Free to talk

In Judith Martin’s book, “Miss Manners’ Guide to Domestic Tranquility,” she notes an unwritten social rule that Americans have handed down to their children for generations. “The children are already learning that people of good will may differ strongly on matters of religion,” she wrote, “and that one gets along with them best by refraining from comment, as well as discussion.”

But in today’s fast-paced society of 24-hour news channels and the Internet, Americans are exposed to more religious diversity than ever before. In this cable-ready society, is talking about religion the taboo that etiquette mavens once said it was?

All about soul

The artist: Born and raised in St. Louis, Chris Keener is the lead vocalist and pianist for the Columbia band Oh Yeah. At 16, Keener left home to find his mission in life. Living with friends who were in bands, he became inspired and eventually taught himself how to play the piano and guitar. Keener attended MU as an undergraduate, but after less than a year, he dropped out to focus on his true passion: music.

The art: Keener began as a solo artist, but in time met up with his bandmates John Gilbreth, Taylor Bacon and Seth Ashley. Oh Yeah has begun to generate a name for itself in Columbia, playing at venues such as the Blue Note and Mojo’s. The band’s first album, “To Have and To Hold,” has an eclectic range. The band is working on its second album.

Time sensitive

The clock is a symbol of an artificial and arbitrary time, giving a beat to everyday life and sense to human existence. Some hurry on foot; others get angry in traffic because they’re losing precious “time.” Eventually, the vehicles of their haste turn to rust and ruin. And when careless hands forget to set a clock, the rhythm of days, nights and seasons gives sense to this word — “time.”

Curly Joe’s one cool ‘harmonicat’

After taking a shot of vodka to loosen his vocal cords, Curly Joe Harper takes the stage at Bear’s Breath Bar and Grill and begins to do what he does best: play harmonica.

As the Curly Joe Harper Blues Band launches into its first song, Curly slowly starts moving to the blues beat. Taking his first solo, Curly’s right leg begins to shake as his wrists slide his harmonica back and forth.

The disability dilemma

Lloyd Wes Vaughan is seldom without a hat, but not because he wants to make a fashion statement. He’s hiding the hole in his head.

Vaughan is a former maintenance mechanic for the city of Columbia. On Aug. 8, 2000, he was replacing a cracked window on a transformer at Columbia’s Wastewater Treatment Plant on Gillespie Bridge Road when a current surged through the electrical system. Vaughan touched the steel frame on the transformer box, and nearly 14,000 volts of electricity ran through his body, exited out his skull and left the indelible half-dollar-sized souvenir in his head.

Raises for county workers in question

Expectations of a tight 2005 budget may lead Boone County government employees to receive a smaller raise than the increase recommended by the Personnel Action Committee.

The committee, a group of county officials who meet to make salary suggestions to the Boone County Commission, recommended a 3.5 percent merit increase. A study by Public Sector Personnel Consultants recommended a 2.7 percent increase.

Illinois firm buys Columbia TV station

KRCG/TV 13 will soon be under new ownership. Barrington Broadcasting Company announced Friday it will buy the Columbia-Jefferson City CBS affiliate from Mel Wheeler Inc. The terms of the transaction, which is still subject to FCC approval, were not disclosed.

“We’re delighted to have KRCG in our portfolio,” said Barrington Broadcasting Senior Vice President Mary Flodin, adding that the small-to-medium-size market suits her company well.

Challenging youth to succeed

Columbia’s community leaders and advocates of the black community met Saturday to discuss ways to help change the way black males are viewed and how they view the world.

A forum titled “The Black Male — Our Investment in the Future” featured local author Eliot Battle and panelists who discussed problems facing black males and ways to address the problems.

Cheerleading squads bring it to MU to vie for state title

Loud, energetic music, hopeful coaches and girls with tightly curled ponytails filled the Hearnes Center on Saturday.

After qualifying at regional competitions, squads from 155 high schools across the state attended the Missouri State Cheerleading Championships this weekend. The Missouri Cheerleading Coaches Association sponsored the event.

The perfect home dressed to sell

The back of the house at 1009 Dunbar Drive is a wall of windows, overlooking a large lake where geese sometimes gather. The deck outside the vaulted hearth room is shaded by trees.

