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Square roots

Fairgoers young and old square-danced along to the fiddle as the caller gave the next step. Fast and slow, the caller and fiddler worked in harmony. Both are essential for a good square dance, and both captivated audiences at this year’s Boone County Fair.

Robotics team goes national with idea

It sits right off the entryway of the Dunwoody residence — a 4-by-8 table covered with yellow and blue plastic cups, foam balls and robots made of LEGOs and thousands of dollars of electronic components. The Columbia Robotics Team runs trials, watching the robots pick up foam balls and knock over cups.

“We’re just going to keep making changes and minor adjustments,” said Mark Dunwoody, head coach. “We may have these things completely redone by the end of the night.”

Granny’s ministry

Granny Pam Ingram sits in a neon-orange child-sized chair in the middle of a lawn strewn with jump ropes, four-square balls and bubble dispensers. She listens as 8-year-old Keiondre Johnson tells about a near-death experience involving his big toe. Children and volunteers jump, run, twirl and shout all over the lawn of Granny’s House, a nondenominational Christian after-school program.

But at this moment Granny Pam focuses solely on Keiondre, and she reacts to his story as if it’s the most important thing she’s ever heard.

Goals melt as summer sneaks by

I’m not a “glass is half empty” kind of person, but I figure summer is 50 percent over after the Fourth of July even though the rational side of me knows we still have two months to go. I think most of the retail stores agree with me because anything light weight is on sale. Now they’re stocking coats and turtlenecks, and I start itching just walking by.

At the beginning of the summer I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish before fall. Now that it’s midpoint, I like to take stock of where I am with my goals.

The perfect shot

The entire room is trying to get Distany to smile for the camera. Four adults, including her parents, Marlana and Adam Smith, whoop and clap their hands in hope of eliciting a moment worth remembering.

However, the 7-month-old baby, clad in a fuschia jumper and frilly headband, seems more interested in chewing on a set of fat building blocks than she is in posing under the studio lights. She unassumingly gums a green block until her attention is captured by a small Barney doll being shaken above the camera. Distany looks up, head slightly turned and a smile gleaming in her blue eyes.

Singer's style inspired by folk and jazz music.

Jolie Holland's voice is an anachronism. Possessing a melancholic strain common in Appalachia and traditional American folk music prone to dirges and murder ballads, her voice lolls gorgeously in a cadence tinged with jazz rhythms.

At times, it seems steeped in the very opiate of which she sings in the narcotically dark, bluesy "Old Fashion Morphine" on her latest release, "Escondida" - issuing repeated invocations to two infamous junkies, nomadic '30s writer Isabelle Eberhardt and beat writer William S. Burroughs.

Candidates revive bygone tradition of stump speaking at Boone County Fair

Amidst the roar of roller coasters and the lingering smell of funnel cakes stood a stump with a plaque engraved with "Presented by the grand order of Pachyderms. To: Bob Smith. August, 1971." This was the site of 26 stump speeches by candidates for the 9th, 21st, 24th and 25th district House seats, the 19th district state Senate seat and Boone County treasurer, sheriff, administrator and commissioner on Friday at the Boone County Fairground.

Owner Charlie Christy recalled the days of stump speaking's highest popularity when candidates would speak on the courthouse lawn the week before the primaries. "In those days, there were no Republicans in Boone County," he said. "And the primary election was the general election. That was back in the early 1800s."

Life in a carnival

The sounds of the Boone County Fair are surprisingly chaotic, considering that this is supposed to be a fun, relaxing event. The constant hum of carnival ride motors is punctuated by the hiss of compressed air or the shrill scream of a child in the throes of either terror, ecstasy, or both.

Beyond showmanship

Mallory Trosper first met Justin McBee in 1999 when they were both showing calves at a national Junior Angus Show.

“We’ve been good friends and then we started seeing each other last summer and our families became friends,” Mallory says.

