Call center back in Mo.

JEFFERSON CITY — A toll-free call center for Missouri welfare recipients will soon be staffed in Missouri, costing taxpayers $1 million more annually than if it had been kept in India.

Ash ignites garage blaze

Hot embers stored in a paper bag caused a fire at a private residence in the Hinkson Creek Valley neighborhood early Monday morning, according to Columbia Fire Department officials.

Plans call for green housing

A new, environmentally safe development is being planned in an area south of Northland Drive on the north side of Columbia. The planned development, which would be on 17 acres that have remained untouched since they were annexed in 1969, is called Bear Creek Village, taking its name from a creek on the southwest corner of the property.

More than 16 acres would be used for housing, condensed to about eight homes per acre to prevent sprawl. These dwellings would include single-family cottages, town homes, lofts and small flats with town homes above them.

Field vandal sought

Columbia police have requested a warrant for the arrest of a man believed to be responsible for vandalizing the Hickman High School athletic field this month.

The Jan. 7 vandalism, caused by someone doing doughnuts with a sport utility vehicle, caused an estimated $900 to $1,500 in damage to the turf, police Capt. Brad Nelson said Friday. He said police are not pursuing warrants for two adult male passengers who were with the driver.

Stopping secondhand smoke

Ellen Brooke, a second-year law student at MU, sits in the Stumpy Joe Pete’s Sports Pub part of the Colosseum Bistro on Friday night, smoking her cigarette. She recalls being in Lexington, Ky., on New Year’s Eve and being forbidden to smoke in bars because of the strict no-smoking ordinance recently enacted there.

“We left early because we

$1 million given to MU in grad student’s name

When Lynn Boorady defended her dissertation at MU on Tuesday afternoon, there was more to the story than her receiving a doctorate in textile and apparel management.

Only several hours later, Boorady announced that a private organization would donate a

Family, Marine talk via video

Danette and David Branon had matching Marine Corps T-shirts and hopes of seeing their son to keep them warm during the two-and-a-half-hour drive to Columbia through rough Saturday morning winds.

Seven family members and friends joined the Branons on the ride from St. Louis — all hoping to catch a glimpse of Cpl. Christopher Branon, a 22-year-old Marine combat engineer serving in Fallujah, Iraq.

Study circles discuss diversity

If you want to break down barriers of race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation, then “Let’s Talk Columbia,” a community study-circles program, is for you.

Each study circle consists of of eight to 12 people from different backgrounds and viewpoints who meet to talk about an issue. Trained volunteer facilitators keep the discussion moving forward.

Gentry pupil wins diversity poster competition

“It’s more than a bus ride, it’s a community,” reads Justin Seabaugh’s poster, which won first place in the inaugural Harmony in Transit poster contest during this year’s Columbia Values Diversity celebration.

The annual diversity celebration, which took place Jan. 13 at the Holiday Inn Expo Center, added the poster contest this year for Columbia middle school students.

Get a board game: It’s family night

Mayor Darwin Hindman’s recent proclamation that tonight is Family Night places Columbia among a small but growing number of cities that are taking back at least one night per year from extracurricular activities, television and even homework.

Hindman’s proclamation urges Columbia residents to set tonight aside to engage in family activities that foster unity and strength without separating them from one another.

Field to fuel

Stainless steel silos rise from some of the most fertile farmland in central Missouri. At the end of January, the silos of the Malta Bend plant in Saline County will begin filling with ethanol from Missouri’s first completely farmer-owned ethanol plant. The sparkling new facility, the third ethanol plant in Missouri, is designed to transform 40,000 bushels of corn per day into 190-proof grain alcohol that will be blended with a small amount of gasoline to make it unfit to drink and pass muster with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

By year’s end, up to 48 million gallons of the corn-derived fuel is expected to have left the Malta Bend plant for blending facilities as close as Columbia and as far away as California — and into the tanks of millions of automobiles.

MAP test standards reduced

The adequate yearly progress goals on Missouri’s standardized tests, the Missouri Assessment Program, will be lowered, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced Friday. Columbia public schools said they won’t be affected by the decision.

AYP goals are standards set by the state in communication arts and math that public schools must meet by performing at proficient levels or higher on MAP tests. Each state sets its own standards for these goals.

Council to wait and see on Sapp annexation

The Columbia City Council will not vote on what would be the largest annexation in the city’s history until it learns whether a petition that seeks to block the proposal is valid.

City Attorney Fred Boeckmann said the council would have no reason to vote at the scheduled time if the validity of the petition remains uncertain.

Blunt looks to limit meth ingredients

Gov. Matt Blunt announced Friday he has gained the support of the Missouri General Assembly to pass legislation that would control the key ingredient used to manufacture methamphetamine in illegal labs, pseudoephedrine. This law also applies to ephedrine, which is another form of the same drug.

Methamphetamine, or “meth,” is a stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system. It causes hyperactivity, decreased appetite and sometimes violence.

Last-minute petitioner files for Fifth Ward seat

Three hours before Thursday’s deadline, a fourth and final candidate filed for the Fifth Ward seat on the Columbia City Council. Laura Nauser, a local real estate closing officer, will face Stephen Reichlin, Gayle Troutwine and Joseph Vradenburg for election April 5.

Nauser said she will focus on local education if elected. She is considering her stance on issues such as appropriate city growth and development.

Local resident robbed at gunpoint

A Columbia resident was robbed at gunpoint early Saturday morning outside his apartment complex on the 1500 block of Hinkson Avenue, according to Columbia police.

Police said the suspect approached the victim, displayed a silver handgun, demanded money and left with the victim’s wallet and an undisclosed amount of money.

Columbia man gets sentence for his role in dual murders

Columbia resident Bobby Rohrer and Henry Rehmert of Belle were sentenced Friday in U.S. District court in St. Louis.

Rohrer, 39, was sentenced to 29 years in prison, while Rehmert, 27, received 10 years, said U.S. Attorney James Martin in a news release. Neither will be eligible for parole. In addition, both defendants were ordered to pay $475,000 in compensation to victims.

Santacruz closes after one year of business

For the second time in less than three years, a Mexican restaurant at 220 S. Eighth St. has closed.

Jennie Vogt, a manager at Santacruz Mexican Restaurant, said Friday the restaurant closed because of financial reasons.

Old swing, young musicians

Too young to vote, with one exception, but old enough to swing, the jazz sextet Random Blues performs tunes from an era that predates the birth of the members.

On a recent Sunday evening, the group of Rock Bridge High School students prepares to record its first album in the living room of keyboardist Jessie Roark, 15. Tommy Dorsey’s “Opus One,” Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” and Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” are among the cuts.

Out of the limelight

Oddly enough, for an artist, Robert Bussabarger would prefer to remain anonymous, to slip beneath the radar of celebrity.

Being famous is a distraction, says Bussabarger, a Columbia painter, potter and sculptor, who has somehow managed to resist creating work aimed at a commercial market.