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FBI continues search for data

A day after FBI agents raided the office of the Islamic American Relief Agency, a local nonprofit organization with alleged links to terrorism, authorities searched three storage lockers in Columbia Thursday as part of what authorities described as a long-term, ongoing investigation.

Since Wednesday, two houses — one in Columbia and another in Connecticut — have been searched, along with at least one office and three storage units, in what appears to be a sweep of individuals and organizations linked to the Khartoum, Sudan-based Islamic African Relief Agency. The organization’s U.S. headquarters is the Islamic American Relief Agency in Columbia.

Stores to display pets for adoption

ST. LOUIS — The Humane Society of Missouri hopes to increase animal adoption by 20 percent under a new arrangement that will allow it to showcase homeless pets in storefronts at two area shopping centers.

The Humane Society, the state’s largest animal shelter, said Thursday it is taking over management and financial responsibility for two pet-adoption stores known as Adopt-A-Stray, which were previously run by a group that goes by the same name.

Muslims fear raid will mean scrutiny

Thursday night would have been one of celebration for Muslims. Ramadan — the holiest month of the Islamic year — begins today, and the night before is supposed to be marked by prayer and remembrance. For members of Columbia’s Muslim community, however, a somber note has darkened the occasion.

“Tonight, we would be celebrating,” said Khenissi Ali. “Instead, we’re scared.”

Pressure on Public Works

Two months after being reprimanded by the Boone County Commission, Public Works director David Mink is still trying to patch up his department.

Significant bumps in the road remain: Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin and county road workers question Mink’s leadership and want him fired, and Mink’s maintenance operations manager, Chip Estabrooks, is on the fence.

Commission split on Mink's work

Boone County commissioners strongly disagree about the extent of problems at the Public Works Department under David Mink and about potential remedies.

Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin believes that Mink provides the commission with incomplete and sometimes inaccurate information on roads projects and that information given to the public is even worse.

Sapp plans to develop 965 acres

Developer Billy Sapp formally filed paperwork with the city Planning and Development Department Tuesday for the voluntary annexation and zoning of 965 acres of land east of Columbia.

Sapp wants to develop two adjacent tracts into a golf course, commercial areas and more than 1,000 units of housing. If approved by the City Council, Sapp’s plan would be the largest annexation for development purposes in Columbia’s history, said interim Planning Director Bill Watkins.

Columbia kids are giving residents an education in pollution

Swirls of bright fall leaves swept around rambunctious children dashing door-to-door on Sexton Road on Wednesday afternoon. Between bouts of cartwheels and somersaults, the little volunteers canvassed the neighborhood with door hangers. Their message: Pollutants that flow into storm drains lead directly to streams.

Under Mona Menezes’ direction, children from The Intersection — an after-school program on Sexton — have handed out about 75 informational packets during the past three weeks. Packets included literature telling residents their closest storm drain flows directly into Flat Branch Creek. Everything from cigarette butts to fertilizer eventually ends up in local streams, said Menezes, program coordinator for the Community Storm Water Project.

Missouri to be honored at cathedral

The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., is half a country away from Missouri, but on Sunday, a worship service will be conducted there to celebrate the state.

The service is a part of the Washington National Cathedral’s Major State Day celebrations, begun in 1996. On the third Sunday of each month, an 11 a.m. service is held to honor a state, according to the cathedral’s Web site. States would be honored this way once every four years.

New face heats up 25th District race

Judy Baker, the Democratic candidate in the 25th District state representative race, is a political newcomer, while Bob Northup, her Republican opponent, has been involved in Columbia’s political scene for decades.

However, the first time the two went head-to-head in the race marked the 200th day in Baker’s campaign and only the fourth in Northup's. A twist in the race came when Republican candidate Joel Jeffries dropped out just two months before the Nov. 2 election to accept a job with the state Board of Probation and Parole. Northup volunteered to take his place, diving into the contest with only a few weeks to spread his name and his message.