The interior of the 3,812-square-foot house has hardwood floors, cherry cabinets and a brick fireplace with custom-built shelves. Downstairs is a “party-size” family/recreation room with its own wet bar.

Appealing opportunity to view court in action

Columbia residents who want to know how the state appellate court system works will get the chance Wednesday, when a three-judge panel from the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals convenes at 9 a.m. at the Boone County Courthouse.

The judges — Lisa Hardwick, Robert Ulrich and Thomas Newton — will hear oral arguments in four cases. In between arguments, the judges will explain the proceedings and how the appeals court operates.

City Council thanks volunteer boards

Michael Yoakum is a junior at Rock Bridge High School, and one of more than 200 local residents who serves on the 32 boards and commissions that advise the Columbia City Council. Yoakum recently started a yearlong term on the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission.

Deer hunters start shooting

Saturday’s start of the 11-day firearms deer season brings big business for Missouri and a continued effort to curb the growing overpopulation problem among whitetail deer.

Deer posed no threat 80 years ago when there were only about 400 of them in the state. Conservation efforts in the mid-20th century, however, not only restored the herd but also set in motion a population explosion — taking the number of deer in Missouri to nearly 1 million. About 20,000 of the animals are estimated to live in Boone County alone.

County ready to number crunch

With expensive purchases looming, holiday shoppers aren’t the only ones trying to get their checkbooks in order.

Boone County Auditor June Pitchford on Monday will present her first draft of a budget for fiscal year 2005 to the Boone County Commission.

Taking careful aim

As the sun creaks over the horizon Saturday morning, scattered gun reports will echo through the hills and valleys of rural Missouri, trumpeting the opening of firearms deer season.

The morning light will find thousands of orange-clad hunters stationed in tree stands and lonely forest hollows, patient and shivering with rifles cold as ice. Many will be in the pursuit of giant bucks.

Frolicky fans flock to farewell

The crowd heading into Paige Sports Arena on Thursday for Cher’s farewell tour concert donned black leather chaps without pants, lime green shirts, boas every color of the rainbow and tight, unlaced leather blouses.

Jubilant to be at their first Cher concert, Cindy Mustard, Jennie Griffith and Cherie Campbell — members of the Boone Belles — were convinced that it was the new arena that brought Cher to Columbia. Hardly able to control their laughter, words floated from their lips like bubbles as they lived up to their Red Hat Society motto: Act silly!

Report outlines road tax

A current lack of funding for the city’s Major Thoroughfare Plan could mean an increase in the capital improvement sales tax as well as the application of an excise tax on future homes built along the city’s edge. That was the preliminary recommendation of a team of consultants hired by the city during the summer to develop the city’s transportation financing strategy.

In a Tuesday evening presentation to a 16-member citizens’ advisory committee and three members of the public, the consulting team of Stinson Morrison Hecker, TranSystems Corporations and Development Strategies suggested that the city increase the capital improvement sales tax from a ¼ cent to a ½ cent. Such an increase, they said, would provide an extra $6.3 million for city-wide road improvements.

Forum to discuss black image

A group of scholars and residents say a lack of positive black male role models is cause for concern.

“The young men in our community need to see African-American men making positive choices,” said the Rev. James Kimbro, pastor for Fifth Street Christian Church and residential clinical manager of the Phoenix Program.

Veterans Day essays recognized

Sally Fritsche, a West Junior High eighth-grader, got a surprise in the mail earlier this month. It was a letter telling Fritsche that she was a winner in the Truman Veterans Hospital Veterans Day essay contest.

“(Veterans) sacrificed a lot, and I don’t think we recognize them very much,” said Fritsche, the first-place winner in her division. “On Veterans Day, you should thank them and ask them to tell their stories. No one really pays attention. They just see it as another national holiday.”

Former state judge speaks out against death penalty

Saying it is possible that innocent people have been executed, a former state Supreme Court judge said Wednesday night that a moratorium should be placed on the death penalty in Missouri.

Charles Blackmar, a judge on the Missouri Supreme Court from 1982 to 1992 and the Court’s chief justice from 1989 to 1991, spoke to a group of 60 people at Calvary Episcopal Church in Columbia.