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Absentees indicate voting surge

If the number of absentee ballots being cast is any indication, Tuesday’s primary is going to be a wild one for the Boone County Clerk’s office.

The office set a record Tuesday when it processed 323 absentee primary ballots. Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren said she and her staff processed between 250 and 300 absentee ballots every day last week.

Interests connect for volunteer at Wisc. air show

Of more than 4,500 volunteers running the country’s biggest air show this weekend, one Columbia man is doing double duty during what he considers a vacation.

Greg Heifner is filling two roles when he travels to Experimental Aircraft Association’s Airventure Oshkosh in Wisconsin. He volunteers as a staff photographer for the EAA and supplies primary Internet connections for the association and a flight management software company.

Oakland Plaza Lanes shuts down its lanes after 30 years

Adonna Mason has been going to Oakland Plaza Lanes since she was 12. “I can remember my sister and I playing downstairs, while my parents would bowl upstairs during the Skater Bowls,” she said. “There used to be a skating rink downstairs.”

Mason, 37, used to bowl at least twice a week. On Monday nights, she would bowl for an MU faculty and staff league. One afternoon a week she would bowl with a not-for-profit agency that provides support for people with disabilities.

Chief retires after 23 years in Ashland

Retiring Ashland Police Chief Mel Rupard has some advice for the incoming chief — come in with an open mind, get to know the people, find out what the citizens want and see what you can do to provide those services, and be fair, honest and neutral.

Rupard wrapped up his career with a reception at the Ashland Senior Center on Friday evening. Wearing his dark blue Ashland Police Department uniform, he received thanks, congratulations and well wishes. Several people who he had helped during his career came and shared stories.

Movie buffs can see but not hear

Janice Cobb is a big film fan. But she never goes to a movie theater.

Cobb, who is deaf, misses the day when, thanks to open captioning, she could go to theaters with her husband, Donald, and her son, John, and see the latest releases.

Humble retirement

Paintings, photos and cross-stitch samplers on the walls of the Rev. Fred Brandenburg’s tidy study reveal the closeness of the relationships he has with his congregation. Nearly each one was made by a member of Columbia United Church of Christ.

“I appreciate their creativity,” he said. “If you encourage it, people’s talent comes out.”

Enduring Faith

It’s the end of a sweltering day, and the air conditioning in Hartsburg Baptist Church isn’t quite up to the challenge. Marjorie and Carl Thomas arrived early to turn it on before the 6:30 prayer service, but it’s more or less futile in the face of a summer heat advisory. It’s Tuesday night, though, and that means there will be a prayer service, hot weather or not.

The Thomases settle in next to each other toward the back of the church and wait for others to arrive.

‘Reporting for duty’

The Democratic National Convention was winding down with one final night of speeches Thursday in Boston, but some local delegates said that the real work — getting their man elected — was just about to begin.

“I think that it’s incredible to be here, with all of the excitement and color, but basically, I think that the deeper on-going purpose has to do with energizing the people that work at the grass-roots level and inspire our Missourians with a hopeful message that we have the power to restore our faith and confidence in government,” said delegate Elizabeth Kerry of Columbia, who is not related to Sen. John Kerry.

Blunt in federally funded voting ads

Secretary of State Matt Blunt spent almost $48,000 in public money on statewide newspaper advertising that includes his name and picture, urging voters to turn out for Tuesday’s primary.

The ad is to make a return appearance in Missouri’s daily newspapers on Monday — the day before Blunt faces five little-known opponents in the Republican primary for governor. Blunt used federal funds to pay $47,984 to the Missouri Press Association to place the ads twice through Tuesday’s primary in 295 daily and weekly newspapers across the state, said Mike Sell, MPA’s advertising director.

Wish no longer: Wienermobile comes to games

This year at MU football and basketball games, you will hear the high-pitched toot-toot of a Wienerwhistle: Oscar Mayer is now the official hot dog of MU athletics.

John Felver, senior account executive with Mizzou Sports Properties, a private company that contracts with the university, said the company was looking to make more money for MU. The arrangement is part of a larger consumer promotion deal with Kraft Foods, which owns Oscar Mayer.

