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80 mentors sought for at-risk youth program

West Boulevard Elementary has the money and coordinators to initiate its new mentoring program, but it still needs 80 volunteers.

Stand by Me is an initiative to mentor at-risk students at the Columbia school district’s first model school. West Boulevard is looking to assist minority and low-income students improve academic and social achievement, said Zona Sharp-Burk, one of the program’s coordinators.

Bass Pro opening slowed by rain, design changes

Bad weather and design changes have postponed the opening of Columbia’s 82,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shop for six weeks.

Originally slated to open in mid-February, the outdoor supply store on Vandiver Drive is now scheduled to open March 31.

Ruling makes goal of water standard urgent

A recent federal lawsuit could soon be making waves in waterways across the state of Missouri.

An April 2006 deadline for new regulations was undoubtedly the most pressing issue of the day. Wednesday for the Missouri Clean Water Commission. It met in front of a crowd that spilled out of a room that held 80 at the Holiday Inn Select Executive Center.

Wal-Mart foes question strategy

On Park de Ville Drive, near the site where Columbia’s next Wal-Mart Supercenter will be constructed, front lawns are still dotted with “No Wal-Mart on West Broadway” signs.

Less than 24 hours after Wal-Mart defeated residents in a bitter rezoning fight, some members of the losing side are beginning to question the methods used trying to fend off the world’s largest retailer.

Four-term rep takes job at MU

Former 25th District State Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson launched a new phase of her career on Monday.

Wilson’s new job as a “specialist” at MU gives her part-time duties in both the Service Learning and Provost’s offices that will pay her $50,000 a year.

City preps for storm

The trucks have been double checked and the staff is on call. But street department Superintendent Jim McKinnon does not expect that the incoming ice storm will cause many problems in Columbia.

“I think we are going to dodge a bullet,” McKinnon said Tuesday afternoon.

2005 legislative session begins

Education funding, taxes and tort reform will once again go before the Missouri Legislature as lawmakers gather in Jefferson City for the opening of the 2005 regular session today.

Gov.-elect Matt Blunt, finishing his term as secretary of state, will swear in members of the House and Senate. Legislators will then select leadership for the new session.

Plan for new turf on track

If synthetic turf is installed at the Hickman and Rock Bridge high school stadiums, each field could withstand more than 300 events each year.

Those stadiums each host 30 to 35 events now.

Helping, an ocean away

The fund-raising efforts for the tsunami victims are going great, said Jutta Hopkins, executive director of the Boone County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“We have raised more than $15,000,” Hopkins said.

Here are some ways to avoid charity scams

As Americans raise unprecedented amounts of money for the victims of the tsunami disaster, the Better Business Bureau is cautioning people about scams that attempt to take advantage of people’s eagerness to help.

If you do think that you have been contacted by a phony charity, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and also with the Missouri attorney general’s office.

Stream issues before state commission

Heavy rains may be appropriate weather for today’s Missouri Clean Water Commission meeting.

Storm-water runoff is one of many factors that continue to challenge the health of Missouri’s waterways, especially in communities such as Columbia, where many stores, industries and new developments are located along its creeks and streams. The commission will discuss drinking and recreational water issues, including the recent lawsuit settled between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, which calls for the state to develop water quality standards consistent with the Clean Water Act by April 2006.

Sapp annexation earns first approval

With public hearings subject to delays and a community petition to prevent annexation in the works, few things are certain about Billy Sapp’s proposed developments.

Two things are certain, though; a public hearing on the developments’ zoning will be held Thursday at the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, and the Columbia City Council will hold a Jan. 18 public hearing on the proposed annexation and zoning of the land, which if approved would mark the largest voluntary annexation in Columbia’s history.

Wal-Mart zoning approved

The Wal-Mart way presided Monday night when the Columbia City Council voted 5-2 to approve rezoning that will allow construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter and accompanying retail development at Broadway and Fairview Road.

Youth program to expand

For the past 15 years, Missouri Boys and Girls Town has operated a group therapy program for children, known as Healthy Alternatives, at its St. James campus. Thanks to a grant of $472,695 from the Missouri Foundation for Health, the program will be available this year to residents of the organization’s Columbia, St. Louis and Springfield campuses.

“We are really excited about this,” said Stacey Koeller, the agency’s assistant director of development. Koeller wrote the grants and received news of their approval in late November.

Teen drivers will be facing police checks

With the help of new grant money, the Columbia Police Department will soon be making an extra effort to ensure that teen drivers are buckled up.

“Fifteen- to 20-year-olds are the ones dying the most on the highway,” said Sgt. Timothy Moriarty, supervisor of the Columbia Police Department Traffic Unit. “This is an example of an effort to target young drivers to make sure they are obeying all the rules.”

Signers lend a hand at church

Scott Courtney sits on a chair in the front of the sanctuary at Grace Bible Church dressed in a gray shirt with the embroidery of Ephesians 3:20. Over his left shoulder, in the background, hangs a sign that reads, “Holding forth the Word of Life.”

At Grace Bible Church, holding forth the Word may mean not even uttering a single word.

‘Big Bird’ finds a friendly roost

Of all the fields, in all the towns, in all the world, the emu now going by the name of Big Bird walked into theirs.

A wandering emu couldn’t have asked for a better temporary home when it picked its way into the Selbys’ field on Sunday. The animal-loving Selbys – Pat, Terry and their twin teenage daughters — already have three dogs and four cats at their home near Deer Park off U.S. 63 between Columbia and Ashland.

A city’s expansion

As the city of Ashland anticipates another year of unprecedented growth, City Administrator Ken Eftink knows this can be a blessing and a curse.

“The challenge is to make sure we are growing the way we have envisioned,” Eftink said. “We don’t want things to get out of control and go unchecked.”

Wal-Mart decision expected tonight

After nearly a year of fiery debate, the Columbia City Council will likely decide tonight whether Wal-Mart can build the city’s second Supercenter on 23 acres of zoned residential property.

Two council members — Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku and Third Ward Councilman Bob Hutton — said they probably would vote in favor of rezoning those 23 acres, which would also entail acquiring and then demolishing five homes. Three other council members said they were undecided.

Home sales climbing

As executive officer for the Columbia Board of Realtors, Carol Van Gorp eyes a lot of real estate statistics about buyers and sellers. In October, she became one of those statistics when she joined the thousands of new homeowners in Columbia.

“Everybody kind of wants to get into homeownership right now,” she said. “We felt like we could get a lot of house for our dollar.”

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