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McCaskill happy with job as auditor

JEFFERSON CITY — Claire McCaskill, the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Missouri governor, is happy with her job as state auditor and plans to pursue re-election to the office in 2006.

“A campaign like that is a little bit like childbirth,” McCaskill said Wednesday about her bid for governor. “You have the baby, and it’s so painful, and you think, ‘I don’t know if I ever want to go near my husband again.’”

North Pole just a phone call away

For one day this year, jolly old St. Nick will answer phone calls from children in Columbia.

Columbia Parks and Recreation and Paquin Tower will co-sponsor the Santa Hotline on Saturday. Children ages 3 to 10 can call the “North Pole” from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to speak with Santa, Mrs. Claus or one of the elves.

Mo. Rep. Bishop dies at 35 of illness

JEFFERSON CITY — State Rep. Dan Bishop of Kansas City died Thursday in Arizona after an illness, House colleagues said. He was 35.

Mr. Bishop, a Democrat, won the election in November to a second term from District 38 in Clay County, and colleagues had recently elected him vice chairman of their House caucus.

Best of the Vine

Spitting is appropriate when it comes to deciding America’s top wines.

Wine testers are in Columbia at MU’s Eckles Hall this week to distinguish the top wines for the fifth annual Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition. From a pool of 500 wines, less than 1 percent of the wines will receive the award in final judging today.

Student housing OK’d by P&Z

The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to recommend that the City Council approve Columbia College’s new master plan.

The plan calls for possible apartment-style student housing on the southeast corner of Tenth and Rogers streets, as well as on the north side of Wilkes Boulevard, between Eighth and Range Line streets.

Holiday spirit in full bloom

Judy Burton looks at poinsettias Wednesday in the lobby of MU’s Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building at the annual sale organized by the MU Horticulture Club.

Sending toys into war

Jennifer Roberts of Columbia is trying to send 1,000 toys to children in Iraq. She says it is her way of feeling proud to be an American.

“I’m a mom, and I, for whatever reason, just feel it is our responsibility to take care of the kids over there that have suffered as a result of the occupation,” she said. “I want to be proud to be an American and people need to do something as Americans to contribute to the ideals that our country represents.”

EARS device alerts drivers to rescuers

A new device that alerts drivers to approaching emergency vehicles recently made its debut in the small town where it was invented.

Hallsville residents Rick McBroom, a former law enforcement officer, and his wife, Connie, a former firefighter captain and emergency medical technician, recently invented the Emergency Alert Response System, or EARS, which is being installed in Hallsville school district buses and Boone County emergency vehicles.

MU will not pursue hotel plans

After three years of seeking approval to lease 25 acres of property for the construction of a hotel and conference center, MU decided not to pursue the issue with state legislators in the upcoming session, MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said.

Although MU will not abandon the idea of a hotel and conference center, it will try to get state funding for a health sciences research center.

Pierpont looks for ways to expand

Pierpont residents might have the self-governance they were seeking, but the newly incorporated village still relies on Columbia for some assistance — like a conference room.

The Pierpont Board of Trustees held its first public meeting at Rock Bridge Elementary School on Wednesday night to discuss how to handle its new independent status.

City studies revamped public housing

The East Park Avenue Public Housing Development may face demolition if the Columbia Housing Authority gets its way. An ordinance under consideration by the City Council would authorize spending $50,000 to hire a consultant to assist with a project that proposes demolition of the development. The housing, which has 70 units, would be replaced with construction of “various types of dwelling units targeting mixed incomes; it could also possibly include a mixed use component with compatible commercial uses,” said Bill Watkins, assistant city manager, in his report to the council.

Court to evaluate probation rights

A Boone County case argued before the Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday could set new precedent on the rights of defendants in probation hearings.

The case, State ex rel. Paul E. Hoover vs. Ted Boehm, examines whether someone accused of violating probation has the same right to directly cross-examine witnesses as a defendant in a criminal trial.

Advocates want medicinal pot on the state agenda

Advocates of marijuana reform are hoping to follow up their success in Columbia with a statewide law to protect medicinal users of the drug. But while local residents overwhelmingly supported medical marijuana at the ballot box, taking the law statewide will be difficult.

“It will be an uphill fight, but it’s possible,” said Dan Viets, a board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “We clearly had a lot of support for Proposition 1 from Republican voters, and there are many Republicans — I’m sure — in the legislature who recognize the importance of marijuana as a medicine.”

Angling for new hires

Surrounded by hunting gear, a full-size mounted lion and red fox, and Bass Pro Shops’ NASCAR stock car, between 30 and 40 aspiring salespeople awaited their interviews on Monday.

“I’ve never seen a job fair like this,” Jerry Foriester of Columbia said. “It’s comfortable; it relieves some of the pressure.”

Petition calls for small-farm support

The Missouri Rural Crisis Center wants state lawmakers to put their mouths where their money is.

The Columbia-based advocacy group has started a petition drive calling for Jefferson City legislators to pass a bill requiring the state to buy 10 percent of the food consumed in government buildings and institutions from Missouri farmers.

T-Man changes rhythm of youths’ lives

It certainly isn’t Tyrone “T-Man” Raybon’s physical build that demands respect from the underprivileged youth enrolled in the Moving Ahead after-school program at the Columbia Housing Authority’s J.W. “Blind” Boone Center. His firm discipline, strict eye and intimidating speech exaggerate his 5-foot 7-inch, 152-pound frame.

Who’s to say what it is that draws children to “T-Man”? Maybe it’s his big heart. Perhaps it’s his confident gait. Whatever the inspiration, 20 to 25 arrive at the center every Monday through Thursday seeking a dose of his devotion.

A camera’s eye view of the Iraq war

Two photographers who have worked in Iraq for more than a year say their experiences have been dangerous but worthwhile, both to them and to the public.

“As photojournalists, we try to give a voice to people who don’t have one, and we go to places where the public can’t,” said Stefan Zaklin, a graduate student in photojournalism at MU.

Blunt’s search for chief of staff over

Gov.-elect Matt Blunt has selected his former Sunday school teacher, Ken McClure, to be his chief of staff.

“I’m very pleased that Ken McClure has agreed to continue assisting me in this effort,” Blunt said Tuesday.

Anti-annexation petition aims to halt Sapp plan

Boone County residents opposed to a 1,000-acre development of homes, condominiums and a golf course will not sue the city of Columbia over a proposed annexation of the property, said Patrick Cronan, the residents’ lawyer.

Cronan, who said he nonetheless believes such a lawsuit would succeed, said he expects to accomplish the same goals with a petition drive to force an involuntary annexation, which requires more land to touch the city than the current tract has.

The world according to Dud

Like any artist, Justin Lawson hears from people who don’t like his work. But the student cartoonist could end up having the last laugh.

Lawson, a 19-year-old sophomore at MU who signs his comic strip as Dud, is one of five cartoonists left in mtvU’s Strips contest — a nationwide contest of competing college comic strips on MTV’s 24-hour college television network. On the line is a development deal with United Feature Syndicate, which syndicates comics like “Peanuts,” “Dilbert” and “Pearls Before Swine.” The final votes were cast online Sunday at mtvU.com where the results will be posted on Monday.

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