Weather balloon initially creates scare

A northwest Boone County resident found a small package attached to an orange parachute in her yard Tuesday evening, but a bomb squad and firefighters determined that the device was a harmless weather balloon.

The resident, identified by the Boone County Fire District as Connie Coil, notified an off-duty sheriff’s deputy after she found the item about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Hindman to run for 4th term

With a "Hindman for Mayor" yard sign propped up behind him, Mayor Darwin Hindman announced Thursday he will run for re-election.

"I'm proud to have served three terms as mayor and would be proud to be re-elected," he said.

From tropical to arctic

When temperatures slid from 70 degrees to 4 degrees in a matter of days, outdoor workers had some adjusting to do.

Temperatures topped out at 71 degrees on Friday and dipped down to 4 on Monday. Both numbers are far outside the average temperature of 20 degrees for January in Columbia.

No easy way to walk away from meth

Teenage girlfriends share lots of things: clothes, makeup, secrets.

Leslie Roettgen and Stacey Norris shared alcohol and drugs.

State revenue collections still in dispute

JEFFERSON CITY — On the eve of Missouri’s 2004 General Assembly session, legislative leaders and the governor’s office still are in dispute about how much money the state will have this year.

Meanwhile, the Revenue Department released figures showing the state’s revenue collections for the first half of the current budget year were 7.9 percent higher than last year. When $95.1 million of one-time federal aid is excluded, general revenue is up 4.8 percent as of December 2003.

Education funds top agenda

JEFFERSON CITY — As legislators trickled into their offices to prepare for Wednesday’s start of the 2004 session, they came in dragging behind them last year’s biggest challenge — the budget.

Republicans cite education funding and transportation as being among the biggest issues to be faced by the General Assembly during this session. Democrats say, however, that their highest priority will be riding out an even greater budget crisis than last year.

Area duck hunters bag record numbers

Duck hunters at the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area bagged a record number of waterfowl this year — 5,754 ducks, 963 more than last year.

This year more than 2,700 hunters visited the wetlands, a managed area in the Missouri River bottoms south of Columbia. Hunters killed an average of 2.11 ducks each, said Jim Loveless of the Missouri Department of Conservation, which manages Eagle Bluffs.

Talent lauds local work program

Sen. Jim Talent visited Columbia on Tuesday to hold up efforts by a local welfare-to-work program as an example for other communities across the country.

BooneWorks, a nonprofit consortium, recently announced the results of its 4 1/2 year welfare-to-work grant funded through the U.S. Department of Labor. The local project combined several community organizations to provide clients with job training, education, job placement and post-employment support.

Crossing borders

Pictures and artifacts from around the world line the walls just inside the front hall of Barbara Bauer’s southwest Columbia home. She has had to add pages to her passport, which has been stamped in many places — including Bosnia, Kosovo, Pakistan, Israel, Albania and Afghanistan.

Bauer, a psychologist, began volunteering for humanitarian missions with the MU International Center for Psychosocial Trauma in 1994. Her work — helping people who have been traumatized by war or abuse — took her to many war-torn countries, usually for no longer than 10 days or two weeks. Then Bauer would return to Columbia and her private practice.

Man, 42, found dead behind Supercenter

A 42-year-old man was found dead behind the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Monday after police received a call at 9:56 a.m. from a Wal-Mart employee who reported that an unresponsive man was lying in an icy area behind the south end of the store, the Columbia Police Department said.

The man, identified as David J. Willingham of Columbia, was found lying near a fence wearing blue jeans, a gray hooded sweatshirt, a blue flannel shirt and one glove. Police described him not as homeless but as a “transient” and said he owned a car.

Council OKs development on north side

After almost an hour of debate, the Columbia City Council approved Forest Ridge’s site plan, stating that development should come before infrastructure.

Many residents living along Brown School Road, the site of the planned-unit development, expressed concerns about traffic, flooding and storm water conditions in the area.

Meth’s growth outstrips prevention efforts

The Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force fills two rooms of the senior citizens center in the town of Fortuna, 50 miles south of Columbia. The center is in an old schoolhouse with creaking floors and dark hallways. The stalls in the bathrooms are fitted with painted wooden doors.

In the main task force office, tallies and flow charts cover the green chalkboards. Lines are drawn diagonally from J.P. who makes meth to A.R. who sells, and vertically from A.R. to T.R. and D.P. — all of whom use. Across the hall is the meeting room of the Fortuna Ladies’ Knitting Club.

Horse owners arraigned on felony animal abuse charges

The Hallsville couple charged last week with felony animal abuse in connection with the death of a horse appeared in Boone County Circuit Court for the first time Monday.

Brandi and Thomas Phillips said nothing as Associate Circuit Judge Jodie Asel informed the couple, who are free on bond from the Boone County Jail, that they face two counts each of felony animal abuse. Each count carries a maximum punishment of four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Mischief and politics

John Ballard likes to stir up trouble.

If you can’t tell that by the mischievous glint in his eye, he’ll tell you so.

Seductive destruction

The meth capital of the United States. That’s the reputation rural

Missouri has earned. Statewide, 2,743 meth labs were busted in 2002. The drug lures users in. Leslie Roettgen knows all about it. Meth makes her feel brilliant and powerful.

All safe in emergency jet landing

Forty-two passengers and two crew-members are safe after their plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Columbia Regional Airport around 10:45 a.m. Sunday, according to airline officials.

United Express flight 5452, operated by the Appleton, Wisc.-based company Air Wisconsin, was en route to Washington-Dulles International Airport from Kansas City International Airport. While airport officials originally cited a failure in the plane's left engine, Air Wisconsin spokes-woman Kelly Lanpheer said the problem was actually in the warning light for the engine.

Challenge to school funds awaits filing

JEFFERSON CITY — On Tuesday, an attorney representing 229 Missouri school districts plans to file a long-expected lawsuit challenging the way the state funds public schools.

His plaintiffs include school officials, students, parents and taxpayers. And his claim is twofold — that Missouri fails to provide enough money to schools, and that the money it does provide is handed out unfairly.

Time to stock up for another year

Well, it’s a brand-new year and time to get on the good foot, as the old folks used to say. Most of my friends who traveled by air during the holidays seem to have accepted that extensive security checks and long waiting periods are rapidly becoming a way of life. They consider a few inconveniences a small price to pay for the peace of mind of safe air travel. Some have expressed their belief that high levels of security alerts will be with us for years.

Many of us have adjusted to the reality that we have entered a new phase of global existence. People of different economic, political and social levels have divergent views as to what our future role will be in the new world order. For some, it is a time of great confidence and self-assurance; for others, discomfort and uncertainty weigh heavily on the mind.

UM board president asked for challenge

KANSAS CITY— Mary James secured her seat on the University of Missouri’s Board of Curators in the simplest way possible: She asked to serve, and her wish was granted.

“I had always done public service work in my community — park board and athletic booster club. I’d always raised money here in town,” James said. “This is sort of an extension of all of that,” but it’s “the big time.”

After a year, 700 people use ARC daily

Columbia’s Activity & Recreation Center has been open for a year now, and those running it couldn’t be happier.

“I think the ARC has lived up to — if not exceeded — most of the expectations the community had for it,” said Gary Ristow, recreation services manager for Columbia Parks and Recreation.