Mo. officials challenge base closures

WASHINGTON — Missouri’s congressional delegation has begun its long-shot fight to save a few thousand jobs targeted in the latest round of military closures and realignments.

Sen. Kit Bond met late Monday afternoon with Anthony Principi, chairman of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, to complain about the Pentagon’s plan to move the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Fighter Wing out of Lambert Airport in St. Louis. The shift would cost about 250 military and civilian jobs and $135 million in economic impact to the region.

A ‘Ronald McDonald’ house for the four-legged

Marilyn Gaffney’s quest to help her ailing dog Ricci took her halfway across the state, from her home in St. Louis to treatment facilities in Columbia. For a month, she would make that trip twice a week.

Ricci’s veterinarians in St. Louis weren’t sure what was wrong with her, so they referred Gaffney to MU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Ay, Chihuahua!

Angela Henson does not leave home without her dog. From class to work to an occasional party, she takes her

10-pound Chihuahua, George, almost everywhere she goes.

St. Louis killer to be executed tonight

ST. LOUIS — Lawyers and death penalty opponents fought Monday to halt the execution of a St. Louis man twice sentenced to die.

Barring a court ruling or clemency from Gov. Matt Blunt, Vernon Brown, 51, is scheduled to die by injection at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre. It would be the third execution in Missouri this year.

Amateur songbirds

Joe Fedl sees it all. The twangy cowgirl, the drunk college guy, the smooth Madonna wannabe.

Some dance while they sing. Some sound like pros. Some, though, are really bad.

Trial in MU student’s death starts this week

Today, jurors will be selected in Clay County, northeast of Kansas City, to hear the murder trial of a former Columbia police officer.

Steven Rios is accused of killing Jesse Valencia, a 23-year-old MU student whose body was found outside his Wilson Street apartment June 5 with his throat cut.

Rocheport dig hopes to find pieces of past

When the Heffernans bought their 500-acre Rocheport farm in 1990, they had no idea the land sat on top of a 19th- century settlement that played a significant role in early Boone County history.

“The day the sale went through, I was working at the historical society and started looking it up,” said Lisa Weil, Bill and Judy Heffernan’s daughter. “I called my father and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this.’ ”

Insurance complaints would be concealed

JEFFERSON CITY — Among the many bills sent to Gov. Matt Blunt’s desk on the final day of the session is one that would make consumer complaints about insurance companies confidential.

Supporters say the bill is about consumer privacy. But some lawmakers say it would primarily benefit insurance companies, making it harder for consumers to learn about alleged wrongdoing.

Bill limiting mercury in vaccines nearly law

A bill requiring mercury-free vaccinations for children younger than 3 and for pregnant women needs only a signature from Gov. Matt Blunt to become law.

State Sen. Norma Champion, R-Springfield, sponsored the bill, which requires removal of the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal from immunizations. She and others have cited the potential for the substance to cause autism or mercury poisoning in children.

Session marked by collision of agendas

JEFFERSON CITY — Behind the abortion saga that dominated the closing hours of Missouri’s legislative session lies a Republican Party division that affected a number of issues. It’s the same division that’s been plaguing the party nationally: whether social or fiscal conservatism should dominate its agenda.

Gov. Matt Blunt seemed to personify that split on Friday, first watching a bill to further restrict abortions die for the year, then two hours later calling a special session to address the issue this fall.

Thousands of new alumni bid farewell to textbooks, exams

Elizabeth Lentz will be the first doctor in her family, and her father couldn’t be prouder.

“She’s been offered three jobs, but she’s turned them all down,” said her father Rick Lentz. Elizabeth received her doctorate Friday from the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Restaurants, hotels reap benefits from graduations

Jean Hatchett stood in line Friday at the MU bookstore with an armload of Mizzou t-shirts, jewelry and stuffed toys to take back to her grandchildren in Perris, Calif.

Hatchett was in town to see her niece, Erica Byfield, graduate from MU’s School of Journalism.

Roof repairman charged in 77-year-old woman’s strangling

The man Zelpha Turner hired to fix the roof of her garage is charged with strangling her in her rural Boone County home last week.

According to court documents, Turner met Dearl W. Jackson on April 20 – 13 days after he was released from Boone County Jail, having served a six-month sentence for misdemeanor stealing. Jackson lived across the street from Turner with his girlfriend.

Wine by design

At Hemingway’s, a specialty store in southwest Columbia, there are dozens of wine racks and more bottles of wine than any customer could count.

With so many varieties, choosing is often a matter of visual appeal, says Dawn Vaughn, owner of Hemingway’s. Vaughn says that customers often base their selection solely on the label’s appearance.

An image of generosity

On a cold afternoon in late March, painter William Hawk leans back in a chair in his studio, which is filled with tubes of paint, landscape paintings, wooden boxes and an easel, he glances at a large portrait in a corner of the room. The man in the painting has an oval face with small eyes. He has thinning hair and looks to be in his 70s.

When Harold Bennett Kline died in 1998, at age 88, his estate left a gift of about $1.4 million to establish a chair in MU’s Department of Philosophy. In appreciation of the gift, Hawk was commissioned last fall to paint a portrait of Kline, who graduated from MU in 1932 with degrees in economics and philosophy.

Mennonite manners stop misbehavior

My husband and I are in the midst of building a new house at the Lake of the Ozarks. I wanted a rustic feel in the great room, so we decided to have open trusses in the vaulted ceiling. Our builder found a Mennonite man who agreed to make the beams for us.

I got a call from the builder last week asking if I wanted to accompany him and his designer to see the beams. I agreed to join them. I must note here that the designer brought her 6-week-old son.

Coming back strong

When the common flu spread to his heart in 2001, life seemed over for 50-year-old Rodney O’Neil.

“I thought for sure I was going to die,” he said.

Prayers of politics

One morning in late April at 9:30, bells echo throughout the halls of the Missouri Capitol to alert legislators that the day’s session is about to begin. Men and women in suits dart out of offices, walking briskly to the Senate and House chambers on the third floor. They weave in and out of a group of fourth-graders, who tread along, gawking at their surroundings.

Most of the suited figures stop at the chamber doors to discuss their course of action for the day’s business with colleagues. Only a few venture into the quiet, where the Rev. Carl Gauck steps up to the podium to deliver the morning’s prayer. As the nine senators already at their desks stand, Gauck reads Psalms 143:10: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.”

Return to the car marked by new perspective

This may be the final entry of the Bicycle Diaries, but I don't think it's the end of my using my bike for my transportation needs.

The car will become part of my life again. As enjoyable as the Wal-Mart run on Tuesday was, at some point I will need to get more items than what a backpack can hold.

Thousands learn joy of no car

Bikers and walkers stopped by Boone Tavern early Friday morning to grab some free breakfast as they traveled to their destinations.

Boone Tavern was one of 10 breakfast stops around Columbia set up for Bike, Walk and Wheel Week, a week-long celebration of alternative transportation.