Car buyers can snag big bargains this fall

Between now and the end of the year, car buyers might find the greatest deals not in dealer showrooms but in the parking lots outside. As automakers flood the market with 2004 models, car dealers are pushing hard to clear out their 2003 inventory.

Typically, customers can snag the best prices on new cars during year-end closeout sales, said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at, an independent, California-based Web site that provides advice to car consumers.

Stalled rural jail project back on track

A rural Missouri jail project, stalled by financial problems and fighting among Randolph County officials, edged back on track Monday as a citizens group dropped lawsuits challenging its construction and a local conglomerate pledged to buy the first $1 million of county construction bonds.

Citizens for Good Government filed papers informing Special Judge Robert Lee Campbell it had dropped its two lawsuits against the county, saying it didn’t want to delay the resumption of the jail’s construction. The parties had been scheduled to meet Tuesday to continue talks about a possible settlement, but Campbell postponed the meeting until next week.

Pierpont village pursued

Fear of being annexed by the city of Columbia prompted Pierpont residents to meet with county officials Monday night to discuss the possibility of becoming a village or a town.

More than 30 Pierpont residents attended the meeting, and almost half voted to continue discussing incorporation, which would prevent the city from annexing them. Only five voted against the measure.

Cunningham seeks state Senate seat

Local businesswoman Kat Cunningham said Monday that she will seek the Republican nomination for the 19th District state senate seat next year.

The owner of Moresource, a personnel administrative outsourcing company based in Columbia, Cunningham hopes her small-business background will boost her campaign.

Grant to promote city’s active ‘Way of Life’

Students at Grant Elementary School are already singing the praises of physical fitness, months before they’ll see the effects of a grant awarded to the city.

They helped open a school assembly and news conference Thursday morning with a new jingle, singing: “When you bike, walk or wheel, see how good you feel!”

Let people celebrate in their own ways

Until a few years ago, I suffered from anniversary blues during this time of year. This is a condition that affects some people annually around the dates when they have undergone traumatic experiences. As it happened, my anniversaries coincided with the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when some folks experience unadulterated joy. When I spoke to my therapist friends, they told me that there were many, many people who suffered the same thing. The situation only caused me trouble the few times I had to do business with immature people. These folks always jump to the conclusion that everybody feels the same way they do about everything.

Fortunately, I got past all that after awhile, but it left a lasting impression. And so every year around this time I try to get the message out that, “Your thrill is not everybody’s thrill, so try to keep a lid on it, whatever it is.” Most people, especially those who move in wider, more diverse circles, are always conscious of religious differences. There is probably no other time during the year when people need to be as aware of social and cultural differences among their friends and colleagues as during the holidays.

MU student killed in party brawl

By Sunday afternoon, beer cans and broken bottles were the only remnants of a late-night college party that turned tragic. A 20-year-old MU student was shot to death outside a duplex on Riva Ridge Court about 3:30 a.m. Sunday after a fight broke out among party guests, said Columbia police Capt. Mike Martin.

Charles Blondis, a sophomore classics major at MU, was shot at least once in the upper torso and was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said they found three shell casings and have not yet determined whether Blondis was hit by more than one shot.

Columbia to provide recycling option to businesses

Local businesses have a new option to preserve Columbia’s environment. The city’s Solid Waste Division is now offering a commercial recycling service for businesses that is similar to the residential blue bag and fiber pickup.

“Between Civic Recycling and our new program, we should have Columbia’s recycling needs well-covered,” said Richard Wieman, Solid Waste Utility manager. The new program is part of an evolving process designed to meet Columbia’s changing recycling needs. This week, the Solid Waste Utility will begin operating a new sorting line for fiber. The line will be located in the material recovery facility that was erected by the city in fall of 2002. Much of the equipment inside the recovery facility, including the new sorting line, was provided by grants.

Fast and fabulous

Waymon Jones’ 2000 Mazda Protege is the ultimate tricked-out car.

The deep-blue exterior features tinted windows, 18-inch aluminum wheels and purple neon undercarriage lights. A nitrous oxide injection system, considered illegal for street racing, gives his car an extra boost.

Ride plan for senior citizens debated

In the quiet, little town of Westbrook, Maine, older residents receive rides for their daily errands through a transportation network that provides door-to-door service at relatively low cost.