Salmonella infection closes Equine Clinic

After diagnosing five horses with salmonella poisoning in the past four months, veterinarians at MU closed their Equine Clinic as a precaution in order to decontaminate the facility, officials said.

In a release, the MU News Bureau said that veterinarians will disinfect the entire hospital, located in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital on East Campus Drive, and will monitor the building for salmonella before reopening.

Education-minded candidates get nod

Political spin can make sorting out the issues difficult for voters — especially in this election, where the spin is acknowledged as much as the rhetoric. But five associations have tried to make it easier for constituents to decide on Nov. 2 by endorsing the candidates each deems best when it comes to education.

“You hear candidates talk all the time about ‘I’m for education’ and ‘I’m for education,’ and what we are designed to do is sift through all that information and help people find out who the best education candidates are,” said Gail Willis McCray, political action coordinator for the Missouri State Teachers Association.

Public administrator race centers on guidance

The dark-green cards Republican John Sullivan distributes in his campaign to unseat Democrat Connie Bell Hendren as Boone County public administrator feature a quote from Ronald Reagan.

“Whatever else in history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts,” it says. “My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.”

Feds raid Islamic relief agency

Federal agents seized cars, scores of boxes and 14 computers in a raid on the Islamic American Relief Agency near Providence and Broadway that began Wednesday afternoon and ended about six hours later. No arrests were made.

FBI Special Agent Jeff Lanza said the raid was part of a long-running, ongoing investigation of the agency.

Nixon sues city officials in Boonville

BOONVILLE — Attorney General Jay Nixon sued Boonville city officials Wednesday, saying they violated the state’s open meetings law.

The suit charges the Boonville City Council approved a salary offer for a city administrator at a Sept. 30 meeting, but that on Oct. 2, Boonville Mayor Danielle Blanck called council members for their approval to increase the offer.

Agency eyed by U.S. for 5 years

Since 1999, the Islamic American Relief Agency has been the object of U.S. government scrutiny. The group has consistently maintained that its activities are strictly related to its mission as a relief agency. According to a profile in GuideStar, a national database of nonprofit organizations, the relief agency — which changed its name from the Islamic African Relief Agency in 1997 — provides funds for relief and development in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the United States.

19th district state Senate: Veteran Graham faces newcomer Ditmore

Democrat Chuck Graham begins almost every conversation with a countdown to Election Day.

“Thirty-nine more days,” he said recently, with a trace of anxiety.

Voters list health care as top priority

Across age groups, communities and genders, the No. 1 issue surfacing among voters in the 19th District state Senate race is health care.

At the Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival last weekend, as kids lined up for face painting, patrons indulged in funnel cakes and apple pie and families searched for the perfect pumpkin, some mid-Missourians talked about the issues important to them in the Senate election.

Raids make Muslims wary of charitable giving

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) — As Muslims prepare for the holy month of Ramadan, a period in which they are supposed to donate to charity, many are finding themselves torn between their faith and their fear of being accused of terrorist ties.

Over the past three years, federal authorities have raided and shut down four Islamic charities, and many American Muslims say the crackdown has them worried that writing a donation check could bring FBI agents to their doors.

Fayette candidates square off in first debate since 2002

FAYETTE – Soon after he was introduced at a candidate forum in the basement of the Commercial Trust Co. building, state Rep. Wes Shoemyer leapt out of his chair and looked toward the back of the crowd.

“Can everyone hear me fine?” he asked.

Senate candidates clash in debate at MU

U.S. Senate candidates from four political parties converged on MU’s Jesse Hall on Tuesday to debate a range of domestic and foreign issues, including education, Missouri River regulation, health care and the war on terrorism.

Well-publicized contenders Kit Bond, the Republican incumbent, and Nancy Farmer, the Democratic challenger and current Missouri state treasurer, traded barbs. Libertarian nominee Kevin Tull and Constitution Party candidate Don Griffin repeatedly stated their desire to limit the power of the federal government.

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