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Doing what's right

In 1991, Francisco Xavier Inzunza floated across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on an inner tube. Then, dodging surveillance cameras and border patrol agents, he crossed a busy highway and leaped over a 6-foot wall into the United States.

With only the clothes on his back, Inzunza made his way to Colorado to join his wife and 3-year-old son, who had come to the United States on tourist visas.

College town greets new graduates

Jessica Poore lost 144 family members Saturday.

Poore was among scores of students to graduate from the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources during an afternoon ceremony at the Hearnes Center.

Mother of 2 arrested in fetus abduction

SKIDMORE — This tiny town in northwest Missouri was acquainted with violence well before someone strangled Bobbie Jo Stinnett on Thursday and cut open her belly to steal her unborn child.

The town, 101 miles northwest of Kansas City, made national headlines in 1981 when someone shot 47-year-old Ken Rex McElroy, a man with a violent history, in broad daylight. No one admitted seeing anything and the case has never been solved.

UM continues to employ PeopleSoft

No major changes are expected in the wake of the buyout of a computer software company whose programs are used throughout the University of Missouri system, UM spokesman Joe Moore said.

PeopleSoft’s buyout by Oracle was announced Dec. 13. Also used by clients such as DaimlerChrysler, Verizon Wireless and Emerson Electric, PeopleSoft programs are used at college campuses to manage financial, human resources and student records.

Toys make naughty list

A public interest research group is recommending the United States ban the sale of the Yo-Yo Water Ball — a toy with the potential to strangulate those playing with it — after it caused 400 injuries last year, including 11 in Missouri.

The toy has already been banned in Canada, the United Kingdom, France and most of Europe. Consumer Reports has rated it “not acceptable.” In 2003, 11 million to 15 million of the Yo-Yo Water Balls were sold in the United States.

Ex-ax maker locks in on state costs as new chief

JEFFERSON CITY — As Senate administrator for the past three years, Michael Keathley, 47, has cut the Senate budget by 15 percent, staff salary expenses by 20 percent and operating expenses by 23 percent — all while surviving an eight-month battle with advanced colon cancer.

In January, Keathley will apply his budget-cutting expertise to the entire state government as director of Gov.-elect Matt Blunt’s Office of Administration.

New yoga studio to open in January

When Kathleen Knipp and Ken McRae moved to Columbia more than two years ago, they noticed something missing from downtown.

“Where is the yoga center?” Knipp recalls asking.

The force behind the curtain

The cornstalk can’t find her hairspray.

To make matters worse, the tree has lost her branches. The yellow brick road is wondering how to use his street signs. A munchkin in sequined suspenders wants to know how he should walk.

Showtime for the "Follies"

PROLOGUE

Stephens College’s undergraduate theater program, established in 1899, is one of the oldest in the country. It’s also considered one of the best.

According to the Princeton Review’s new survey of 110,000 university and college students, Stephens has one of the top four undergraduate theater training programs in the nation.

Children are icing on cake at holiday parties

This is the morning after. My house is eerily quiet and fairly clean. My refrigerator has lots of odd food. I have four boxes of cream cheese, several bunches of green onions, two packages of wontons and a ham bone. Today is the day after my annual Christmas party.

For the past few years, I’ve opted to cancel our usual cattle call of inviting people I only see when I’m hosting the party. In days gone by, at these parties held after dark with lots of liquor, there was always at least one incident of someone becoming inebriated and causing a scene. So, I decided to host a party in the afternoon where children are the focus. I let my grown children invite their friends and their own children.

Angels spreading their voices

Twenty silver halos sit on the heads of the children at Sturgeon Baptist Church. Mary, Joseph and the three wise men look around the room nervously.

Kelly Reeves, director of the children’s choir, stands in the doorway. There are only 10 minutes until the start of the dress rehearsal for “Angel Alert,” the church’s Christmas play, she warns.

Christmas past

At some point every year, many of us see Charles Schulz’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” make its annual appearance on television. In the midst of letters filled with detailed gift requests to Santa, a play that includes a Christmas queen and pink, metallic trees, Charlie Brown walks to the center of the school auditorium stage, throws up his hands and shouts, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

At Tiger Columns, a senior retirement community in downtown Columbia, a few residents discussed their favorite Christmas memories and the meaning of the season over peanut-butter cookies and coffee. Their stories might not explain everything Christmas is about, but they bring life to its definition.

Bill would make drug trial results public

Prescription-drug users and doctors soon could have greater access to information about possible adverse effects of medications after a legal battle over the popular antidepressant Paxil.

Six federal lawmakers introduced the Fair Access to Clinical Trials Act in October as part of an effort to make clinical drug trials more transparent to the public. The law would require drug companies to publicly release the results of such trials, positive and negative, on a government-run database.

Small-town Santa

Ron Wilcox of Ashland has been his town’s sole Santa for eight years.

“My son came into my life 10 years ago, and I started dressing as Santa for his day care,” Wilcox said.

Forecaster: Storm may bring Christmas snow

Some Columbia residents bracing for weekend temperatures expected to dip into the teens may find solace in the fact that current forecasts show the possibility of a white Christmas.

According to the National Weather Service, a storm is developing on the West Coast that is moving east, probably reaching Missouri by Thursday night.

Sapp’s joint approval plan fails for Harg

Billy Sapp’s hope that city and county officials could work together to zone a new 1,000-acre development east of Columbia has hit a roadblock, forcing Sapp to focus entirely on city annexation.

Sapp had asked city and Boone County officials to work together to make sure the development would be appropriately zoned even if city annexation does not pan out. However, legal consultants have said the county would not be able to work with the city because of its different zoning regulations, Boone County Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller informed Sapp on Thursday.

St. Louis schools, teachers pitted for contract showdown

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the state’s largest school district, the teachers union said Thursday.

Teachers also voted 1,574-110 to reject the district’s latest contract offer.

Decorations light up holiday spirit

For Bob and Sharon Emery, Christmas is a time for giving — to the electric company.

From the weekend after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, the Emerys’ front lawn on Stirling Drive is illuminated by a display of about 16,000 Christmas lights.

Six arrested in pedophilia case

Six men, including two from Boone County, have been arrested as a result of a covert investigation into child pornography by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. The suspects include a former youth ministry volunteer, a commercial airline pilot, a career military man and a business owner.

“It seems from this investigation that some of the people who are the greatest danger are not the people we tend to recognize,” Detective Andy Anderson said.

Prison staff uses video games to baby-sit inmates

JEFFERSON CITY — Although the Missouri Department of Corrections decided earlier this month to ban violent video games from its prisons, Missouri remains one of only three states that allows any such games at all.

A survey by the American Correctional Association lists Missouri, Maine and West Virginia as the only states that allow prisoners to play video games. All three permit inmates to play sports and science-fiction games.

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