Small-town Santa

Ron Wilcox of Ashland has been his town’s sole Santa for eight years.

“My son came into my life 10 years ago, and I started dressing as Santa for his day care,” Wilcox said.

Forecaster: Storm may bring Christmas snow

Some Columbia residents bracing for weekend temperatures expected to dip into the teens may find solace in the fact that current forecasts show the possibility of a white Christmas.

According to the National Weather Service, a storm is developing on the West Coast that is moving east, probably reaching Missouri by Thursday night.

Sapp’s joint approval plan fails for Harg

Billy Sapp’s hope that city and county officials could work together to zone a new 1,000-acre development east of Columbia has hit a roadblock, forcing Sapp to focus entirely on city annexation.

Sapp had asked city and Boone County officials to work together to make sure the development would be appropriately zoned even if city annexation does not pan out. However, legal consultants have said the county would not be able to work with the city because of its different zoning regulations, Boone County Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller informed Sapp on Thursday.

St. Louis schools, teachers pitted for contract showdown

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the state’s largest school district, the teachers union said Thursday.

Teachers also voted 1,574-110 to reject the district’s latest contract offer.

Decorations light up holiday spirit

For Bob and Sharon Emery, Christmas is a time for giving — to the electric company.

From the weekend after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, the Emerys’ front lawn on Stirling Drive is illuminated by a display of about 16,000 Christmas lights.

Six arrested in pedophilia case

Six men, including two from Boone County, have been arrested as a result of a covert investigation into child pornography by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. The suspects include a former youth ministry volunteer, a commercial airline pilot, a career military man and a business owner.

“It seems from this investigation that some of the people who are the greatest danger are not the people we tend to recognize,” Detective Andy Anderson said.

Prison staff uses video games to baby-sit inmates

JEFFERSON CITY — Although the Missouri Department of Corrections decided earlier this month to ban violent video games from its prisons, Missouri remains one of only three states that allows any such games at all.

A survey by the American Correctional Association lists Missouri, Maine and West Virginia as the only states that allow prisoners to play video games. All three permit inmates to play sports and science-fiction games.

Woman dies after fall from garage

A woman fell to her death from a parking garage on the MU campus Wednesday afternoon.

MU Police Capt. Brian Weimer could not say why the woman fell, but said MU police were conducting an investigation into the death.

‘Out in the cold’

Cries of outrage from residents of the Park Avenue public housing complex, who fear their homes might be razed in a redevelopment project, are a bit premature, city and housing officials said Wednesday.

“We’re not going to tell them to get out on the street,” said Doris Chiles, executive director of the Columbia Housing Authority.

Historical society eyes museum

Downtown Columbia could get another infusion of culture as talks for a new museum in the area continue.

The State Historical Society of Missouri recently asked the city and MU if they would consider allowing it to become a tenant of a proposed archaeology museum on city-owned land in the Flat Branch area.

Rivals ready for rematch over Supercenter site

With 4,600 signatures and the approval of numerous neighborhood associations, a community organization opposed to rezoning land for a Wal-Mart Supercenter on West Broadway is gearing up for a showdown at a public hearing before the Columbia City Council on Monday.

At a Wednesday news conference at the Columbia Activity and Recreation Center, members of Community First urged residents opposed to the rezoning to contact their City Council members and to attend Monday’s meeting.

School district waits for state budget data

The Columbia School District, it seems, is involved in a waiting game.

District officials must wait for information from the state before finalizing the 2005-06 budget.

Finding your own tree

Each year, in the days after Thanksgiving, families flock to the Christmas tree lots to buy the perfect tree.

For the past 14 years, Ann and Wayne Harmon have provided Boone County with a hands-on Christmas tree experience.

Don’t forget to stuff those stockings

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care … empty and cold with nothing to share.

Kind of puts a damper on the Christmas spirit, doesn’t it? Don’t let your stockings hang lifelessly from the fireplace this Christmas. With a wide assortment of great stocking stuffers available, there is no reason that those giant socks shouldn’t be stuffed to the fullest.

Local art a quirky alternative to prepackaged gifts

The day after Thanksgiving avid shoppers rushed to malls and department stores to find the perfect gift for the perfect price.

Vendors in downtown Columbia suggest there is an alternate route for these holiday shoppers.

Holiday Recycling

Bad gifts are as much a tradition of the holidays as mistletoe and menorahs.

Every year, as you eagerly rip open the brightly wrapped gifts in anticipation of the watch you wanted, you are met with an awful sweater, a pair of too-tight pants or a hideous homemade gift.

Blue-collar Past,White-collar Future

For almost 100 years, an aging 3½ -story building has towered above the corner at Wilkes Boulevard and Fay Street. In faded letters painted over its yellow brick, the words “Hamilton Brown Columbia Factory” label the structure’s place in Columbia history since 1907.

Soon, thanks to a federal grant and the optimism of its owners, the building will be remodeled so it can be useful to the community for another hundred years.

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Not every gift is the perfect gift.

If Katie Scott, 23, were to be given a pedicure set, she would wonder whether she was being told her feet were “stinky.”

Add a personal touch to your gift basket

There are an overwhelming number of choices involved when choosing the perfect wine for a gift and accompanying it with the correct cheese, sausage and crackers.

Many take the easy way out and buy a prepacked gifts basket, but for the more adventurous, there are some key elements involved to create the perfect basket.

Tenants have mixed feelings about renovation work

Tenants of the Atkins building have mixed feelings about plans to renovate the old factory. Most are excited about the pending changes, but one company feels it has been wronged.

The Atkins building, formerly the Hamilton-Brown shoe factory, has been used for years as an office and commercial building. Recent tenants include an eclectic mix, from a mandolin manufacturer and a recording studio to a janitorial supply company and a church.