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Local Democrats set up headquarters

One morning in early June, a truck driver parked his rig in the middle of Walnut Street. While traffic backed up behind the truck, the driver ran into Columbia’s Democratic headquarters and requested two John Kerry bumper stickers.

Providing bumper stickers, yard signs and general information about the Democratic candidates are some of the functions of the headquarters, said Bill Clark, a volunteer at the Boone County Democratic Central Committee office in Columbia.

Shoppers face inconsistent sales tax breaks

JEFFERSON CITY — Shoppers looking for back-to-school bargains could save more in some parts of Missouri than others due to the patchwork application of a sales tax break next month.

Under a one-time state law, Missouri will waive its sales tax Aug. 13-15 for school-related items such as clothes, backpacks and computers. But cities, counties and other tax districts can choose to charge their local sales taxes anyway. And many will be doing so.

County awards service funds

After one amendment to increase funding possibilities for Centro Latino, the Boone County Community Services Advisory Commission approved its 2005 funding recommendations Tuesday night. Five commissioners favored the plan, two opposed and one abstained.

The decision came after a public hearing held by the commission about its recommendations for social service funding. More than $21,000 in new money was available to social service agencies this year, for a total of $843,350. Thirty-eight agencies made requests totaling $988,976. Therefore, some commission recommendations were for significantly less money than what agencies had requested.

Building locations checked by EPA

Inspectors from the Environmental Protection Agency last week scrutinized eight area construction sites, including the Bass Pro Shops on Vandiver Drive.

Inspectors Lorenzo Sena and Margie St. Germain visited the sites to ensure developers are sticking to federal standards for storm water management.

Future of median on Range Line debated

Following the Missouri Department of Transportation’s decision to postpone approving plans for construction on Range Line Street at the request of property owners, the North Columbia League adopted its own formal plan Tuesday to present to MoDOT.

The North Columbia League, an association of business and property owners with frontage along Range Line, was initially formed to lobby the government to accelerate expansion and improvement of Range Line. Now that those improvements are on the horizon, the league wants to ensure the work has a positive impact on the area, league Chairman Cris Burnam said.

Device eases seizure severity

Twenty-year-old epileptic Michelle Botteron of California, Mo., used to have 20 to 30 seizures a day. The number of seizures was reduced to less than half following a one-hour outpatient surgery.

With two minor incisions, Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy was attached to a wire that is connected to the vagus nerve in the left side of the neck. VNS therapy works through a small pacemaker-like device that is implanted under a muscle in the chest, said Dr. Nitin Patel, pediatric neurologist at University Hospital. VNS therapy helps to reduce the strength and the number of seizures a patient would normally experience.

Columbia College crosses borders

Before Columbia College began offering classes in January, the City Colleges of Chicago had a campus in Guantanamo Bay, offering associate degrees. The Navy, however, wanted an institution that could offer both associate and bachelor’s degree programs on the base, so last July Navy officials asked Columbia College if the college would consider coming to the island. Columbia College officials didn’t hesitate.

Microchips make finding pets easier

Columbia pet owners are taking advantage of microchip technology, invented by AVID Microchip Identification Systems, which reunites one pet with its owner every 72 seconds nationwide. The company’s PETtrac pet recovery network receives 4,000 to 6,000 calls per week, AVID spokesman Loran Hickton said.

Family of shooting victim sues security company

Some of the victim’s families from the July 1, 2003, shooting at the Modine Manufacturing Co. are seeking restitution.

According to court documents, plaintiffs Brandy Jackson and Michael Wilson, the children of Terry Wilson, are suing Burns Security, now called Securitas, for negligence in failing to provide proper security, which resulted in the wrongful death of their father. The trial is set for Oct. 17, 2005.

Downtown tour helps others eat

One of the greatest frustrations of getting together with a group of friends for a meal is picking a place to eat. Consensus is hard to reach when the members of the group each crave something different.

The Central Columbia Association is offering a temporary solution. On Thursday night, the organization is putting on its third annual “Dinner in the District,” where food enthusiasts will be able to sample menus from 16 of the 70 restaurants and bars in downtown Columbia.

