Junk food in jeopardy at Columbia’s schools

The glow of vending machines in the halls of Columbia Public Schools could soon grow dim.

The Columbia School Board has formed a committee that will meet next week to discuss and make recommendations whether to place healthier foods in school vending machines.

New law requires license for fireworks

ST. LOUIS — A new state law could take some sparkle out of Fourth of July celebrations this year.

The law, which passed in the last legislative session, requires anyone who wants to shoot Class B fireworks — the kind that go off after home runs and cap off small-town parades — to get an additional license or to have a licensed operator on site during the display.

Hickman to start program for gifted students

After a year of discussions, Hickman High School has decided to launch a program for gifted students.

The school delayed the start of a gifted program because it already offers advanced and honors programs.

MU researcher predicts rise in child obesity

MU researcher Frank Booth predicts that every child in America will be obese by 2044.

Booth qualifies his prediction by saying that while this is mathematically possible, it might not actually happen. He uses data that shows a three- to four-fold increase in the percentage of overweight children since the mid-1980s, and extrapolates it to arrive at the grim forecast.

Council scraps Smiley Lane plan

The Columbia City Council talked over the road, park and public safety projects they want to make a priority for the next 10 years in an evening work session Wednesday. Without reaching any final decisions, council members shuffled one road project — an extension of Smiley Lane — out of the mix in favor of building a new distribution center for road salt.

The council plans to present these projects and others to voters in November as a package of ballot initiatives that would cost taxpayers more than $100 million if approved.

Ray Beck announces retirement

[Updated 11:01 a.m.] Ray Beck, Columbia’s city manager for 20 years, will retire at the end of the year, he said at a news conference Thursday morning.

"It has been a privilege to serve our city for 45 years," Beck said. "Working in local government allowed me the opportunity to help make a contribution to the total environment of our city."

Consuls try to aid crash victims

Consular officials from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — frustrated by a lack of communication with federal immigration officials — spoke Tuesday to coordinate their response to Sunday’s deadly van accident on Interstate 70, a crash that injured 15 people from their countries and killed five people of unknown nationality.

Meanwhile, as survivors of the accident continued to be released from hospitals Tuesday, the man authorities suspect was the van’s driver was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for possible prosecution.

Eyes on the stars

From the age of 5, Angela Speck has had her head in the clouds — actually more like 240 miles above the clouds. She wanted to be an astronaut, orbiting the Earth studying the closest reaches of space.

The childhood dream influenced Speck through her undergraduate years at Queen Mary, University of London, where she studied physics.

Floyd’s review of fixed tuition gains support from governor

A decision to look at fixed tuition rates as a possibility for the University of Missouri System garnered support Tuesday from Gov. Matt Blunt.

“I commend (UM System President) Elson Floyd for proposing a practical solution to help control rising tuition costs,” Blunt said in a statement. “…His proposal will provide parents and students with a road map to plan savings and estimate costs.”

City, county plan to split study’s cost

Columbia and Boone County officials agreed Tuesday morning to split the cost of a traffic study to determine what should be done about a dangerous curve on Creasy Springs Road.

City planners will investigate the cost of adding Creasy Springs to a traffic survey it is already planning for Brown School Road between Creasy Springs and Range Line Street, then meet again with county officials to determine what they want to do.

Switch saves Boone County $164,000 on liability insurance

Boone County just saved a bunch of money on its liability insurance by switching to a shared risk pool for local governments — more than $164,000 to be exact.

The county is switching to the Missouri Public Entity Risk Management Fund, which will provide workers’ compensation, property and liability insurance.

Suspect in flashings arrested after appearance in court

A Lawson resident who police think is the man they dubbed the “South Columbia Flasher” was arrested Tuesday in Richmond by Ray County sheriff’s deputies.

Richard Paul Cain, 47, was arrested when he showed up in court on unrelated burglary and sexual-misconduct charges.

Gunfire reported, but some witnesses are keeping quiet

Several central Columbia residents reported gunfire near Banks Avenue and Duncan Street on Monday night, but police said some witnesses are reluctant to talk.

“We have witnesses saying they heard shots, but we’re having problems with victims saying they were shot at,” Columbia police Capt. Brad Nelson said. “It might be because they were willing participants shooting at each other.”

Valuable life lessons

Keith Holmes would have been hanging out on the streets. Shante Loethen probably wouldn’t have graduated from high school on time. Sam Adekunle wouldn’t have any extra spending money. Jasmyne McClanahan would simply be bored.

These youths have benefited from the Career Awareness Related Experience program, a Columbia Parks and Recreation Department program that helps 14- to 18-year-olds by getting them jobs and tutoring them during the school year. The program provides employers with free help because the city pays the students. The program, which runs from June 13 to Aug. 5, accepted 200 participants this summer, a record high. Normally, it invites 170 to 180, CARE coordinator Kim Partney said. It also had to turn away 100 applicants.

Handyman pleads not guilty in slaying of 77-year-old

A Columbia man arrested in connection with the May 2 death of 77-year-old Zelpha Turner pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in Boone County court Monday.

Columbia College alumna leads Board of Trustees

Daisy Grossnickle, who attended Columbia College in the 1960s, said it has traditionally been important to the school to instill confidence in young women and to further develop their capabilities and talents.

“The same held true in the ’90s for my two daughters, who graduated from the college,” said Grossnickle, who recently was elected chairwoman of the college’s governing Board of Trustees.

Cut in adoption subsidy prompts planned lawsuit

A group of attorneys is planning to file a lawsuit within the next 30 days on behalf of 20 Missouri parents who will lose state subsidies that help them care for their adopted children. At least one of the plaintiff families is from Boone County, the attorneys said.

“It appears that legal action is inevitable,” said John Ammann, director of the Legal Clinic at St. Louis University and a lawyer involved in the case. “We continue to hear from more and more parents who want to be involved in the case.”

Co-op grants benefit community

A million dollars sure can make a difference in a community. Just ask the nonprofit groups and schools that have received grants from Boone Electric Cooperative over the past eight years.

The grants have helped pay for transportation for the elderly and people with disabilities, equipment for volunteer activities, a senior center and many other projects.

Mo. Supreme Court upholds use tax law

JEFFERSON CITY — The state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Missouri’s use tax law, which allows local governments to tax mail-order purchases at the same rate levied in local retail stores.

Tuesday’s unanimous ruling caps a more than decade-long battle against the use tax.

Program component teaches art

Sierra Jackson is on her way to fusing two of her dreams after this summer.

“I sing with my two sisters,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to design our CD cover.”