Milestone year ahead in many ways, events

This is going to be a banner year. My husband has a milestone birthday coming up. A couple of our kids are celebrating wedded bliss with anniversaries ending in 5s and 0s. My hubby and I will commemorate three decades together. And this year marks 40 years as an alum of David H. Hickman High School.

And although I have nothing to show for my time in high school, no trophies, no queen-in-waiting, not even a good GPA, I still look forward to our class reunions. I wasn’t part of the “popular” crowd. I doubt many of the teachers would remember me (most have gone on to their rewards anyway). I wasn’t a troublemaker, but I did get suspended twice, once for smoking in the girls’ restroom and once for calling my P.E. teacher a bad name (boy, have times changed; that particular word is used daily on daytime television).

Mastering the Music

At the music store, the guitar teacher sits in a room just large enough for two people, casually strumming an electric guitar until the next student arrives.

A poster of guitar notes hangs below a picturesque print of New Zealand. Twenty music books lean vertically against the wall in two clean stacks. A compact disc labeled “Family Tradition” sits next to the small boombox on the carpet.

Columbia is... INNOVATIVE

Innovative (In´e·va´tiv)

adj. 1. ahead of the times.

2. being or producing something like nothing done, experienced

or created before.

The murcury debate

When it comes to dispensing doses of hard-to-obtain flu vaccine this winter, women and children are considered priority recipients along with the elderly.

For Lujene Clark, a southwest Missouri woman whose son is autistic, the flu vaccines are best avoided because they contain thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative some link to the childhood developmental disease.

Im remembered

While Jeong Im’s family and friends crowded into a memorial service for the slain MU researcher, the search for a suspect in the case continued Thursday.

After Im’s body was found in the trunk of his 1995 Honda Accord on Jan. 7, MU Police activated the Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad. The squad is typically activated for five days, but MU Police Chief Brian Weimer said he requested and received an extension to keep the squad on the case. He did not know how long the extension would last.

State has $1 million in unused computers

JEFFERSON CITY — State Auditor Claire McCaskill said Thursday that $1 million worth of state-owned computers and electronic equipment has sat unused in boxes for about a year.

McCaskill said she received a tip the new equipment is stored in its original boxes in a Jefferson City warehouse. She found hundreds of computers, printers, scanners and other electronic equipment purchased by the Department of Revenue in the warehouse.

Bowden still improving

Columbia police Capt. Sam Hargadine said Thursday that the condition of Officer Molly Bowden, 23, was improving, but doctors were still watching her closely.

Bowden, who was shot Monday night, was still listed in critical condition as of 10 p.m. Thursday.

Neighborhood Pioneer

In the 1950s, public housing developments were taking over black neighborhoods in Columbia. Earl and Clara Miles helped lead the way to new opportunities in housing for black families.

“It started out as a dream, a vision,” Earl Miles said.

Teen smoking decline not reflected in Missouri

Near Hickman High School, a group of students gathers in a fast-food restaurant parking lot after the school dismisses at 1:45 p.m.

They talk, laugh, joke and smoke cigarettes.

Group fights annexation

Harg residents live in the county but work and shop in the city, and many residents would like to keep it that way.

Harg Area Residents for Responsible Growth needs to collect signatures from 2 percent of “qualified” Columbia voters — about 1,500 people — to prevent the voluntary annexation of Billy Sapp’s 1,000-acre developments east of Columbia on the north and south sides of Route WW.

Lucrative leases lead to rise in cell towers

When the U.S. flag that flies from the flag pole at Angelo’s Restaurant becomes worn by weather, owner Angelo Skyvalidas calls his cellular company.

“They send me a new one,” he said.

County doles out funding for roads

The Boone County Commission approved 10 revenue-sharing contracts, heard three consultant service agreements and made one committee appointment at its meeting Thursday afternoon.

The commission approved the distribution of about $740,000 for nine Boone County cities. The money is for the mutual benefit of the cities and the county for shared road and bridge improvements.

Smoke detectors are lifesavers

On Dec. 31, Mary DeWell was sleeping in a recliner in her mobile home in Rainbow Village, just a few feet away from where a fire started. If her smoke detector hadn’t awakened her, she might have been seriously injured or killed.

As it was, DeWell did wake up. She tried unsuccessfully to put out the fire. She grabbed her dog and a cordless phone and escaped. She called 911, and fire crews arrived. The fire caused about $10,000 in damage, but no injuries.

Ashland unites to reopen library

The Ashland community has united to help reopen its library after freezing temperatures caused a pipe to break in the ceiling, caus-ing water damage to the building.

“Anytime you have that kind of situation, the silver lining is the community support,” said Melissa Carr, director of the Daniel Boone Regional Library.

Officers in recovery

Columbia police Officer Molly Bowden opened her eyes Wednesday evening after being shot three times in the neck and shoulder Monday night.

Columbia Police Capt. Sam Hargadine said Bowden’s condition was improving, but she was still in intensive care at University Hospital. She was in critical condition as of 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Brown had just started new beat

Curtis Brown, the Columbia police officer who was shot in the right bicep on Worley Avenue Tuesday morning, was released from University Hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

He picked up his house key at the department and left, Columbia police Capt. Sam Hargadine said.

Aging in place

Bettye Jackson said she feels blessed for the things in her life. She feels blessed for her five successful children, her bountiful garden and the chance to age in a safe, comfortable neighborhood.

“This place makes you feel good about being old,” Jackson said. “I think every older person should have a place like this.”

Jackson is a resident of Hanover Estates, one of Columbia’s low-income, senior-accessible housing units. Living in the same apartment for seven years has given Jackson a sense of pride.

MU takes up garage security

MU officials have begun discussing whether the Maryland Avenue parking garage — where a homicide, two suicides and a suicide attempt have occurred in the past year — needs more attention from law enforcement.

Several hospital employees who use the garage said they feel safe there. Others aren’t as comfortable.

Coach arrested in child-predation sting

Boone County Detective Andy Anderson arrested Jeffrey Vernace of Valley Park at noon Saturday on suspicion of enticing a child to meet him to engage in sexual misconduct.

Anderson is leading an undercover investigation that began Oct. 1 into enticement of Boone County children over the Internet. As part of the investigation, Anderson enters Internet chat rooms and poses as female children between the ages of 12 and 14.

Artist reveals designs for Stephens Lake art

Carol Fleming has a vision for Stephens Lake Park. She would like you to be a part of it.

“The beauty of Stephens Lake Park lies in how the land flows,” Fleming said. “The rolling hills rising above the lake soothes the soul.”