On the big screen

Phyllis Ward came to the Missouri Theatre Monday night with a Popsicle to help fend off the sweltering heat. She had one goal in mind when she arrived two hours early for the screening of “Killer Diller.” Ward wanted to see herself on the big screen.

“When we were filming, the director said she was impressed with the way I rolled my eyes,” Ward said as she waited outside for the doors to open. “So I’m really excited; my sons and I are definitely hoping to catch a glimpse.”

City clerk certifies marijuana initiatives

Two initiatives to reduce punishments for misdemeanor marijuana possession took another step toward becoming law last week while a third initiative dealing with the purchase of “green” energy took a step back.

The two marijuana initiatives were certified by City Clerk Sheela Amin, but the energy initiative was 138 signatures short. However, it still has a chance to go before the Columbia City Council. Amin said petitioners had 10 days from the time they were informed of the shortage to collect the needed amount of signatures. The deadline is Sunday.

Users of 911 find language to be a hurdle

A Hispanic caller phoned 911 to report a fire at an apartment complex on Thursday, but what emergency personnel on the other end heard were strings of confusing, broken English. They knew the location of the caller but could not determine whether he had a police or fire emergency. Both departments were sent to the scene, said Donna Hargis, operations coordinator for joint communications.

When firefighters arrived they saw heavy smoke coming from the front window of the four-plex. However, they were able to determine that everyone in the building had escaped. Conversation with the occupants of the four-plex proved to be difficult, Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said.

Heating up Missouri

ST. LOUIS — A wave of steamy weather descending on Missouri has prompted forecasters to issue a heat advisory through today from the St. Louis area west to Columbia.

Mid-Missourians felt the sultry heat after a new daily rainfall record for Monday of 1.69 inches in Columbia, said Arno Perlow with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

Rain destroys gate guarding bats

A heavy rainstorm in March caused extensive damage to the $50,000 gate erected at an entrance to Boone Cave to protect two endangered species of bats.

“It was one of those good old heavy Missouri rains,” said Tim James, a Missouri Department of Conservation biologist. “The damage was caused by a combination of the way the water and the debris were coming through the slots in the gate.”

Sheriff hopefuls share ideas, frustrations

Angela Ayers stood in the gathering hall of St. Luke United Methodist Church Monday night, watching men spar for her boss’s job.

“I just wanted to see what each one of them had to say; what their vision for the department is,” said Ayers, administrative assistant to Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm.

Carnahan endorses Holden in election ad

JEFFERSON CITY— Former Sen. Jean Carnahan is now appearing in a television ad supporting Gov. Bob Holden, lending one of the most venerated names in state Democratic politics to his re-election effort.

Carnahan invokes the legacy of her late husband, Gov. Mel Carnahan, while declaring in the TV ad that Republican state lawmakers have tried to “dismantle the important gains for children and families” that her husband supported.

Leslie gets probation for killing husband

An 83-year-old woman was sentenced Monday to five years’ supervised probation for fatally shooting her husband of 53 years in November.

Marjorie Leslie appeared in court for sentencing after pleading guilty in May to voluntary manslaughter. Phil Leslie, Marjorie’s son, took the stand to testify on his mother’s behalf, saying it was the “sincere belief and hope of my entire family” that his mother should be granted probation. He said his father would have wanted probation for his mother.

Reaching out to new veterans

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s efforts at informing veterans about their benefits have improved, but more work must be done to reach new veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gov. Bob Holden told a task force working on the issue Monday.

Holden also urged the group to focus on getting benefits to urban and minority veterans. The state budget includes $50,000 more for outreach this year, including a new position of minority veterans benefits coordinator, he said.

Hearing to address social services funds

The Boone County Community Services Advisory Commission will hold a public hearing today on its preliminary recommendations for how the Columbia City Council should distribute its money for social services.

The commission has recommended $843,350 be distributed to local agencies during fiscal 2005. The recommendation reflects a $21,550 increase over fiscal 2004.

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