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State sees price spike at gas pump

Lauren Phillips thinks Columbia drivers have it good when it comes to gas prices. The St. Charles resident was on her way to visit family in Belton on Tuesday afternoon when she stopped to fill up her tank at the Conoco on I-70 Drive SW.

“A buck-forty-seven is pretty cheap,” she said. “Fuel was like over a buck-sixty back home.”

Jeep fire remains a mystery

Michelle Ricketts, daughter of Mary Coronado-Leija Baker, and Michelle’s stepmother Angela Ricketts arrived to a horrific scene when they turned onto Stone Street on Monday.

“Michelle and I went over to visit with her; we pulled up on everything,” said Angela Ricketts, a longtime friend of Baker’s. “She was already gone, but the detectives and police officers and everybody were still there. We didn’t know what had happened, so it was a pretty big shock.”

GOP resists Holden union fee rule

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Bob Holden’s effort to allow unions to take money from nonunion state workers was voted down by a House rules committee Tuesday.

By a party-line vote, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules sent to the full House a resolution recommending the removal of the service fee rule.

Forum to answer mad cow questions

Although it has been a couple of weeks since the most recent mad cow disease scare, some consumers are still concerned about bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

In response, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the agriculture and health sciences departments at MU will hold a question-and-answer session about BSE and similar diseases at 1 p.m. today at MU’s Veterinary Medical Auditorium.

Girl Scout cookies back on the market

If you made dieting your New Year’s resolution, read no further. On the other hand, if the words “Thin Mints” make your mouth water, you’re in luck.

The Girl Scouts have begun their annual cookie sale, which will end Jan. 25. At $3.50, up 50 cents from last year, the price may be well worth it. In addition to traditional favorites like Tagalongs and Samoas, the Girl Scouts are introducing two new flavors: Double Dutch Chocolate Chocolate Chip and low-fat Lemon Coolers.

Celebration embraces diversity

Mark Kelty’s directed plays before but nothing like this.

Kelty, who runs the Teen to Teen InterACT Theatre, is coordinating the theatrical program Thursday morning for the 11th Annual Columbia Values Diversity Celebration.

‘04 Special Olympics in Columbia

Columbia already is host to the Senior Show-Me Games and the Show-Me State Games. Now it will feature the Special Olympics Missouri State Summer Games as well. Naomi Cupp, board chairwoman of Special Olympics Missouri, announced Tuesday that MU will host the Special Olympics Summer Games for the next four years. Lorah Steiner, executive director of the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Olympics will bring a $4 million boost to the local economy. “It is an opportunity to strengthen our program and reward the community for their exemplary support,” Cupp said. Columbia was chosen for its exceptional hospitality, ...

Bill to seek tax-break accountability

JEFFERSON CITY — Missourians would learn more about businesses that are getting special tax breaks under a plan to be proposed in Missouri’s Senate.

Tax subsidies to the tune of tens of millions of dollars are issued each year to businesses that participate in one of about 50 state programs — with the expectation that those businesses provide public benefits, such as bringing new development to impoverished areas or preserving historic buildings.

Mother charged with child abuse

A Columbia woman was charged on Tuesday with two counts of felony child abuse involving her two children, ages 3 and 5.

Yolanda Gail Brewster, 24, of the 1200 block of Elleta Boulevard, was arrested Monday.

Fiscal risk seen in science bonds

Missouri Democratic and Republican lawmakers share the goal of boosting life sciences research in Missouri, but some Democrats say the University of Missouri’s proposal to use $190.4 million in bonds to meet the goal could put the state’s fiscal stability at risk.

Meanwhile, officials of other public universities in Missouri with life sciences said they want to be included in the plans.

Initial wrestling building plan OK’d

Hickman High School wrestling coach Doug Black dreads rainy days. Precipitation turns his practice room into a series of puddles.

“When it rains, it leaks water really bad,” he said. “It leaks in 40 or 50 different spots. It’s not a very pleasant room.”

Car fire burns woman over 90% of body

A woman was listed in critical condition Monday night after suffering burns from a car fire in a residential area near Business Loop 70 on Monday morning.

The victim was in the burn unit at University Hospital and Clinics with burns on 90 to 100 percent of her body. Officials had not released the victim’s name.

Judge appointed in suit over school funding

JEFFERSON CITY — The former executive director of Missouri’s Association of Prosecuting Attorneys will be the first judge to hear the lawsuit against Missouri’s school funding system.

Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan has been assigned to hear the mammoth school funding lawsuit filed late last week. The lawsuit asserts that the state’s complicated public school funding formula is neither equitable nor adequate in its distribution of state funds.

Business-boost controversy

Four years ago, Anita Griggs certified her business as a women-owned business with the state’s Office of Administration in hopes of the state spending money on her services. But since that time, Anita’s Homestyle Catering has yet to see any benefit, she said.

“Other than our name being on a list, I really haven’t benefited from it,” Griggs said.

Helping hands interpret City Council

For Peggy Withrow and Kelley Clark, five-hour-long City Council meetings can be mentally — and physically — exhausting.

Withrow and Clark are employed to interpret everything said at Columbia’s City Council meetings into American Sign Language for an audience of TV viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. “It can be tiring,” said Clark, 34, who has worked as an interpreter for about eight years. “There are times when we miss key words, dates or spellings.”

Going wireless in the heart of Africa

In the trading center of Makindye, a 10-minute drive south of downtown Kampala, Uganda, Godfrey Mukasa is doing business. The 22-year-old civil engineering student sells prepaid phone cards and used cell phones from a sidewalk kiosk. His small timber shack is painted yellow and blue, the colors of MTN Uganda, the country’s leading wireless operator.

On a good night, Mukasa returns to his parents’ house at 10:30 p.m. with a profit of 15,000 Uganda shillings — roughly $7.50. The average citizen earns less than $1 a day, according to World Bank statistics.

Thornbrook citizens voice fire concerns

When Beth Winton’s son lay on the pool deck turning blue two years ago, Winton would have loved to receive help from a city of Columbia fire station three miles away.

But Thornbrook, her subdivision, receives service from Boone County Fire Protection District. At the time, the closest county station was 5.3 miles away. It took about 11 minutes for a truck to arrive, and a neighbor saved Winton’s 4½ -year-old child.

Mending a marred mosaic

Almost two years and three months ago, the Tiger Spot mosaic on MU’s campus was unveiled during Homecoming to a crowd of students, faculty and alumni beneath a shining sun. Now, in the midst of winter and daily below-freezing temperatures, work has stopped on the donation by local artist Paul Jackson.

Lewis and Clark on One Read’s list

This year marks the bicentennial of the beginning of Lewis and Clark’s expedition to explore America’s newly acquired Western territory. An account of that journey is under consideration for Columbia’s next One Read program.

“Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose is one of 10 books under review by a panel of 14 volunteers for the 2004 program, which begins in September. The One Read program is one in which community members all read the same book and discuss it in various forums. The adult-oriented program, which started in Seattle and gained national notice in Chicago, has taken off in cities around the country.

Ragtag becomes nonprofit

Ragtag Cinemacafe, Columbia’s independent theater where you can sit on a sofa and have dinner while watching a movie, now operates as a nonprofit organization.

Charlotte Overby, a member of Ragtag’s seven-person governing board, said becoming a nonprofit organization means Ragtag won’t pay taxes on ticket sales and equipment. It also allows the theater to accept tax-deductible donations.

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