GOP looks for new senate candidate

Local Republicans have until Tuesday to find a new candidate for the Missouri Senate, after Kat Cunningham announced that she is dropping out of the 19th District Senate race.

Cunningham said that unforeseen circumstances have forced her to devote her time to running her business, Moresource. The Columbia company handles administrative services for other businesses and was founded by Cunningham in 1994.

New Democrat in House race

Former MU political science professor Greg Casey will officially announce his candidacy for state representative at 10:30 a.m. today at Casey and Co., 1 E. Broadway.

Casey is running as a Democrat for the 24th District seat of the Missouri House of Representatives, now held by Chuck Graham. Graham, a Democrat, will lose the seat because of term limits and is running for state senator.

Cleanup Columbia asks for volunteers

The city is seeking more volunteers to register for the eighth annual Cleanup Columbia event before the April 2 deadline. Almost 900 people have already volunteered to pick up trash along the city’s streets and parks for the April 10 event.

Each participant will receive a T-shirt or water bottle and will be invited to a post-cleanup barbecue at Twin Lakes Recreation Area. To register, call the Office of Volunteer Services at 874-7499 or visit

Dispatches from the War on Fat

In case you haven’t noticed, we Americans are fat.

Really fat. In fact, earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that overeating is on pace to become the No. 1 cause of avoidable deaths in the United States next year, knocking tobacco use out of the top spot.

Pledge: A nation divisible after all

WASHINGTON — Under the stony gazes of Moses and Muhammad, the Supreme Court opened its Wednesday session as any other. The spectators — many of whom had waited in long lines to attend the historic arguments — rose to their feet as the justices filed into the pillared chamber and a marshal proclaimed the court’s traditional rhetoric: “God save the United States and this honorable court.”

In a room built to immortalize many of history’s great thinkers — a number of them from religious traditions — the court began to weigh the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the pledge millions of school children recite daily.

Supreme Court rules against city

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in an 8-to-1 decision that Missouri had the right to restrict the ability of municipalities such as Columbia and other political subdivisions to sell telecommunications services.

“We lost,” said Bill Johnson, deputy director of the Missouri Municipal League, which represented the cities of Columbia, Springfield and Sikeston in the case.

Brooks’ divide with NAACP grows

As the first mayoral candidate to give remarks at a forum Wednesday night at Paquin Tower, Arch Brooks opened the event by reminding the audience of his perspective of Columbia as the only black candidate.

“I was around here before we integrated the Columbia Public School District,” he said.

Starting off right

Still sleepy from her afternoon nap, the 3-year-old widens her big blue eyes and jumps from her chair with a smile: Her tutor is waving from across the room.

Every Wednesday afternoon, nine preschoolers at Hand-in-Hand Learning Center on Bearfield Road welcome Jumpstart volunteers as if they were older siblings, the children eager to start playing — and learning.

Holden denounces Medicaid cuts

KANSAS CITY — Republicans’ Proposed cuts to the state’s Medicaid program are “penny-wise and pound-foolish,” Gov. Bob Holden told a crowded room of supporters Wednesday.

Billed by the Democratic governor as a hearing on the proposed cuts, the event drew health care providers, parents and community activists, who all testified against the legislation.

Recycling — a matter of convenience

City officials said the bright blue bins located at 33 Columbia convenience stores have done a ton of good to help recycling in the city. Thirteen tons to be exact.

Eleven months into Columbia’s convenience store-based recycling program, 13 tons of soda bottles and cans have been recycled via the 108 bins, according to Angela Gehlert, Columbia’s waste minimization coordinator. Gehlert said because the program has been so successful, it will be expanded during the next year.

Mayoral candidates debate

How to deal with Columbia as a growing city, both in size and population, was the focal point of a town hall meeting featuring Mayor Darwin Hindman and mayoral candidates Arch Brooks and John Clark on Tuesday afternoon.

A small crowd gathered at the Cherry Street Artisan coffee shop, 111 South Ninth St., for the meeting. KFRU/1400 AM broadcast it live, and it was moderated by the station’s talk show hosts Chris Kellogg and David Lile.

County doles project money

While Columbia again received the biggest share of revenue-sharing money from the county’s half-cent sales tax for roads this year, the program is even more important to the county’s smaller towns, Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller said.

The Boone County Commission distributed the money earlier this month, handing out $683,760 of the $2.88 million requested. Columbia received $292,500, or about 43 percent of the total, for a future westward extension of Chapel Hill Road that will cost an estimated $2.5 million.

Home-grown harmony

Instead of perusing the produce section of the grocery store to select summer and fall vegetables, Sandra Abell and her son often head to the fields. Their destination: Terra Bella Farm in Auxvasse, owned by DeLisa Lewis and Holly Roberson.

“We enjoy visiting the farm and meeting the farmers,” said Abell, who attends special events at Terra Bella with her son. “The production of food is not an abstraction for him.”

Six hospitalized after I-70 crash

Six people were hospitalized Tuesday morning after a five-car accident on Interstate 70.

The accident occurred at about 11 a.m. on I-70 westbound at Hominy Branch Creek, about two miles east of the U.S. 63 interchange, and it closed I-70 westbound for more than an hour.

Highway patrol lacks troopers

ST. JOSEPH — A lack of troopers is forcing Missouri State Highway Patrol offices across the state to use high-ranking officers on patrol duty and disband some special operations teams.

The patrol blames the shortage on the lagging economy, relatively low pay for troopers, a lack of recruits and losing some troopers to military duty.

AFL-CIO kicks off bus tour for jobless

The “Show Us the Jobs” cross-country bus tour begins today with a rally to highlight the job crisis in America. The tour is sponsored by the AFL-CIO and Working America, an affiliate.

Among the concerns to be addressed by the AFL-CIO are health care for the unemployed, greater personal hardship as a result of poverty and the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries.

Firefighters laud entry system

An emergency entry system is being praised for its role in allowing firefighters to extinguish a three-alarm fire at the USDA Research Center on the MU campus late Monday.

Fire officials are crediting the system with helping them contain the fire on South Providence Road, which prevented further damage to the center and surrounding buildings.

Diesel price could drive up costs

For drivers, rising gas prices can be a financial pain, but jumps in prices at the pump could hurt consumers in more ways than one.

If oil prices continue to stay at about $38 a barrel, diesel prices will remain high, experts say. In response, shipping and transportation companies are passing the additional cost on to consumers, according to Jake Bournazian, the economist for the Energy Information Administration, a branch of the Department of Energy.

Rules of the road

On a spring-like afternoon in February, Columbia police officer Lyn Woolford sits in a patrol car off Business Loop 70, watching traffic stream out of the Hickman High School parking lot.

A woman picking up her daughter in a white station wagon pulls into the street and, directly in front of a sign that reads “No U-Turn,” makes a U-turn. Woolford pulls out behind the woman and waits for her to make a left onto Providence Road before firing up his lights. After running the woman’s driver license through a computerized database using a laptop mounted on the patrol car’s dashboard, Woolford issues a citation for the violation.

Rec fee delayed for one semester

Matt Sokoloff found an error in MU fees that will save students more than $2.1 million.

In 2001, students voted to implement a $75-per-semester fee that would pay to update the campus recreational facilities to include more fitness and aquatic space, locker rooms and air conditioning. The plan is to combine Brewer Fieldhouse, the current student recreational center, with Rothwell Gymnasium.