

Art fair draws crafty crowd

Danny Christopher came to the 47th annual Art in the Park festival Saturday as both a spectator and an aspiring artist.

“I like looking at the different jewelry and designs,” he said.

No blowing smoke: This time I’ve quit

I’ve tried to stop smoking more than 100 times since I began writing this column five years ago. About 90 of those attempts lasted fewer than 24 hours. A year later, I put it in writing, announcing to the world that I had stopped. I made it one month and smugly wrote another column saying the 40-year practice was gone for good. I think I started smoking again before that column was in print.

Since then I’ve tried the patch, the lozenges and antidepressants, which I was told had a side effect of not wanting to light up. I became depressed and smoked like a chimney instead.

Katy Trail, small-town charm bring visitors to Rocheport festival

Merchants dressed in period attire filled white tents with handcrafted items, and horses were washed in preparation for carriage rides as Roche-port geared up Saturday for a weekend celebration of the small town’s past.

Rocheport River Days helps visitors understand how the history of the Missouri River town has been preserved.

Fireworks complaints spark rise in patrols

When Nathan Stephens was young, he would get together with his friends who lived on Trinity Place every Fourth of July and have a “fireworks war” with the kids who lived on Lincoln and Unity drives.

They would shoot each other with bottle rockets and Roman candles. The Trinity Place children called themselves the Trinitons; the Lincoln and Unity drive kids were called the Unitons.

Waterway rules being reviewed

The state Department of Natural Resources is reviewing the recreational uses of more than a dozen Boone County streams to decide whether they should be exempt from a proposed water quality rule that would require higher levels of sewage treatment.

Proposed water quality rules, which could go into effect in April, will influence how sewage treatment facilities decontaminate bacteria in waterways deemed suitable for recreational uses such as swimming and fishing.

Task force helps UMKC with image

A task force assessing how the University of Missouri-Kansas City can help make Kansas City a top-ranked U.S. city views a split between UMKC and the UM System as feasible. However, a representative for the organization that formed the task force said this is just one of many options being considered.

Larry Jacob, senior vice president of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, said it is possible for the task force to conclude that no split is necessary. Although media emphasis has been heavy on the idea of a split, he said the task force is still in the information-gathering phase.

Community youth center near completion

The plans to build a neighborhood community center just north of Columbia College are back on track.

Three nonprofit organizations are collaborating to finish the long-awaited community center at 900 Range Line St.

Firefighters learn how to react in flashovers

Paper itself doesn’t burn. Neither does wood. But the gasses they emit when heated are what burn, and when they get hot enough, they can erupt in a super-hot, super-fast fire called a flashover. Predicting a flashover is difficult, and when one happens, a firefighter has about two seconds to get out of the room.

Many firefighters go their entire careers without encountering a flashover. Jefferson City Firefighter Mark Earls survived one, but not in the field. The 13-year veteran’s first encounter came Thursday while training at the 72nd annual Summer Fire School, a five-day event ending Sunday in Jefferson City. Flashover Survival is one of 15 new classes being taught at the school.

Hatton raises funds for Sudan

The farming community of Hatton is reaching out to a warn-torn village in Sudan.

Residents of Hatton are raising money toward the purchase of a tractor and other tools to help the people of Morobo grow their own food and become more self-sufficient.

Historical Society races to save microfilm

Ara Kaye was preparing to ship a box of old microfilm from the newspaper library at the State Historical Society of Missouri in October when she opened one of the tin containers and noticed the odor of vinegar.

As a senior reference specialist in charge of the newspaper library and its staff, she’s aware of “vinegar syndrome,” a condition that ruins microfilm over time.

14-year-old spells her way to fifth round of national bee

Misspelling “merganser”— a type of saw-billed sea duck — cost 14-year-old Jessy Hwang of Columbia her place in this week’s 78th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.

However, she was one of 51 finalists who advanced to the fifth round on the final day of competition Thursday. Anurag Kashyap of Poway, Calif., took first place with “appoggiatura,” a term in music.

Thirsty Turtle II site marked for apartment complex

One less Thirsty Turtle is on the streets of Columbia.

Thirsty Turtle II closed its doors May 27 because the property was sold to Copper Beech Townhome Communities, a Pennsylvania limited liability company. The company is owned by Menno and Evelyn Toews.

Residents find plenty to like

Sonny Ignacio, a Columbia resident fishing for bluegills Wednesday morning at Stephens Lake Park, said he was generally pleased with the city’s growth.

“Columbia is basically doing a good job trying to satisfy a very diverse community,” he said.

Hospital delays opening of playground

Although a grand opening was held last week, officials have yet to allow public access to the new playground at the Children’s Hospital because of concerns that the park’s rubber matting might contain lead.

“We are just being extra, extra safe and cautious,” said Mary Jenkins, spokeswoman for University Hospitals.

City Council discusses tax agenda

In an evening work session Wednesday, the Columbia City Council discussed tax proposals that will largely decide who will pay for growth for the next decade. Among the funding options the council considered introducing to voters in coming weeks was a five-fold increase in the fees developers pay on new construction.

The council considered several ways to pay for more than $140 million in estimated roads, public safety and parks projects over the next 10 years. There will be several meetings this summer to solicit public comments and finalize plans for a November ballot issue.

Running on sunshine

As president of MU’s SunTiger VI solar car team, senior Justin Wilson’s life for the past two years has been dedication and sacrifice. Since the last race ended in 2003, he and his fellow team members have been preparing for the North American Solar Challenge, the longest solar race to date.

During 11 days, 32 teams will travel 2,500 miles from Austin, Texas, to Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. As Wilson worked on his computer, he said time was running out. The race begins July 17.