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In September, Christine Gardner moved in to an independent retirement community on Bluff Creek Drive.

Along with several of her belongings, Gardner brought with her Ophelia, her cat and faithful companion of eight years.

Local UCC supports barred ad

Amanda Helm came to Columbia looking for a church she could agree with. At Columbia United Church of Christ, she found the inclusiveness she was seeking.

The Columbia church is now one of 6,000 United Church of Christ congregations nationwide enmeshed in a battle with NBC and CBS over the church’s ad campaign.

City considers reduced-cost rec services

The Columbia City Council will receive a report at its meeting tonight proposing a pilot program that would give financial assistance to low-income adults using Columbia Parks and Recreation facilities, including the Activity and Recreation Center.

Parks and Recreation director Mike Hood said his department has received many inquires from low-income adults looking for aid.

Agencies brace for budget cuts

State social service and education officials are expected to have to cut or reduce programs next year, when millions of dollars are redirected to pay for transportation and road projects.

More than three-quarters of Missouri voters approved Amendment 3 last month, which amends the state constitution to redistribute General Fund revenue from vehicle and fuels sales taxes.

Lost, then...Found

You are snaking along your daily route, eyes gliding across the familiar scenery of flickering traffic lights, cars, passers-by, buildings and trees. For a second, bored by the predictable imagery, you look down and find a tattered note. You pick it up and straighten it, gently shaking off the dirt. It’s scribbled in a hurry, but it’s readable. You fall in love with it before you can make out the words. You have found a shred of human communication. It’s raw and honest, and you can relate to it. You stuff it in your pocket gently, grinning at the thought of owning a piece of someone else’s life.

With or without words

The world of found items looms larger than notes and photographs. It includes mismatched gloves, broken headlights, animal skeletons, “lost pet” posters and mattress tags. The things around us are transient documents of human life, says Ron Stegall of the Ephemera Society of America.

They are a window to the people who made them and the time when they were produced. The society is a gathering of people, most of whom don’t scour sidewalks for “finds.” They are collectors who buy at auctions or antiques stores to complete an inventory of old transit system maps, Victorian Valentines, early newspapers or shipping invoices. The society, which has a Web site at www.ephemerasociety.org, holds annual gatherings and has published books on collecting.

Preserving your finds

Thinking of collecting stuff? Here are a few tips from Jenny Dowd, an MU graduate art student who is doing her thesis on collections:

Collecting is an individual process, and the possibilities and approaches to collecting are endless. I organize, label and store objects differently depending on what they are and what they represent to me.

Passionate about finding? Join the club

Davy Rothbart, 29, raps, writes and is a contributor to “This American Life,” a radio show on National Public Radio that tells the stories of ordinary people. Rothbart’s curiosity is a blend of his father’s tendency to ask questions and his mom’s spirituality — she channels an ancient spirit named Aaron who has been living in the Rothbart home for many years. Rothbart grew up snooping around other people’s lives, learning about their problems while signing for his deaf mother, who is a counselor.

The nature of air

Something old, something new

Allen Antholz stands in the muddy ground of a Hallsville construction site, hunched over while hammering nails into a large set of wood trusses.

The nail gun is not aligned correctly, so Allen and his co-worker Aaron Hopke have to finish hammering the rest of the nails old-fashioned way.

Community Sketchbook

Massage therapy gaining acceptance

Massage therapy has become a popular alternative not just for relaxation and pampering but also as a health treatment. Whether they choose a room scented by incense with soothing music playing in the background or a traditional medical setting, more people are turning to massage as an alternative treatment.

“There’s been a general growth and awareness about the value of massage therapy,” said Diane La Mar, owner of Columbia Massage Care.

Son irritatingly successful with impulses

I have written many times about our seven children. All of them are pretty normal except one — our middle son. I don’t know how to describe him other than he is unique. I don’t use that word lightly because it means one of a kind, and very few things in life fit that definition. My son does.

He was delivered while I was under hypnosis, and I don’t think he’s ever come out of the spell.

East meets West

Students gather inside a dimly lit room at Gold’s Gym downtown. Thirteen pairs of fit arms stretch far in front. Their limber bodies kneel, pushing every muscle into blue, padded mats.

Suddenly, the rhythm picks up. Without hesitation, the students swiftly stretch from one position into the next. The college- and middle-aged crowd begins to break a sweat, meticulously switching from downward dog to plank to cobra — yoga lingo that may as well be Greek even to some of the more devout students.

After the election two political volunteers reflect on what’s ahead for country

As the weeks after the election begin to mount, political activists demote yard signs to basements and bumper stickers go unnoticed. The anticipation is over. Local campaign volunteers get an extended vacation.

Republican Gloria Hay and Democrat Margot Lubensky have found time to rest, recuperate and reflect on an election that some predicted would be close enough to break records. Although many pundits said the outcome reflected deep political divisions across the country, Hay and Lubensky said today’s political climate is nothing compared to the heated rifts that severed the nation in the past.

Democrats send regrets to Blunt

There will be at least two different invitations printed for Gov.-elect Matt Blunt’s inauguration, though neither will be required to gain admission.

Official invitations to the Jan. 10 ceremonies — for which no ticket is required — are being sent by John Hancock and Associates, a firm that advised Blunt during his campaign. Hancock has requested that all legislators turn in a list of those they want to invite and pay $2.50 per invitation.

Senators propose fuel, casino taxes

Two Senate Republicans proposed tax increases on the first day Missouri lawmakers were allowed to pre-file bills for the legislative session that begins in January.

Tuesday, Sens. Jon Dolan, R-St. Louis County, and Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, took the opportunity to propose an increase in the state tax on motor fuels and on casino boat admissions, respectively.

Businesses on guard for holiday season theft

As the holiday season approaches, local businesses are preparing for an increase in sales, as well as an increase in theft.

Arrests for shoplifting in December 2003 were almost 47 percent higher than in the previous month: 72 arrests were made in December up from 49 in November. And that only reflects the number of thieves who were caught.

Exercising body and mind

Her mother’s illness convinced Karen Neely that she needed to do something about her own health. Four years later, the 56-year-old librarian is getting ready for her first triathlon.

“I became an athlete at the age of 52,” she says.

Floyd steps in as UMKC head resigns

University of Missouri system President Elson Floyd will split his time between Columbia and Kansas City during the next few months, until he names an interim chancellor for the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

UMKC Chancellor Martha Gilliland announced her resignation Friday amid faculty displeasure with her leadership during the past 4½ years.

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