Resident escapes, but candle fire consumes condo

A woman narrowly escaped a fire that destroyed her home and displaced five other condominium residents Monday morning.

At 1:12 a.m. Monday, the Columbia Fire Department arrived at the fire at Park De Ville Condominiums, 2307 Park De Ville Place, in west Columbia, Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said.

Many happy returns

Traditionally, the day after Christmas is a day of returns and exchanges, but many area shoppers also hit the stores Sunday ready to take advantage of the post-holiday sales.

For Nikki Allen, 27, the first stop was J.C. Penney at Columbia Mall. By 12:30 p.m., Allen, who had traveled from Macon, already had found several clothing bargains for herself and her 4-year-old son. She also planned to hunt for further deals throughout the mall.

Travel a luxury for foreign students

Mohammed Khalilia is from the West Bank in the Middle East. The MU computer science major hasn’t been home in 3½ years.

Although he’s Muslim, Khalilia says the Christmas season is the loneliest time of year for him because many of his friends are home visiting family.

Adventure video games are eclipsed

Last spring, when LucasArts pulled the plug on its first planned graphic adventure computer game in four years, Sam and Max 2, the company wasn’t just canceling an anticipated title. It was burying a genre.

Graphic adventures are video games in which players encounter virtual situations and characters and solve puzzles as part of an over-arching narrative. These games reward wit and creative thinking above reflex and speed, skills required by most of today’s top video game buyers.

Christmas Eve brings three fires

A wood-burning stove sparked a fire that led to explosions in a shed and caused an estimated $65,000 in damage to an outbuilding and a trailer home at 9360 Smith Hatchery Road on Christmas Eve.

The Boone County Fire Protection District sent 25 firefighters and eight trucks to the blaze, which was reported at 7:45 p.m. Friday. Volunteers, with help from the Southern Boone County Fire District, quickly controlled the fire, according to a fire district news release.

Keeping my smile is harder each year

I gave up on making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. Since then, all I’ve resolved is to maintain the positive attributes of my status quo (whatever they happen to be at the time). The one promise I’ve made to myself since I attained adulthood is to keep my sense of humor. And I’ve found that that gets harder and harder to do each time the calendar runs out of days.

This year is no exception. In fact, it’s an even greater challenge to keep on smiling. That’s because the list of things that threaten my resolve has grown even longer due to the most disheartening presidential campaign I’ve ever known.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus

During the past few years, Nelson and Patricia Richter have become accustomed to the whispers.

It happens in grocery store aisles, at restaurants and just about everywhere in between. Children usually notice first, but adults soon catch on.

Jobless rate in Missouri rises to 5.8%

Joe Speichinger isn’t worried about crowded parking lots or long lines at airport security this holiday season. He just wants

to eat.

Webcam unites soldier with family for Christmas Day

With leaves rustling in the wind, Catherine Guilford hurries across the back lawn, across the small metal bridge crossing the creek, through a clearing and into her beloved woods. She holds a phone to her ear, listening as her husband’s voice help her re-create the memory of their walks together.

“Walk me through the woods,” he tells her. “Have you reached our tree yet?”

Monks peddle prize-winning fruitcake

Some people believe the only uses for fruitcake are those that deal with feeding birds or with weighing something down.

Others think like Johnny Carson, who once joked: “The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”

Raking in the pot

People can watch practically anyone gamble on TV, from professional poker players to celebrities to Hollywood film stars. In the last week there were 39 poker shows on nine TV stations, according to

Columbia, like other parts of the country, has apparently succumbed to the poker craze.

Children’s agencies unite to seek funds

Fifty children’s advocacy groups and the state Department of Social Services have joined in an effort to increase financial support for some of Missouri’s neediest citizens.

The state Department of Social Services has teamed with the Missouri Coalition of Children’s Agencies to determine how much money is needed to keep these programs running and to develop innovative ways of getting that money.

Slaying suspect being moved to Missouri custody

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A woman accused of killing an expectant mother and cutting the baby from her womb waived her right to a preliminary hearing in Kansas on Thursday and is being moved to federal custody in Missouri.

Federal prosecutors in Missouri charged Lisa Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, Kan., with kidnapping resulting in death. She is accused of strangling 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant, in her Skidmore, Mo., home on Dec. 16, then cutting her baby from her womb.

Brightening our hearts

Each year between Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent, Bob and Sharon Emery begin the laborious process of decorating their yard, which can be seen from blocks away. The strands of lights and glowing displays announce the coming of Christmas.

Although the couple placed first in this year’s Holiday Lighting Contest, sponsored by the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and Westlake Ace Hardware, their true reward, as Sharon said, is the pleasure of seeing so many people enjoy the decorations.

Bill would cut summer school funds

An early proposal in the Missouri General Assembly would reduce state funding to school districts that hire outside, for-profit agencies to organize summer school programs.

That means Columbia Public Schools could lose money if the bill passes because the district contracts with Newton Learning Program to run summer schools.

Crowds at arena smallest in years

Mizzou Arena is bigger, newer and fancier than the Hearnes Center but still attracts smaller crowds.

Although the $75 million arena was heralded during its construction as a fresh start for an embattled men’s basketball program, turnout so far this season has been lower than any of the past five seasons played at the Hearnes Center. Average per-game attendance for the first 10 men’s basketball games of the 2003-04 season was 11,058. This year, it’s down to 8,827, the lowest average in six years.

Research groups join to fend off stem-cell ban

The leaders of four Missouri research institutions, including the University of Missouri system, are asking legislators to reject bills that would criminalize stem-cell research.

They said a ban on nuclear transfer — one type of stem-cell research — would undermine efforts to create economic growth based on life sciences, as well as limit Missourians’ access to first-rate health care.

State Farm’s consolidation works for one mobile family

Chris Coon’s family has moved eight times in the last 13 years, enough to deter most people from ever moving again. Yet, when the State Farm auto claims manager and his clan were offered a chance last summer to relocate to Columbia, they jumped all over it.

“Out of the offices in the central zone I don’t think State Farm could have picked a more family-oriented and culturally diverse and interesting place than Columbia,” Chris Coon said. “There is just something about this town.”

Go get ’em

Glenn Garrett walks down a moonlit path through the woods of Three Creeks Conservation Area, calming his dogs as he searches for the best spot to set them loose.

Once unleashed, the two redbone coonhounds bound into the darkness. Storm, 6, is a veteran. Her younger counterpart, Snuff, is also female and just 18 months old. For Snuff, this will be only her second season hunting raccoon.

City lists more roads for improvements

Additional proposals for road improvements in Columbia will be submitted to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for approval when it meets on Jan. 14, said Jay Bestgen, planning engineer for District 5.

The proposals include work on Missouri 740, 163 and 763 and the I-70 Business Loop.