Sheriff hopefuls focus on meth, policing

During public debates and in personal statements, the four candidates for Boone County Sheriff say that reducing methamphetamine use and increasing the presence of deputies in communities will be priorities, if they are elected.

Combating methamphetamine production in Boone County is a major issue say Democrat Ken Kreigh, a former sheriff’s detective, and Republican Mick Covington, a former captain at the Columbia Police Department. Both Kreigh and Covington have a background fighting drugs. Before he resigned from the department this year, Kreigh was a supervisor of the drug enforcement unit. Covington was an undercover narcotics agent for two years.

Allegations against Carey dismissed

In the end, it was not a question of whether Boone County sheriff candidate Dwayne Carey lied. It was whether it mattered.

Allegations that Carey, a captain with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, lied under oath to cover an affair with a former subordinate were dismissed Thursday. Investigators from the Missouri State Highway Patrol concluded Carey’s testimony was not relevant to the dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit filed in 1999.

Energy costs rise in 2005 city budget

Temporary utility rate increases, which cost Columbia residents an average of $5.90 per month, may become permanent in the next fiscal year as a result of sewer, water and electric revenue adjustments in the proposed 2005 city budget.

With Columbia’s power costs on the rise, the city anticipates the need for a 9 percent overall increase in electric revenue, City Manager Raymond Beck said at a press conference Thursday morning. The increase will replace a temporary 9.5 percent increase that will be effective until Oct. 1.

Bible basics

Dressed in shades of yellow, four groups of children and adult volunteers at First Presbyterian Church attempt to pop up in unison when it’s their turn to sing, “Hallelujah! Praise ye the Lord!”

The result is less than unified — they look almost like popcorn, bursting up with energetic randomness — but that just adds to the fun. Off-tempo shouts and giggles punctuate the familiar Sunday school song, adding to the excitement.

City area working to plan its future

The North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association is working with an independent planning consultant to create a compatible and consistent master plan for its challenging blend of business and housing.

Linda Rootes, the neighborhood association’s founder, said the planning project will explain the area’s vanishing investments and fading residential development.

West Nile discovered in Boone County

West Nile virus has been found in three different mosquito pools in Boone County, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The mosquito-borne disease has yet to appear in birds or humans in the area. One human case of West Nile has been confirmed in St. Charles.

Boone County is one of three Missouri counties with West Nile-positive mosquitoes, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Tuesday, St. Louis County had 72 infected pools and St. Charles County had two.

Columbians cheer for focus on unity

About 160 Columbia-area Democrats were on their feet, clapping and cheering for more than a minute at Boone County Democratic Headquarters on Thursday night as Sen. John Kerry was introduced for his nomination acceptance speech.

In a large room filled with red and blue balloons — and, more important to this crowd, a pair of televisions — supporters laughed at Kerry’s jokes, cheered when he accepted the nomination and burst into applause on points of policy.

MU officials reassure council, say response to NCAA valid

MU athletic department officials reassured the Faculty Council on Thursday that the school’s response to allegations of rules violations by the National Collegiate Athletics Association was “thorough and valid.”

“We feel good about our responses,” said Sarah Reesman, associate director of athletics services. “We went ahead and admitted that we made some mistakes.”

Tests: Seaman died of natural causes

No definitive cause of death was identified in the case of Seaman, the dog of the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles, Waverly Police Chief Jesse Coslet said. According to the final report, Seaman probably died of either diaphragmatic hernia or acute heat stress, Coslet said.

The final diagnosis comes after a necropsy and a pesticides test, performed in the MU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and toxicology tests for poisons and amphetamines, carried out in an out-of-state diagnostic lab.

Saving the sturgeon

If you’re familiar with the terrain of local riverside conservation sites, you may notice some changes next time you pay a visit to the banks of the Missouri River. The bank areas have been dug out and trees have been uprooted in hopes of reviving an endangered fish and at least temporarily resolving a long-debated issue on managing the longest river in North America.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has finished construction of 1,200 acres of shallow-water habitat along the Missouri River from Ponca State Park in Nebraska to the Osage River in Missouri. Boone County is home to two of the project’s sites — Diana Bend and Eagle Bluffs conservation areas. Marion Bottoms and Franklin Island, two other areas managed by the state Department of Conservation, are also sites in mid-Missouri targeted for the habitat restoration.

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