Columbia man among four killed in Iraq

FORT CARSON, Colo. (AP) -- A Columbia, Mo., soldier was among four soldiers killed when a homemade bomb exploded near their vehicle in Iraq, the Army said Monday.

First Lt. William A. Edens, 29, of Columbia, died Thursday in Tal Afar, Iraq, when the bomb detonated near his Stryker military vehicle.

Donation will fund autism center

One family’s contribution to the For All We Call Mizzou campaign will offer new hope to families and children dealing with autism.

William Thompson, co-chairman of the campaign steering committee, and his wife Nancy donated $8.5 million to fund the Thompson Family Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton announced Friday. Deaton said the new center will conduct autism research and provide service and teaching.

Teens scope summer gigs at youth job fair

Approximately 200 Columbia teenagers packed a Ramada Inn conference room Saturday, snacking on hot dogs and scouting information booths for summer activities.

“We’re doing this for you,” Mayor Darwin Hindman told participants. “We’re trying to make your summer better.”

Is third time a charm for Sapp and Harg group land agreement?

After weeks of negotiations with neighbors, developer Billy Sapp filed an annexation and zoning request for 805 acres on Friday.

The request is his third effort to start developing the land he owns east of Columbia on both sides of Route WW. Two earlier requests were blocked by a group of neighbors known as the Harg-Area Residents for Responsible Growth, HARG, who say they have now come to tentative agreements with Sapp.

River Tales

In George Caleb Bingham’s 1852 lithograph “In a Quandary (Mississippi Raftsmen Playing Cards),” a quartet of raggedly dressed men float down the river on a raft. Two players are sitting on a long bench; one man has just made his play, and the other is pondering his next move. The other men stand ready to give advice. Behind them, a bluff overlooks the steady Mississippi River, and a fearsome line of thunderclouds looms in the distance.

The vessel isn’t carrying cargo but actually functions as cargo itself. At the time, lumber cut upstream was bound together in “flats” and sent adrift downstream. At its destination, the rafts were split up and the lumber sold.

Missouri's stake in Cuba

Increasingly, when Cuban families sit down for dinner, the chicken and rice they eat and the milk they drink comes from Missouri.

That’s because American capitalism has crossed the Florida Straits for the Port of Havana in the form of cargo ships full of agricultural goods from big business and small farmers alike. For the past four years, Fidel Castro has been playing political poker, betting he can influence U.S. policy toward Cuba by going to famers and local decision-makers. But now, the Bush administration has raised the stakes, and Missouri farmers could be among the players to lose their chips.

Crafty doctor

At first glance, the woodworking shop behind the Abernathie home looks like a guest house. It is a large room with cathedral ceilings that smells of the great outdoors. The tables are covered with blueprints, metal objects and wooden planks.

Dennis Abernathie keeps office hours as an orthopedic surgeon in Columbia. In the evenings and on weekends, he retires to his workshop, making headboards, cabinets, foot stools and other furniture.

To pack fast, be sure to keep husband away

We’re moving out of our lake house next weekend and though I only have one and a half boxes packed, I’m not worried. I was an Army brat in my youth and had to learn the art of packing if I wanted to see my personal stuff in one piece on the other end.

Packing begins with selecting the right box. The perfect size should be no larger than 3 feet by 3 feet. I refuse to pay for boxes that will only be used to transport items from one place to another, so I go to grocery stores and beg for any box they haven’t already pitched. I think it would be a terrific service if the local grocery stores placed bins in a covered area where I can drive up and get what I need without having to go into the store, bother a clerk who has to go to the back room and search, and then once he hands me the two or three he’s found I have to walk through the store bumping into displays while people stare at me and shake their heads in pity, secretly thanking God that it’s not them moving. The warehouse store east of town has the right idea, but they cut off the lids and moving with boxes without lids is worthless.

Blunt’s budget to cut funds for arthritis centers

“One, two, take your time, three, four, shoulders back, five, six, happy thoughts and a big smile — all together,” exercise instructor Fabiola Lopez shouts in time to the music of Frank Sinatra while 13 seniors gently raise their arms and legs.

The 11 women and two men remain seated in plastic chairs, their movements limited by various degrees of arthritis.

Home Delivery

In a darkened room lit only by candles, John Hahn cleared away all distractions to create a safe and quiet space for his wife, Jessica, to give birth to their son, Riley.

