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Politics takes toll on civility, unity

One outcome of this election season for me is that I’ve learned a lot about people in my community. As most everyone knows, I take a lot of pride in being a Missourian. I love being around folks who have grown up close to the soil. I’ve always felt I could find a way to get along with the kind of people who make a creed of common sense.

Somehow, something has sneaked into some people’s thinking that I can’t recognize. We are the kind of people who grew up going to Sunday school. Every year at every church, we did the Christmas pageants, where we dressed up like the wise men and Mary and Joseph and talked a lot about peace on Earth and good will toward men. We learned at home how to say “thank you” and “please” and, in kindergarten, how to play together in harmony. Since then, we’ve worked together, had meals together and shared the same goals for our community.

Two historic buildings up for renovation

More than $2 million will be spent to renovate two city buildings to make them compliant with fire and building codes.

The Columbia City Council unanimously approved a $2.3 million renovation plan on Monday for the Howard and Gentry buildings downtown. They also asked the architects to work on detailed specifications for the project.

A discount on a jolt for your vote

With 30 cents and an 18-year-old’s idealism, Timothy Kiefer turned Election Day into more than just his first opportunity to participate in democracy; he turned it into a test of his capitalist mettle.

Kiefer has worked for Lakota Coffee Co. for all of a month. He came up with a business idea early Tuesday morning that would result in skyrocketing sales and increased recognition for the coffee kiosk he runs at the Columbia Public Li-brary, which served as a polling place Tuesday.

Volunteers provide rides to the polls

Sitting behind the wheel of a large, empty bus with five vacant green seats, Daryll Watkins’ wide-eyed reflection shines through a rearview mirror with a small American flag appropriately hung next to it. For Watkins, the drive is work as usual. But today, his destination could help decide the course of a nation.

“I can go to these places and I show up with my mind and body, and I’m pretty good at it,” said Watkins, transportation coordinator for Services for Independent Living. “But I like going to places that my mind, body and heart is into.”

Drivers share opinions via bumper banter

From foreign policy to flip-flopping, Columbia drivers are adopting personal spins on the campaign season’s political debates.

Boonville resolution keeps up hope of saving bridge

Efforts to save the historic railroad bridge that spans the Missouri River at Boonville have new life.

The Boonville City Council has passed a resolution to preserve the bridge that Union Pacific plans to demolish as early as December.

Volunteers in small, big towns face different campaign challenges

In the final days before Tuesday’s highly anticipated election, campaign volunteers have been fighting to bring the last few undecided voters to their side.

The challenges vary, however, for volunteers in small towns such as Moberly and those in bigger cities such as Columbia.

KC seeks bigger slice of travel pie

As far as the airport’s administration is concerned, all that stands between Kansas City International Airport and domination of mid-Missouri’s air travel market is 30 minutes.

According to mapquest.com, that’s how much longer it takes to drive the 145 miles from the intersection of Providence and Broadway in Columbia to Kansas City Airport versus the 122 miles to Lambert St. Louis International Airport.

Crime neutralized as campaign issue

Between the mid-1980s and early 1990s, according to the FBI, the number of violent crimes in the United States increased 34 percent. In response to public fears, Congress, in 1994, passed several major anti-crime bills that, among other things, put more police officers on the street and encouraged greater cooperation between law enforcement agencies and communities.

During the last decade, however, crime has steadily decreased, reaching a 30-year low in 2003. As a result, crime as a political issue has almost disappeared. The war in Iraq, the economy, jobs, health care and perhaps even stem cell research will have greater influence on the decisions of voters in Tuesday’s election than crime.

Politics creep into the world of gaming

Somewhere in America, people with user names such as “little whip,” “Dr. Guy,” “Draginol” and “Darviathar” are making posts online. Their entry titles include “Why No Matter Who Wins, We’re Going to Be Alright” and “10,000 Lawyers Mass to Attack 2004 Election.”

These are the participants in online forums for “The Political Machine.”

Mo. lawyers ready for Election Day

KANSAS CITY — Squads of lawyers will be positioned at polling places across Missouri on Tuesday as part of a national effort to protect the integrity of the elections.

And no matter whose side they’re on, they’re ready to go to court if they have evidence that voters’ rights have been abridged.

A boost for literacy

To improve their reading and writing, West Boulevard Elementary students are turning to some new arithmetic:

Literacy instruction times two equals language arts proficiency.

Hearnes gets into Halloween spirit

As the “Ghostbusters” theme song mingles with the laughter of an overstuffed pumpkin, a red, life-sized M&M rummages through her bag. Nearby, Spider-Man waits in line with his mother.

On Sunday night, the ninth annual Tiger Night of Fun at Hearnes Center Fieldhouse was under way. The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department sponsors the event each year.

Life in the ER

Even though it’s practically in her job description, Judy Heidlage refuses to be called a hero.

Heidlage is one nurse on a staff of 35 in the emergency center of University Hospital. At 51, she is one of the oldest employees in the ER. It might not be intentional, but Heidlage certainly appears to be the “mother hen” at the center.

Personal Healing

Skidding face first across the road, bicyclist Carmain Dutton felt his body go into shock.

His collarbone was broken. So was a thumb. Road rash covered his body.

Finding the perfect card

Greeting cards might give us that warm and fuzzy feeling, but the greeting card industry is a fiercely competitive industry that generates nearly $7.5 billion annually.

In the United States, about 3,000 greeting card publishers vie for a share of the market, or what’s left of it. Two companies, Hallmark and American Greetings, generate more than 80 percent of card sales each year.

Bargain hunters’ paradise

‘Oh! That is cute!” Shawna Clark, 28, says to her friend, Amber Boone, 24, as she points to a faded blue Old Navy long-sleeve shirt. Amber grabs both shoulders of the shirt and holds it against her body. It’s too large, so she quietly folds it and puts it back in a stack of shirts.

Shawna and Amber rifle through the next pile of shirts on a brown folding table, looking quickly at the tags for the magic size.

Community Sketchbook

It takes courage to vote against family’s choice

It was like the old E.F. Hutton commercial where one word spoken by an individual quieted the entire room.

Last night, I had my bi-monthly dinner for the family. After clearing the table, the grandkids played in the yard while the adults sat around discussing politics.

Tooth decay

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