Keeping Up Appearances

Drive through one trailer park in Boone County and you’ll see havoc. You’ll see discarded washing machines, cars with grass growing up around the tires, makeshift sheds spilling over with junk. You’ll see trailers that look like they’re falling apart and residents sitting on sunken decks eyeing unfamiliar cars suspiciously. You wouldn’t want to drive through at night because there are no lights to illuminate the nasty potholes waiting to ruin your car’s suspension.

But drive through another park, perhaps just down the street, and you’ll see quite a different scene. Cruising down a smooth road, you’ll see look-alike trailers forming neat rows and featuring small, landscaped yards, grills on the decks and maybe even driveways.

Student leaves a wealth of memories

Jesse James Valencia was the kind of person who wrote letters to the editor.

Everywhere he went, the 23-year-old MU student made contact with local publications — getting involved, speaking up, letting people know what he thought. In a letter he wrote to the Missourian last May, Mr. Valencia introduced the piece by saying, “My grandma is always so proud when I write editorials for newspapers, ha ha.”

Teacher pay raise to hinge on vote

Next year, teachers in the Columbia Public School District could receive their largest pay raise in more than a decade.

With the help of unanticipated funding from the state, the teachers can expect the first salary increase of more than $1,000 since 1991 if the 2004-05 school year budget is approved. In addition to the estimated

Democrats’ spotlight on Holden puts McCaskill in the shadows

As Missouri Democrats unite behind one candidate for president, they have yet to choose their candidate for governor: State Auditor Claire McCaskill, incumbent Gov. Bob Holden or Jim LePage.

McCaskill, however, said running for the Democratic nomination has been difficult because the Missouri Democratic Party is being used to promote Holden exclusively.

Columbia reservist remembered

Columbia’s first casualty in the war in Iraq was a vivacious Puerto Rican native and MU physics student whose dreams were cut short by a mortar blast.

Sgt. Melvin Yamil Mora, who was killed Sunday at Camp Cooke in Taji, Iraq, is being remembered by friends and family as a good son and a hardworking student who hoped to combine his interests in science and television.

Kids track history

Re-enactors aren’t the only ones following the Lewis and Clark trail this summer. The Daniel Boone Regional Library’s summer reading program for children is called Discover New Trails @ Your Library.

The themed journey celebrates the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark’s epic westward trek with story times, book lists, music programs and other activities.

Reagan’s Fulton connections: suit and speeches

The black-and-khaki wool tweed suit is a shell of the impression left by Ronald Reagan on Callaway County.

The three-piece suit that Reagan wore during the filming of the movie “King’s Row” is on display at the Heart of Missouri Tourism Center at the Kingdom City exit on I-70.

Fulton builds on yesteryear

FULTON — A hundred years ago it was Montgomery-Bell Dry Goods. In September, it will become a coffee and wine bar in downtown Fulton. The layers upon layers of carpet and vinyl tile will be gone, and the original wood floors and pressed-tin ceiling will be preserved.

“Before I can ask other owners to fix up their buildings, I figured I should do so myself,” owner Garry Vaught said.

Red Cross seeks help of blood donors

The onset of summer means road trips, boating, water-skiing and an alarmingly low supply of available blood.

The American Red Cross and the Community Blood Center are asking for an increase in donors for the coming summer months.

Missouri Employers Mutual plans to lay off 20 in Columbia

Missouri’s largest provider of workers’ compensation announced Tuesday that it will lay off 35 employees.

Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance of Columbia announced the layoffs as part of a reorganization plan that will consolidate certain departments and create new ones, as well as improving software and technology for employees.

Fondue Soiree

Just as in fashion, culinary trends come and go. Hanging around since the 1970s is the fondue trend. This fun, hands-on food was all the rage in those days, often the centerpiece at dinner parties. Throwing a fondue party today is still a hip way to gather with friends for a casual dinner party.

Tina Windett has been having fondue parties for about 30 years, ever since the craze began. She is carrying on the tradition from when her mother used to make chocolate, cheese and steak fondue. She has her parties around the holidays as a simple way to get the family together.

Burgers, fries and a wait?

The original fast-food restaurants, known for quick service with a smile, appear to be at a crossroads. Forced to expand their menus to keep up with competition and consumer demands, the places that once offered nothing more than burgers, fries and Cokes are struggling to keep their food fast.

To solve the problem, many fast-food chains have set goals for speed of service. For example, Wendy’s promises food in roughly 95 seconds, inside or from the drive-thru window, while Burger King and Hardee’s allow three minutes or more to complete the order.

Council OKs pharmacy on Providence

When Kilgore’s Medical Pharmacy opens its new location on Providence Road, Kevin Brown won’t have to spend seven minutes trying to get out of his car and to the door — he’ll just use the drive-through.

The Columbia City Council unanimously approved the development of the pharmacy with a drive-through entrance, which will end the “ordeal” of picking up prescriptions for customers and wheelchair users like Brown.

Not just a home on the go

What it’s called depends on who’s talking.

If you talk to a longtime resident, she’ll call it a trailer court. But if you ask a mobile home salesman, he’ll wax on about manufactured home communities.

Law gives tenants more time to move

The term “mobile home” is a bit of a misnomer. Hardly ready to be on the go, a mobile home actually takes months of preparation and planning to move.

This was the challenge facing many mobile home owners in the state, who used to get only 60 days of notice when the owners of their trailer parks decided to close.

Neighbor heard struggle

When Ryan Kepner heard dull thuds and muffled moans coming from the apartment next door, he shouted at his neighbor to pipe down. It was about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, and he wanted some peace and quiet.

“The walls are pretty thick,” Kepner said, “but they sure weren’t on Saturday morning.”

Columbia reservist is killed in Iraq

A Columbia resident died Sunday in Iraq after his camp came under a mortar attack.

Sgt. Melvin Yamil Mora was killed in action in Taji, Iraq, when he was struck by shrapnel from an attack on his camp. The attack occurred at Camp Cooke, located on the Al Taji air base, a former Iraqi air force facility north of Baghdad. Mora was 27.

An academic answer for sports scandal

A coalition of 200 past or present university personnel from schools across the country, including a member in Columbia, is proposing a plan for reform in intercollegiate athletics.

The Drake Group plan aims to change the relationship between academic institutions and their athletic departments.

New transit routes bustling

Columbia resident Shantel Scott gives a favorable rating to the Columbia Transit System’s modified bus routes. While waiting for the bus at Wabash Station on Monday afternoon, Scott said the new bus stops are closer to her home, her wait for the bus seems shorter and the buses now travel to two movie theaters in the city.

“It’s been better,” she said. “They run by every 20 minutes or so, unlike before when they took 40 minutes to an hour.”

Holden OKs Sunshine Law update

In an outdoor ceremony at the MU School of Journalism on Monday, Gov. Bob Holden signed into law a revision of the 1973 Sunshine Law that’s intended to bring it up to speed with modern technology.

Senate Bill 1020 was the first of three bills Holden signed. He said the Journalism School was a fitting place to expand the right to public information. The bill, he said, “continues our state’s long tradition of open and accessible government to the public while updating our sunshine laws to more accurately reflect changing technology.”