Away from a fast-paced hospital with its monitors and IV tubes, the Columbia couple opted for the comfort of their home to deliver their second child. After four hours of labor — most spent in a bathtub that only hours before had been cluttered with toddler bath toys — Jessica Hahn, 32, welcomed Riley into the world with the help of a birth assistant. A doctor arrived about a half-hour before full dilation to finish the delivery.

Devoted Teaching

Sister Nadine Flott awakes before 6 a.m. each day and says her prayers in the quiet of the pre-dawn light that filters through her blinds. She arrives at St. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Boonville about an hour later, taking her customary post at the school’s side door to greet each arriving student, most of them by name. “Here comes my best friend,” Sister Nadine hails first-grader Morgan Browning.

“No jacket, today?” she asks another student who is wearing short sleeves on a chilly March morning. “Aren’t you going to be cold during recess?”

House panel rejects state schools plan

JEFFERSON CITY — A plan to change the state’s school foundation formula suffered a significant setback Thursday with a House committee’s vote to defeat the proposal.

“What you saw here was a rural versus urban divide,” said Rep. Brian Baker, R-Belton and chairman of the House Special Committee on Education Funding.

Firings cause confusion for department

Missouri State Fire Marshal William Farr resigned earlier this month, and the Missouri Department of Public Safety now lacks directors for two of its divisions.

Farr resigned April 15, four days before Keith Fuller, director of the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, and his deputy, Lori Baskins, were fired after an internal investigation. Public Safety spokeswoman Terri Durdaller said Farr was not under investigation when he left, but she would not say more about his departure.

Porter’s legacy goes beyond the arts

Mary Nell Porter’s friends have a daunting set of tasks.

They are trying to figure out a woman who was involved in everything but who kept each part separate. They are trying to pinpoint telling moments of a woman who was always organizing her next activity.

Airport’s future up in the air

Don’t call Columbia Regional Airport to ask when it’s closing down. Airport Superintendent Bill Boston is getting a bit tired of handling those calls.

But you can’t blame people for being concerned. The number of passengers flying through the airport annually has declined from 41,000 in 1994 to 18,000 in 2004. That statistic is alarming even for airport administrators, who face increasing competition from shuttle services such as MO-X and blame potential passengers’ misperceptions about service at Columbia Regional.

Tour offers a taste of updated kitchens

Five state-of-the-art Columbia kitchens will be open Sunday on the Kitchens in Bloom Home Tour. The tour is a fund-raising event for the Boone County Council on Aging.

“The kitchens are fabulous,” said council member Stephanie Panagos said. “They’re dream kitchens that some of us just wish we could have.”

Vaccination bill passes committee

JEFFERSON CITY — After several changes, the House Health Care Policy Committee on Wednesday brought mercury-free vaccinations one step closer to law.

The bill now awaits debate on the House floor.

Student queried about scuffle

A representative of the MU Office of Administrative Affairs interviewed a University of Kansas student Thursday who says he was assaulted by MU Police Chief Jack Watring during a scuffle over a sign at a March 6 basketball game at Mizzou Arena.

Chris Kaufman said he spoke with Lisa Wimmenauer, associate director for Administrative Affairs, in a private meeting. She also interviewed his friends Christian Green and Rich Littrell, who were with him at the game.

Center to kick off public fund raising

After nearly 14 years in the making, the Health Adventure Center will make its final push for the money it needs to open next year.

The interactive health-education center will kick off its community campaign on May 22. To date, the center has raised more than $3.7 million of its $5.2 million goal, said campaign spokeswoman Wendy Knorr. The center’s board of directors and its capital campaign committee have been raising cash for the past 18 months, she said. Most of the money has come from larger foundations and organizations.

Fee office in Columbia to transfer to local owner

The state-owned Columbia branch office of the Missouri Department of Revenue will shift to the private ownership of Columbia businessman Scott Atkins on Monday.

Atkins owns Columbia-based Tom Atkins Investments, which is named for his father. Both men are also involved in a series of enterprises ranging from investment banking to real estate development. Gov. Matt Blunt granted Scott Atkins a contract to operate the fee office as part of a larger promise he made during his State of the State Address to eliminate the revenue department’s 11 branch offices around the state.