NAACP sponsors candidate forum

Racial profiling, the economy and disability services were among the topics discussed Thursday at a candidates forum sponsored by the NAACP. Candidates for the 19th District state Senate seat, the 24th and 25th District House seats, Boone County sheriff, Boone County commission and Boone County treasurer made an appearance at the event at Second Baptist Church, which was also attended by about two dozen residents

19th District state Senate

Teachers take sides

Whoever is elected to the 19th district state senate seat will face having to possibly re-write the public education foundation formula, deal with lagging budgets and look at changing the tax structure. Democratic candidates Chuck Graham and Tim Harlan each have their own plans to close corporate tax loopholes and both oppose tax credits or vouchers for private schools.

With the Aug. 3 Democratic primary less than two weeks away, educational issues have become the focal point of the race.

GOP candidates vary campaigns for governor bid

While Secretary of State Matt Blunt has for months been billed as the presumptive Republican nominee for Missouri governor, those who pick up a GOP ballot at the polls on Aug. 3 will have choices.

Here’s a look at the lesser-known candidates.

McCaskill: Debates neglect rural issues

Gubernatorial candidate Claire McCaskill wants to take debates with Gov. Bob Holden out of the big cities and into Missouri’s smaller towns in the days leading up to the Aug. 3 Democratic primary.

In a conference call Thursday, McCaskill said debates in rural Missouri will address issues that were neglected in debates earlier this week, which were held in Kansas City and St. Louis. McCaskill said the debates did not address issues pertinent to outstate Missouri — defined as rural areas in the state — such as agriculture, ethanol, transportation for school districts and Medicaid recipients who have limited options in receiving services.

Stores set for Best Buy’s competition

The big blue building with the giant yellow tag on Stadium Boulevard is expected to create competition with electronics, appliance and music stores in Columbia.

Best Buy will open in the old Kmart building at 2001 W. Worley St. on Aug. 13. Kmart closed in February.

Singer's style inspired by folk and jazz music.

Jolie Holland's voice is an anachronism. Possessing a melancholic strain common in Appalachia and traditional American folk music prone to dirges and murder ballads, her voice lolls gorgeously in a cadence tinged with jazz rhythms.

At times, it seems steeped in the very opiate of which she sings in the narcotically dark, bluesy "Old Fashion Morphine" on her latest release, "Escondida" - issuing repeated invocations to two infamous junkies, nomadic '30s writer Isabelle Eberhardt and beat writer William S. Burroughs.

Alternate jail facility discusses expansion

Board Members of the Reality House discussed plans with the Boone County Commission on Thursday to add a wing to their existing facility of 210 beds. While no specific financial or design plans have been developed, they want to add 50 new beds.

Reality House is a nonprofit community correctional program that offers alternatives to traditional jail or prison sentences. The county owns the facility and charges rent.

Motorcyclists ride for fund-raiser

It’s time for motorcyclists to show their bikes and raise money for kids.

The second Showme Cruise begins today and kicks off the fifth annual Rolla Rally, which raises money for Missouri Special Olympics. For $35 motorcyclists can register at the Mid-Missouri Fairgrounds in Rolla. Registration begins at 5 a.m. and at 7 a.m. bikers begin a 526-mile, five-city ride to raise money for Special Olympics.

Putting them through their paces

Tape marks on the floor outline the boundaries of the stage. Folding chairs stand in for fences, stools and even a butter churn, and the temptation to sit on them is great.

Even without props, scenery and rehearsals on the actual set — until shortly before opening night — the actors for this summer’s Performing Arts in Children’s Education productions have created two distinct shows with nothing but a script, music, choreography, directors’ guidance and their own energy and enthusiasm.

Police seek 3 in two rape cases

The Columbia Police and Boone County Sheriff’s departments are still searching for three men in connection with two separate rapes that occurred within the last week.

The first rape occurred at 10:45 p.m. Sunday in Worley Street Park when a 36-year-old Columbia woman was forced into the park and sexually assaulted by two men, police said in a release.

Racing down the muddy track

Holly Burnett and Ian Diegelman raced down the muddy 125-foot long track, the roaring of their trucks drowning out the cheering of the crowd.

“Blue Angel,” Burnett’s shiny ’87 Chevy ripping through the muck, came in second, right behind Diegelman’s red ’78 Dodge, in the first class of mud races at the Boone County Fair on Thursday night.

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