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GRO argues for rights

Although the general election has passes, the Grass Roots Organizing and the Columbia Housing Authority battle over voter registration continues. From April until the beginning of October, the GRO groups' members went door to door registering voters in Oak and Paquin Towers. Security personnel at the buildings, which is operated by the Columbia Housing Authority, turned away the Grass Roots Organizing workers due to complaints.

Commerce leader reports confidence in Blunt’s goals

Missouri employers are looking forward to seeing lawmakers pass legislation they have supported in the past but seen Democratic Gov. Bob Holden veto, according to one of the state’s top business leaders.

“We are very confident that we will be successful in getting something through the General Assembly this year, and now we have a governor in Matt Blunt who will sign it into law,” said Dan Mehan, president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Adjusting to traffic patterns

There’s a new location for local residents needing to renew their driver’s license or register vehicles.

The Missouri Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing Office opened for its first day of business on Nov. 22 at 1500 Vandiver Drive.

Blunt addresses higher education

Gov.-elect Matt Blunt said Wednesday that higher education in Missouri needs to be more affordable and more accountable to taxpayers.

“College is not just a rite of passage for the elite,” Blunt said at the Governor’s Conference on Higher Education in Columbia. Rather, he said, it is an opportunity for all Missourians who qualify and who want to attend.

Blunt hopes to consolidate technology

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s Office of Administration will experience changes under Gov.-elect Matt Blunt’s administration with two key appointments and the proposed consolidation of the state’s information technology systems.

In a news conference Wednesday, Blunt said he plans to consolidate all state agencies’ information technology departments into one that would be overseen by the Office of Administration.

Grindstone tax district would fund road works

Three companies filed a petition in Boone County Circuit Court to form a transportation development district along Grindstone Parkway.

The development would charge extra sales tax to pay for road projects intended to accommodate a new Wal-Mart and other development in the area. It is the fifth taxing district to be either formed or proposed within Columbia.

Sapp asks city to annex Harg area

A developer’s unique zoning request could have lasting implications on how Boone County and the city of Columbia work together on issues of growth.

Billy Sapp, who is developing thousands of acres of homes, condominiums, shops and a golf course in the Harg community east of Columbia, would like his property to be annexed and receive city services. Sapp wants the city and the county to work together on zoning so the development is appropriately zoned in the county even if the city refuses to annex the area.

Local resident marks World AIDS Day with talk about HIV

As rush hour traffic crawled through downtown Columbia Wednesday evening, white flags with the insignia of a red ribbon flapped in the breeze as a reminder of those who died from AIDS.

Outside Uprise Bakery on Broadway, Columbia resident Brenda Flowers spoke to a crowd of roughly 30 people about what it means to be HIV positive. Flowers’ speech followed a thirty minute candlelight vigil and a musical performance of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” by Andrea Sanderson of St. Louis.

Transition to independence

Mike Harding eats the same lunch everyday — a peanut butter sandwich and a Twinkie washed down with a bottle of Mountain Dew.

For Harding, lunch is about choice, one of many life skills he is taught at Integration Plus, a supported living program for people with developmental disabilities that recently opened its third individualized supported living site in Columbia.

Investigation of Tuesday’s plane crash begins

ST. LOUIS — Federal investigators Wednesday began trying to unravel why a small corporate jet crashed on a Missouri River island, killing the company’s top executive and an employee.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the twin-engine Hansa 320 — registered to an air charter company that lost two planes in five hours last year — went down on Howell Island west of St. Louis about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, shortly after leaving Spirit of St. Louis Airport in suburban Chesterfield.

Senator: Seat belt law likely to pass

JEFFERSON CITY — A key senator predicted Tuesday that legislators will pass a law next session giving law enforcement officers increased authority to ticket people for not wearing vehicle seat belts.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jon Dolan said a primary seat belt law is important for safety and could bring the state millions of dollars in federal incentive money.

Blood often an overlooked military need

During a time of war, weapons, ammunition and food aren’t the only necessities for American military forces. One of the most overlooked needs is blood.

Ten U.S. Army reservists from the Columbia-based 7227th Medical Detachment will be spending the next year at Fort Hood, Texas, taking blood from newly enlisted soldiers.

Bells will be ringing

Do-it-yourselfers and hobbyists appear to be better givers than discount shoppers, judging by the Salvation Army’s tally of donations from the first busy shopping weekend of the year.

The charity reported that its signature red kettles were filled with more than $6,500 in donations over the busy post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend, up roughly $200 from the same period last year.

Committee wary of rushed road taxes

The Transportation Finance Advisory Committee said Tuesday its study of road improvements is being rushed, and as a result all the options are not being fully considered. The study examines how Columbia should fund more than $480 million in road improvements through 2030.

Committee member Bob Pugh couldn’t be at the meeting, but a letter he wrote was distributed to the other attendees and set the tone for the meeting.

Saying Goodbye to Gasper’s

Tears couldn’t stop manager Linda Hudson’s hand from turning the lock.

 Gasper’s, the 39-year-old Kingdom City truck stop, closed its doors for the final time Tuesday, ending the legacy of a restaurant that’s known by truck drivers from coast to coast.

Nixon targets teenage smoking

Missouri lawmakers should use new settlement money the state receives from about 40 small tobacco companies for efforts to reduce smoking among young people, state Attorney General Jay Nixon said Tuesday.

Nixon said Missouri’s smoking rate is the nation’s third-highest, with more tobacco-using high school students — 30.3 percent — than adults smoking statewide, or 26.6 percent.

John won’t seek third council term

Citing time constraints and a promise made in 2002, Fifth Ward Councilman John John said he will not seek re-election to a third term.

John’s second term on the Columbia City Council expires in April, as does the second term of First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton. Both seats will be up for election April 5. Crayton could not be reached for comment on her plans.

Man dies in car crash after causing multiple accidents

Police are continuing to investigate a series of accidents caused by a Columbia man who died Friday night after a police chase, according to a press release from the Jefferson City Police Department.

The incident started when David Ward, 38, left the Jefferson City Wal-Mart on Missouri Boulevard and struck a vehicle driven by Daryl Woodruff, 27, of Jefferson City. Ward left the scene of the accident and was pursued by Woodruff, who notified Jefferson City police, according to the release.

Federal bill may boost Columbia bus system

A financial boost from the federal government might allow the city to buy a trolley bus for downtown and to improve other aspects of its bus service, city officials said Tuesday.

Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., said Tuesday the Omnibus Appropriations Bill approved by Congress has earmarked $842,945 for the city’s transit system. If the bill is signed into law by President Bush, the grant would require a 20 percent match from the city.

Study circle examines aftermath of election

Nearly a month after a bitter presidential election, about 20 Columbia residents convened a study circle Tuesday at the Columbia Public Library to discuss political labeling and reconciliation in the election’s aftermath.

The study circle, which lasted three hours, featured frank exchanges on personal convictions, but participants reported leaving the session with greater feelings of optimism and understanding.

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