The Boone County Senior Board, citing a growing need for senior transportation service in the county, hopes to use Westbrook’s Independent Transportation Network as the model for a service here. Board Director Ann Gowans said she likes the Westbrook system, which relies on volunteers with private vehicles and paid drivers with donated cars, according to its Web site.

The rescue of Cadillac Jack

It was a “sign from God” that prompted Cadillac Jack’s former owner to sell him to MU veterinary student Christina Truesdale, and she considers him the best mule in the world. Three years after she rescued him from a life of abuse, Cadillac Jack seems to have found his peace. And his appetite.

“I have a skinny old dog, and my mule is a porker,” Truesdale said while petting Jack’s belly during a recent visit to his stable.

How’s that for openers?

Rifle shots shattered the usual silence of the countryside Saturday as firearms deer season officially opened in Boone County. The nice weather meant plenty of deer, and hunters could be found roaming the county or checking their deer at one of four Boone County checking sites.

The Bittings family traveled more than 150 miles from Marshfield to hunt with their friend, Robert Riesenmy, whom they first met 10 years ago on a pow-wow circuit. The Bittings are Cherokee, and Riesenmy is of Osage and French descent.

Wife, 83, charged in killing

The scene at 10 a.m. on Iris Drive was one of tranquillity Saturday morning, contrasting sharply to the bustle of activity nearly 24 hours earlier when a Columbia man was shot to death in his home. Sgt. Stephen Monticelli of the Columbia Police Department said Marjorie F. Leslie, 83, called 9-1-1 at 8:56 a.m. on Friday, stating that she had shot her husband, James R. Leslie, 86, after he tried to attack her with a knife.

When officers arrived at the 1900 block of Iris Drive, they found James Leslie with two gunshot wounds in his upper torso from a .38-caliber revolver, police said. Police recovered the gun from the home and arrested Marjorie Leslie, Monticelli said.

Columbia mall renovations in store

The Columbia Mall is scheduled to have a new look beginning in January, and it’s not just because the holiday decorations will have come down.

General Growth Properties Inc. announced plans Friday morning to update Columbia Mall.

No charges for 6-year-old

JEFFERSON CITY — A 6-year-old boy suspected of fatally shooting his grandfather with a rifle will be made a ward of the court but will not face criminal charges, a court official said Friday.

Winston Rutledge, juvenile court administrator for Cole County, said he decided against certifying the boy to stand trial for several reasons, including the child’s age. Instead, the boy will be turned over to the juvenile court for treatment and supervision, Rutledge said in a statement.

Festival sparks competition for grant

Residents of Huntsdale are determined to hold the first Lewis and Clark River Festival next summer whether or not they receive a grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The town hopes to draw 1,500 to 2,000 visitors for the two-day festival next June 5-6. Interpretive signs, exhibits, nature walks and boat tours are planned for the event that seeks to educate festival-goers about the Missouri River and Lewis and Clark’s voyage, said Huntsdale mayor, Debby Lancaster.

Fireworks on agenda for council

Bullets and sparks could fly after Columbia City Council members review a report on Monday outlining options for allowing hunting and fireworks within the city.

After reviewing the report, the council could request that city staff draft an ordinance allowing these activities on recently annexed land. There would be restrictions, however, concerning where hunting and shooting fireworks would be allowed.

Seminar aims to improve gun safety

Mid-Missouri law enforcement officers learned techniques for improving firearms safety and increasing convictions during an all-day seminar Thursday at the Daniel Boone City Building.

The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms division of Kansas City conducted the presentation. The seminar was part of “Project Safe Neighborhoods,” a program set up by the Justice Department to reduce firearm violence, said Jeffrey Fulton, assistant special agent in charge at the ATF’s Kansas City office.

Students awarded for research work

While it is often overlooked, the ability to produce original research is key to a doctor’s ability to care for patients. On Thursday, the MU School of Medicine showcased its students who conduct research long before they become practicing physicians.

A small group of MU medical students displayed their original research projects at the school of medicine’s annual Research Day.

Seat belt campaign returns

As part of an ongoing initiative aimed at achieving higher levels of seat belt use, Missouri law enforcement agencies are to beginning another round of their “Click It or Ticket” campaign Monday.

The campaign, which is part of a national effort to increase the use of safety restraints, will run through Dec. 1. Police will emphasize increased enforcement of all Missouri’s traffic laws and have a “zero-tolerance” stance on safety belt laws. The effort is to increase awareness and compliance with these laws.