Too much heat, not enough rainfall

It’s hot. We haven’t had a good rain in a long time. And it’s about to get worse.

The National Weather Service on Tuesday issued a statement warning of an “extended period of dangerous heat” beginning today. Highs are expected to reach the mid-90s during the week and could hit 100 degrees by the weekend.

Survey finds support for tax renewal

A recent survey of Columbia voters shows strong support for renewing current sales taxes but lukewarm interest in new taxes.

Eighty percent of residents told the surveyors they probably would support renewing a one-eighth-cent sales tax for public safety and a one-quarter-cent tax for street and sidewalk projects.

Supply drive to aid foster-care families

The start of the school year leaves many students looking forward to a fresh box of crayons, sharp pencils and new notebooks. But for Boone County’s 302 foster children and their families, buying school supplies can be an extra financial burden.

“The amount of services that are available for our kids for activities like tutoring and day care funds have dried up,” said foster parent Karen Anderson.

Curators to restrict UM employment eligibility

The University of Missouri Board of Curators, the UM System’s governing body, is expected to adopt new legislation at a meeting Friday that would prevent curators, members of the Missouri General Assembly and elected or appointed statewide officials from being employed by the university.

“The policy is designed to prevent any perceived conflict of interest,” said Joe Moore, spokesman for the system.

Improving odds

For American Indians, the odds of getting a college education are not favorable.

“They have the lowest graduation rates from high school, the lowest graduation rates from college and the lowest rates of going on to graduate school,” said Whitney Laughlin, director of Graduate Horizons, a program designed to help the odds.

Saving children from meth homes

When Doug Westhoff walked into a motel-room-turned-meth-lab several years ago, among the chemical containers and other paraphernalia used to cook the drug, he also found baby blankets and a child seat. It was obvious to the Boone County assistant fire chief that children were present while the drug was being made.

In Missouri, almost 500 children were affected by methamphetamine labs in 2003, according to the most recent report by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. About 36 percent of the children were placed in protective custody. However, according to the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association, the numbers aren’t representative of the actual problem because the state lacks a uniform system of reporting the number of children affected by meth.

Mirror reflects youth lives

Journalist-saturated Columbia is becoming even more so, with the addition of a newspaper written for youth by youth.

On Wednesdays, young writers work to produce the Mid-Missouri Youth Mirror, an arm of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Police add new line of defense

Sgt. Shelly Martin of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department can vouch for how unpleasant being shot with a Taser gun is. She has voluntarily taken a jolt twice since the Sheriff’s Department bought the first 10 of the weapons in 2002.

“I wanted to know what it feels like so that I will know exactly what I’m delivering when I use one,” Martin said.

Seeds of summer fun

Cody Tomaw, 13, bounced up and down in his potato sack, waiting for the boys’ sack race to begin.

Broadway business offices looted

The regional headquarters of the Special Olympics and a number of other businesses were burglarized over the weekend. An intruder came in through an unlocked rear door, broke into nearly 40 suites and stole mostly small electronics, Columbia police said.

The Stephens Lake Building at 2100 E. Broadway was burglarized between 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, police said. A physician’s office and a real estate company were among the businesses the intruder burglarized after kicking down doors.

Human error attributed to death

Columbia Fire Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said a 911 dispatcher and the Public Safety Joint Communications office share responsibility in the death of a Columbia man last summer.

The Joint Communications office and 911 dispatchers work with the city and county fire departments to respond to emergencies, but they are separate organizations.

“We had a human error take place,” said Sapp, a co-defendant in the suit brought by Carol and Ray Gilpin in the death of their 21-year-old son, Ray Gilpin Jr. “We had a human error that occurred despite all of our advanced computer technology. We have to have a human interaction. We cannot get rid of that, and sometimes we make a mistake.”

Low-income students in for loan break

A Missouri student loan company is trying to encourage low-income borrowers to stay in college.

The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority has announced a program reducing the amount that low-income borrowers will have to pay back on their student loans. The one-time program will allow eligible borrowers who were freshmen last school year the chance to have their student loan debt reduced by up to $550.

Staying busy helps retain my sanity

A goodly number of my acquaintances have taken up long-range home improvement projects as a way of distancing themselves from the world in which they have come to feel so powerless. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I know for certain that getting involved in a worthwhile project is a proven method of beating off gloom and doom. Furthermore, making one’s own little “piece of the rock” a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing place to be has a lot of positives in its favor.

Blue Ridge school playground burns

The new playground equipment that students and the Parent Teacher Association at Blue Ridge Elementary school worked for a year to afford was badly damaged in a fire Sunday afternoon that firefighters said was deliberately set.

Firefighters were called to the school at 12:48 p.m. and found a slide and stairs in flames at the school, which is at the corner of Woodland and Leeway drives in northeast Columbia.

MU junior, 20, dies in car accident

An MU junior died Saturday morning near his southeast Missouri home after driving approximately 800 feet off the highway and crashing into a house at more than 100 mph.

Dustin Smoot, 20, was a mile and a half from his house when he apparently ran a stop sign, drove his 2000 Mazda off the road and crashed through a sign at the “T” intersection of Routes UU and D, five miles south of Charleston, said Sergeant Larry Clark of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

City Council tables Clark Lane rezoning

The Columbia City Council met Monday night. Here are some of the topics discussed at the meeting before press time.

Clark Lane Rezoning: The council tabled the rezoning of 16.35 acres on the south side of Clark Lane. The property owners were seeking to rezone the site from residential to planned commercial, but agreed to table the item until there were further discussions between neighbors and developers. The council will consider the rezoning again in September.

’We lost such an amazing person’

Aaron A. O’Neal’s smile radiated joy.

People called it big, wonderful. He always seemed to be smiling, they said.

Frightful planning

It’s a weather-beaten old house set back in the weeds where Interstate 70 meets Highway 40 three miles west of Columbia.

Sheets of plywood cover the windows, and the grass grows tall along the wrought-iron fence.

Rap feud rumors have local players

Looking at a deep hole in the floor near the front door of his quiet suburban house, Miguel “Money Mike” Horn concedes there’s a problem with violence in Columbia. But, he said he hopes what he’s looking at isn’t evidence that a growing feud between rappers in the San Francisco Bay area and Kansas City has spilled onto the streets of mid-Missouri.

Horn, an aspiring Columbia-based rap artist, recorded six songs with Anthony “Fat Tone” Watkins before Watkins was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds near a construction site in Las Vegas on May 23.

InterActing lessons

Jaleesa Carter-Jackmon is tired of excuses. She’s sick of her friends blaming their mistakes on peer pressure and claiming they don’t know any better.

So, she’s going to change it.