Investigation of Tuesday’s plane crash begins

ST. LOUIS — Federal investigators Wednesday began trying to unravel why a small corporate jet crashed on a Missouri River island, killing the company’s top executive and an employee.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the twin-engine Hansa 320 — registered to an air charter company that lost two planes in five hours last year — went down on Howell Island west of St. Louis about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, shortly after leaving Spirit of St. Louis Airport in suburban Chesterfield.

Senator: Seat belt law likely to pass

JEFFERSON CITY — A key senator predicted Tuesday that legislators will pass a law next session giving law enforcement officers increased authority to ticket people for not wearing vehicle seat belts.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jon Dolan said a primary seat belt law is important for safety and could bring the state millions of dollars in federal incentive money.

Blood often an overlooked military need

During a time of war, weapons, ammunition and food aren’t the only necessities for American military forces. One of the most overlooked needs is blood.

Ten U.S. Army reservists from the Columbia-based 7227th Medical Detachment will be spending the next year at Fort Hood, Texas, taking blood from newly enlisted soldiers.

Bells will be ringing

Do-it-yourselfers and hobbyists appear to be better givers than discount shoppers, judging by the Salvation Army’s tally of donations from the first busy shopping weekend of the year.

The charity reported that its signature red kettles were filled with more than $6,500 in donations over the busy post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend, up roughly $200 from the same period last year.

Committee wary of rushed road taxes

The Transportation Finance Advisory Committee said Tuesday its study of road improvements is being rushed, and as a result all the options are not being fully considered. The study examines how Columbia should fund more than $480 million in road improvements through 2030.

Committee member Bob Pugh couldn’t be at the meeting, but a letter he wrote was distributed to the other attendees and set the tone for the meeting.

Saying Goodbye to Gasper’s

Tears couldn’t stop manager Linda Hudson’s hand from turning the lock.

 Gasper’s, the 39-year-old Kingdom City truck stop, closed its doors for the final time Tuesday, ending the legacy of a restaurant that’s known by truck drivers from coast to coast.

Nixon targets teenage smoking

Missouri lawmakers should use new settlement money the state receives from about 40 small tobacco companies for efforts to reduce smoking among young people, state Attorney General Jay Nixon said Tuesday.

Nixon said Missouri’s smoking rate is the nation’s third-highest, with more tobacco-using high school students — 30.3 percent — than adults smoking statewide, or 26.6 percent.

John won’t seek third council term

Citing time constraints and a promise made in 2002, Fifth Ward Councilman John John said he will not seek re-election to a third term.

John’s second term on the Columbia City Council expires in April, as does the second term of First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton. Both seats will be up for election April 5. Crayton could not be reached for comment on her plans.

Man dies in car crash after causing multiple accidents

Police are continuing to investigate a series of accidents caused by a Columbia man who died Friday night after a police chase, according to a press release from the Jefferson City Police Department.

The incident started when David Ward, 38, left the Jefferson City Wal-Mart on Missouri Boulevard and struck a vehicle driven by Daryl Woodruff, 27, of Jefferson City. Ward left the scene of the accident and was pursued by Woodruff, who notified Jefferson City police, according to the release.

Federal bill may boost Columbia bus system

A financial boost from the federal government might allow the city to buy a trolley bus for downtown and to improve other aspects of its bus service, city officials said Tuesday.

Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., said Tuesday the Omnibus Appropriations Bill approved by Congress has earmarked $842,945 for the city’s transit system. If the bill is signed into law by President Bush, the grant would require a 20 percent match from the city.

Study circle examines aftermath of election

Nearly a month after a bitter presidential election, about 20 Columbia residents convened a study circle Tuesday at the Columbia Public Library to discuss political labeling and reconciliation in the election’s aftermath.

The study circle, which lasted three hours, featured frank exchanges on personal convictions, but participants reported leaving the session with greater feelings of optimism and understanding.

Dentistry in motion

Chris Graham, 24, arrives with his mother, Sandra Graham, for a visit to the dentist’s office.

He stands quietly, nonchalantly, like he has been here before. He sits in the waiting “room” in his usual seat by the steering wheel — no apparent signs of nervousness or displeasure.

Group protests postal woes

A long line wasn’t all that greeted customers at the downtown post office at lunchtime Monday. For the fourth time, representatives of Grass Roots Organizing were in front of the Walnut Street building collecting signatures for a petition demanding a better post office.

It wasn’t a hard sell. Scores of customers, some carrying what appeared to be holiday packages, reached eagerly for the petition asking for more staff and funding to remodel the 38-year-old facility.

AIDS network focuses on women

The face of AIDS isn’t what it used to be.

Fifteen years ago, most new HIV and AIDS cases were reported by men.

Tomato buyers are feeling the squeeze

Burgers, sandwiches and salads are missing them, and grocery store customers are paying three times the normal price for them.

The sign posted at Wendy’s on Bernadette Drive says it all: “Tomatoes by request only.”

Hunter, Vander Kooi named All-Big 12

Missouri volleyball players Lindsey Hunter and Jessica Vander Kooi were named to the All-Big 12 Conference Team and teammate Shen Danru earned honorable mention.

Hunter, a junior who was an All-Conference selection a year ago, leads the Big 12 in assists per game (14.36) and is ranked fourth in the nation in the same category.

Court debates medical pot use

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court questioned whether state medical-marijuana laws might be abused by people who aren’t really sick as it debated on Monday whether the federal government can prosecute patients who smoke pot on doctors’ orders.

Watching the argument was Angel Raich, an Oakland, Calif., mother of two who said she tried dozens of prescription medicines to ease the pain of a brain tumor and other illnesses before she turned to marijuana. She and another ill woman, Diane Monson, filed a lawsuit to protect their access to the drug after federal agents confiscated marijuana plants from Monson’s yard.

Hindman: No need to rush vote on tax

Columbia officials are worried they’re running out of time to place initiatives on the April 5 ballot that, if approved, would increase taxes to pay for millions of dollars in road work.

A group of developers, government officials and other community leaders, known as the Transportation Finance Committee, are tasked with recommending ways the city could raise $10 million a year in new taxes for the next 25 years to pay for road work.

Columbia schools given top honor

High marks for MAP scores, ACT scores and attendance helped the Columbia Public School District earn its place on a list of 158 districts in the state that earned the Distinction in Performance honor.

The district was recognized by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Monday for its efforts to improve academic achievement among its students.

Money talks if you choose to listen

We’ve heard the saying that the golden rule means that he who has the gold rules. Lots of us, who have fought against accepting this idea for most of our lives, have finally had to cave in. It’s true; money talks.

But now that we have come to the understanding that things really are that way, we need to define how this philosophy works in our lives by examining what money can and cannot buy.