Democrats battle while Blunt cruises

JEFFERSON CITY — The winner of Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary is likely to emerge from the fight with little money and a lot of campaign bruises.

The likely reward for the victor: A well-funded Republican opponent whose familiar name has yet to be scarred by a single negative campaign ad.

Council to consider marijuana initiatives

Two proposals for changing the way Columbia deals with misdemeanor marijuana cases will be considered by the Columbia City Council tonight.

The proposals are the result of initiative petitions from the Columbia Alliance for Patients and Education. One calls for dismissing charges against people caught with marijuana if they have a doctor’s approval to use the drug. The other calls for handling misdemeanor possession cases in Municipal Court and prohibiting jail time. Rejection of the initiatives would require that the council place the initiatives on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

From politics to cow-patty bingo

Stump-speaking at Midway on Saturday took a back seat to socializing. In the parking lot of a gas station, people wearing silly T-shirts, campaign stickers and cowboy hats gathered to raise money for the Central Missouri Food Bank.

The annual fund-raiser features local politicians who want to make that last-minute impression on voters. But policy talk doesn't fit the pace of an event that features "cow-patty bingo," so most speakers try to be funny.

How to use the potential money generated by gambling at Rockaway Beach clouds issue of education funding

For some Amendment 1 opponents, the main issue isn't gambling, it's what they say is poor educational policy.

State revenues from the estimated $39.9 to $49 million generated by the amendment would be directed toward teacher salaries and capital improvements in Missouri's "priority schools."

In the market for votes

Art Gelder’s T-shirt flashed no name but his own and endorsed nothing but his farm and beekeeping business.

Although Missouri’s primary election was three days away, the first thing on Gelder’s mind was his honey. The election, however, wasn’t too much farther down the list.

Residents bet it all on casino

Heading south on U.S. 65 toward Branson, huge billboards tout the headline acts on stage at the live show capital of the world: Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. Andy Williams. Presley’s Country Jubilee.

There are no billboards after the exit for Rockaway Beach. But nine curving miles east of the highway, as the two-lane blacktop enters the dried-up resort town on the White River, visitors are greeted by an assembly of signs with a singular message: “Yes on Amendment 1.”

Churches examine Amendment 2 vote

The Rev. Bill Smart of Evangelical Free Church in Columbia said he intends to deliver a sermon this morning about gay marriage but will not tell congregants how to vote on the issue.

“I’m going to remind them that while we should all be involved citizens who vote with godly wisdom, that it’s more important that we show love to homosexuals,” he said Friday.

Amendment 2 likely to be challenged if passed

On Tuesday, Missouri voters will be asked the following question, in the form of constitutional Amendment 2:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman?

Health care ideas divide Democrats

Health care is a hot topic for both 19th District state Senate Democratic candidates, Tim Harlan and Chuck Graham. It has been the source of conversation at forums, in radio and television ads and at stump speeches.

Although the two candidates set to face off in Tuesday’s primary share similar views on many aspects of health care, they are split over what issues warrant the most concern. While Graham has campaigned on expanding his personal-care assistance program, Harlan’s focus has been on providing health care to small-business employees and farmers.

Absentees indicate voting surge

If the number of absentee ballots being cast is any indication, Tuesday’s primary is going to be a wild one for the Boone County Clerk’s office.

The office set a record Tuesday when it processed 323 absentee primary ballots. Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren said she and her staff processed between 250 and 300 absentee ballots every day last week.

Interests connect for volunteer at Wisc. air show

Of more than 4,500 volunteers running the country’s biggest air show this weekend, one Columbia man is doing double duty during what he considers a vacation.

Greg Heifner is filling two roles when he travels to Experimental Aircraft Association’s Airventure Oshkosh in Wisconsin. He volunteers as a staff photographer for the EAA and supplies primary Internet connections for the association and a flight management software company.

