Local rescue crew travels to meet Dennis

Missouri Task Force 1, an urban search-and-rescue team based in Boone County, was deployed Saturday to assist emergency workers in the Gulf Coast area.

The team will wait in Meridian, Miss., about 100 miles inland, until Hurricane Dennis moves through the area.

Dennis may bring rain to Columbia

Hurricane Dennis continues to hold the promise of delivering rain to central Missouri.

“Columbia should see an inch starting (today) through Wednesday,” said Butch Dwe, a forecaster at the National Weather Service office in St. Louis.

PedNet blazes urban walking trail

The PedNet Coalition, along with teens from Columbia Art Related Experience, are crafting a one-mile urban walking trail along the periphery of public housing in downtown Columbia.

The Douglass Neighborhood Urban Walking Trail began taking shape after PedNet director Ian Thomas heard from First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton that she and her friends would be more likely to participate in a walking program if there was a route with distance markers.

Reverend at center of lawsuit dies

The former Rev. David Finestead died of colon cancer at his home Wednesday in the midst of final proceedings in a $6 million lawsuit centered around his accused rape seven years ago of Teresa Norris, a choir director at Campbell United Methodist Church in Springfield.

Criminal charges were never filed against Finestead, who was suspended from the United Methodist Church and became a Baptist minister in Kansas.

Police union asks for raises

A recent survey by the Columbia Police Officers Association revealed frustration among officers about low wages and feelings of low morale throughout the police department.

Sterling Infield, president of the police officers association, administered the survey after hearing numerous complaints from officers about salaries and a recent spike in crime.

Bus ride chronicles

Maps of the 2004 presidential election show the ideological divide between different parts of the country. The blue states won by Democrats in the Northeast and West bracket a vast red Republican middle.

Sean McCann, a sports reporter for the South Jersey Courier-Post, had an interesting idea after the election: Find out what people in red America were really thinking.

Dennis raises hopes for much-needed rain

Hurricane Dennis continues to provide some hope for much-needed rain in parts of Missouri.

There is a 30 percent chance of rain in the Columbia area from Tuesday morning to Wednesday night as the storm tracks up the Mississippi River Valley. Jon Carney, a forecaster at the National Weather Service office in St. Louis, said Saturday afternoon there was still uncertainty about the rainfall coverage and amounts.

Cold Stone recalls ‘cake batter’ flavor

Cold Stone Creamery has voluntarily recalled “cake batter” ice cream from its stores nationwide after being notified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the popular flavor might be contaminated with salmonella.

There have been 14 cases of salmonella typhimurium infection associated with the “cake batter” ice cream, according to the FDA Web site. The illnesses occurred in Minnesota, Washington state, Oregon and Ohio.

Columbia provides sister city with relief

Efforts to help Columbia’s sister city in the Republic of Georgia repackage bulk shipments of iodized salt will be one step closer to completion when two salt repackaging machines are shipped Monday.

The locally designed machines are part of an effort to help the city of Kutaisi combat iodine deficiency in children. Since 2001, Columbians have been asked to donate boxes of iodized salt, but the hope is that Kutaisi will now be able to repackage its own imported salt.

Packing the past, facing the future

Marie Gonzalez couldn’t sleep the night after her parents left for Costa Rica to avoid deportation.

The longest the 19-year-old had been away from her mother and father was one week. Now she faces the possibility of six years without them by her side.

How I quit cigarettes ... this time

I have been writing this column for more than five years, and seldom do I get as many e-mails as I have in the past month. Apparently two columns I wrote hit home. The one on smoking cessation garnered almost two dozen responses, and the comments about improper word usage are still coming in. So I decided to update the “still smokers” this week, and then I’ll tackle the abuse of the English language next week.

The same day the column was published, I received a call from a man with a bit of advice. I had written that I had been smoke-free for three months. He told me to stop counting. He said I was setting myself up for failure.

Spreading the charitable wealth

Charitable work is a natural outgrowth of religious belief. Providing food,

shelter, educational opportunities and limited health care is rooted in the theology of nearly every religion.

Smaller groups struggling for a bigger share

Every Tuesday night, half a dozen junior high and high school students gather in a conference room at Faith Walk Ministry, a church in Paris, Mo.

They aren’t there for a Bible study or a youth group meeting. No scripture will be discussed tonight. Yet, for many of them, it beats the alternative: juvenile detention.

Healing presence

Three times a night, Sok Kuan Kam holds a small pink book in her hands as she softly chants what is known in some Buddhist traditions as the Compassion Mantra.

Blasts felt beyond London

State officials urged St. Louis and Kansas City to increase security for their mass transit systems after Thursday morning’s bombings in London. More uniformed police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs were assigned to guard the bus and train systems in each city. This notice came after the national terrorism threat level was raised from yellow (elevated) to orange (high) for mass transportation systems.

Similar security measures were taken at both Lambert-St. Louis International and Kansas City International airports.

MU student gives eyewitness account

EDITOR’S NOTE: This first-person report was filed on Thursday by Sarah Blaskovich, an MU journalism student interning with The Associated Press in London.

Hurricane Dennis could bring rain to a dry Missouri

While people in Florida and Alabama are preparing for possible damage from Hurricane Dennis, the hurricane could bring much-needed rain to part of Missouri early next week.

“One official forecast does take it out into the Bootheel area of Missouri,” said Dale Bechtold, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

Storms, high demand drive gas prices higher

Columbians awoke Thursday morning to discover a spike in gasoline prices, an increase that’s being attributed to high demand and the effects of tropical storms on the global oil market — not the bombings in London.

But Ronald Leone, director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said although the bombings have not affected gas prices at the moment, they could affect them in the future.

Harg well study to aid in cleanup

The water district that will serve the recently annexed Sapp property is planning a study aimed at reducing elevated levels of radioactive particles in water pumped from its Harg well.

In compliance with state law, Boone County Public Water Service District No. 9 began sending notices to its customers on July 1 informing them that drinking water from the well contains higher-than-normal levels of two types of radionuclides: alpha emitters and combined radium. People who drink water containing either type of particle may have an increased risk of cancer, although drinking bottled water is not necessary, according to the notice.

The Sounds of Summer

When James Cutts was deciding which instrument to play in the school orchestra, the cello was the only one that fit his requirements.

“I’m too short to play the bass, and I don’t like the high squeak of violins and violas,” James said. All that remained was the cello. James, 11, has been playing since the fall and decided to continue his new skill through the summer with Columbia’s Summer Music Program.