More flu vaccine coming

JEFFERSON CITY — More than 100,000 new doses of flu vaccine will arrive in Missouri next week, but unless you’re pregnant, sick, still in diapers or collecting Social Security, health officials say there’s not enough to cover you.

Only 100 of the doses are coming to Boone County. Sue Denny, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health, said that’s because Boone County already has more vaccines for its population than other areas of the state.

Leader of the park

On a windy December afternoon, Jim Gast walks through Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, the place where he has worked in one capacity or another for nearly 13 years. Now, the park will officially become his.

After former superintendent Scott Schulte’s retirement in March, Gast, 45, became the acting superintendent of the park. He will be officially named superintendent today.

Santa to the rescue

Barking, squawking and chatter filled Award Pet Supply on Saturday afternoon as residents lined the store to get their pets’ pictures taken for the holiday season. The event’s proceeds benefit Columbia Second Chance, a private pet rescue organization that finds homes for dogs and cats throughout Missouri.

Howdy Matchery donated his time to pose as Santa Claus.

Budget, election top school board agenda

Those eager to run for a spot on the Columbia Board of Education can file starting Tuesday for the coming election.

Three seats on the board will be up for grabs, as terms for board members Russ Still, David Ballenger and Donald Ludwig expire in April.

Laurie scandal troubles college officials

A national expert in college cheating says he has never heard of a case as extensive as the one alleged against Wal-Mart heiress Elizabeth Paige Laurie.

“It took a significant risk to involve another student so extensively in the cheating,” said Donald McCabe, president and founder of the national Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University. “I think both the extent of it and that it just involved one other person are somewhat surprising. … Certainly you hear instances of somebody paying someone else to take a test or buying a paper off of the Internet, but it’s the fact that it was such an extensive amount of work over such a long period of time that is surprising.”

Release law helps fewer than some envisioned

JEFFERSON CITY — Looking to slow the growth of Missouri’s inmate population, state lawmakers relaxed sentencing laws a year and a half ago to allow some nonviolent offenders to seek release after just three months in prison.

When the Missouri Supreme Court interpreted the law to apply to people already in prison — not just those sentenced after the law took effect — state Attorney General Jay Nixon warned that thousands of inmates could be turned loose, making communities less safe.

Rock Bridge will choose construction bid for flooring project

The annual budget for Columbia schools tops the agenda for the Columbia Board of Education’s meeting today.

Superintendent Phyllis Chase will give a report to the board about the 2004-05 fiscal budget and an update on planning for the 2005-06 budget. The board will meet at 7 p.m. today at the administration building, 1818 W. Worley St.

Fluffy, don’t eat the ornaments!

The tree is decorated, tinsel surrounds the mantel, and mistletoe hangs above the doorway. All the Christmas decorations are up, creating a spirited atmosphere within the house. The only problem is, the cat won’t leave them alone.

Pets can be detrimental to holiday decorations, but the decorations can be just as detrimental to pets.

A memorial day for children

When Del McMillen walked into her first Missouri Compassionate Friends meeting, she couldn’t even speak her name.

The grief after her 10-year-old grandson’s death had muted her.

Turn eyes to skies tonight for meteors

If the sky is clear tonight, as predicted, anyone wanting to catch a glimpse of a meteor shower will have a chance. The Geminid meteor shower will reach its peak tonight.

According to Geoff Chester, spokesman for the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Geminid shower is one of the most reliable of the annual periodic showers.

The Shelter to gain new federal funding

U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof announced Sunday that $247,925 in federal funds will be given to The Shelter, a local organization devoted to helping victims of domestic violence.

The money will be used to establish a transitional living program consisting of three apartments and a day-care facility.

KBIA to begin broadcasting high-definition radio

KBIA/91.3 FM will be the first station in mid-Missouri to use high-definition (HD) radio technology.

The station’s 20-year-old transmitter was replaced this week with approximately $255,000 worth of new equipment. The installation is part of an ongoing project that should hear high-definition radio broadcasts beginning in late March or April, said station manager Michael Dunn.

The nature of fire

Among the natural elements, fire represents that which is most scarce. Humankind rose to evolutionary prominence on the shoulders of fire and then declared itself master of the element. Fire has been made invisible. It has been made available. It has been made convenient. Yet there exists a great divide between that which is harnessed and that which is controlled. In life and in art, fire represents a force of creation as well as destruction.

Across Christian lines

With one year and four publications under their belts, members of the Dwelling Together production team are determined to continue to encourage, inspire and build community among Christians in Columbia.

The publication is distributed to 120 pastors and 550 priests, elders, ministers, deacons and other spiritual leaders from Columbia’s Christian churches.

Study: Tobacco donations can affect voting

Where there’s smoke, there’s money.

For each day Congress is in session, the tobacco industry spends an estimated $138,774 on lobbying. That’s not including the $24.8 million tobacco companies spent on political campaigns for federal candidates in the past six years.

Smoking out tobacco

The thought of a man with no jaw leaves fifth-graders at Russell Boulevard Elementary School gasping and shuddering.

The conversation in Columbia police officer John Warner’s weekly Drug Abuse Resistance Education class is energized and frank. Before math class on this Tuesday, it has led a curious 10-year-old to ponder the effects of mouth cancer from tobacco.

Winding Muddy wheels

Tiffany Voorheis, 15, pulls her shoulder-length brown hair into a ponytail while her friends, Robin Hargis, 15, and Megan Beckley, 16, squeeze riding helmets over their heads.

“Ah, you’re gonna put your hair up high like that?” Robin asks. “You’re supposed to put it down low, so it hangs outside the helmet.”

Community Sketchbook

Chores take the merry out of Christmas

I’m in the frantic mode of Christmas preparations, so I’m a little cranky these days. I can’t figure out why decorating and wrapping presents is such an ordeal.

Whoever invented the ornament hook has made millions, but if someone could come up with a better way to package these thin metal gadgets, I, and about a billion others, would really be appreciative. I’d even pay double for hooks that come out of the package one at a time. Sure, they look as if they have been placed in a single line, but try taking one out and you get 150. I spend what seems like hours untangling the darn things.

A greater understanding

In Mark Mueller’s chilly but spacious sculpture studio in MU’s Marx Building, one can’t help but notice the life-size molds of human heads that sit on a nearby utility shelf — molds that bear a striking resemblance to Mueller.