Oakland Plaza Lanes shuts down its lanes after 30 years

Adonna Mason has been going to Oakland Plaza Lanes since she was 12. “I can remember my sister and I playing downstairs, while my parents would bowl upstairs during the Skater Bowls,” she said. “There used to be a skating rink downstairs.”

Mason, 37, used to bowl at least twice a week. On Monday nights, she would bowl for an MU faculty and staff league. One afternoon a week she would bowl with a not-for-profit agency that provides support for people with disabilities.

Chief retires after 23 years in Ashland

Retiring Ashland Police Chief Mel Rupard has some advice for the incoming chief — come in with an open mind, get to know the people, find out what the citizens want and see what you can do to provide those services, and be fair, honest and neutral.

Rupard wrapped up his career with a reception at the Ashland Senior Center on Friday evening. Wearing his dark blue Ashland Police Department uniform, he received thanks, congratulations and well wishes. Several people who he had helped during his career came and shared stories.

Movie buffs can see but not hear

Janice Cobb is a big film fan. But she never goes to a movie theater.

Cobb, who is deaf, misses the day when, thanks to open captioning, she could go to theaters with her husband, Donald, and her son, John, and see the latest releases.

Humble retirement

Paintings, photos and cross-stitch samplers on the walls of the Rev. Fred Brandenburg’s tidy study reveal the closeness of the relationships he has with his congregation. Nearly each one was made by a member of Columbia United Church of Christ.

“I appreciate their creativity,” he said. “If you encourage it, people’s talent comes out.”

Enduring Faith

It’s the end of a sweltering day, and the air conditioning in Hartsburg Baptist Church isn’t quite up to the challenge. Marjorie and Carl Thomas arrived early to turn it on before the 6:30 prayer service, but it’s more or less futile in the face of a summer heat advisory. It’s Tuesday night, though, and that means there will be a prayer service, hot weather or not.

The Thomases settle in next to each other toward the back of the church and wait for others to arrive.

‘Reporting for duty’

The Democratic National Convention was winding down with one final night of speeches Thursday in Boston, but some local delegates said that the real work — getting their man elected — was just about to begin.

“I think that it’s incredible to be here, with all of the excitement and color, but basically, I think that the deeper on-going purpose has to do with energizing the people that work at the grass-roots level and inspire our Missourians with a hopeful message that we have the power to restore our faith and confidence in government,” said delegate Elizabeth Kerry of Columbia, who is not related to Sen. John Kerry.

Blunt in federally funded voting ads

Secretary of State Matt Blunt spent almost $48,000 in public money on statewide newspaper advertising that includes his name and picture, urging voters to turn out for Tuesday’s primary.

The ad is to make a return appearance in Missouri’s daily newspapers on Monday — the day before Blunt faces five little-known opponents in the Republican primary for governor. Blunt used federal funds to pay $47,984 to the Missouri Press Association to place the ads twice through Tuesday’s primary in 295 daily and weekly newspapers across the state, said Mike Sell, MPA’s advertising director.

Wish no longer: Wienermobile comes to games

This year at MU football and basketball games, you will hear the high-pitched toot-toot of a Wienerwhistle: Oscar Mayer is now the official hot dog of MU athletics.

John Felver, senior account executive with Mizzou Sports Properties, a private company that contracts with the university, said the company was looking to make more money for MU. The arrangement is part of a larger consumer promotion deal with Kraft Foods, which owns Oscar Mayer.

Sheriff hopefuls focus on meth, policing

During public debates and in personal statements, the four candidates for Boone County Sheriff say that reducing methamphetamine use and increasing the presence of deputies in communities will be priorities, if they are elected.

Combating methamphetamine production in Boone County is a major issue say Democrat Ken Kreigh, a former sheriff’s detective, and Republican Mick Covington, a former captain at the Columbia Police Department. Both Kreigh and Covington have a background fighting drugs. Before he resigned from the department this year, Kreigh was a supervisor of the drug enforcement unit. Covington was an undercover narcotics agent for two years.