Electric contract to raise city rates

For the next three months, Columbia residents will see a temporary 9.5 percent increase in their electricity bill.

The increase is the result of a new power contract with AmerenUE, rising natural gas prices and rising electricity transmission costs, said Jim Windsor, manager of rates and fiscal planning for Columbia. For an average household, which uses 1,200 kilowatt hours a month, the increase will be $7.46. The rate increase will be in effect for the months of July, August and September. In October, the City Council will be asked to raise electricity prices permanently with the passing of the city budget.

Climbing wall trial starts

A snapped cable dominated testimony Tuesday during the first day of the trial of the climbing-wall owner charged with involuntarily causing the death of a Jefferson City woman in July outside a Mid-Missouri Mavericks’ game.

Marcus Floyd is on trial for second-degree involuntary manslaughter in the death of Christine Ewing, 22, who fell more than 20 feet to her death when a cable broke on the portable climbing wall that Floyd owned. Floyd has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Second day of school smoother

On Tuesday morning, Skip Deming, assistant superintendent of instruction, said that administrators tried to identify which students were affected by the mix-up and continued to notify the parents of those children. Parents were given two options: Students could remain at the wrong school to which they were bused on the first day but find their own transportation, or be bused by the district to the correct school. Deming said most parents had the district transport their children.

Republican AG hopeful gets help from Keyes

Before a crowd of about 200 supporters, radio talk-show host and two-time presidential candidate Alan Keyes claimed that an erosion of America’s moral foundation was leading the nation toward a crisis, one that could soon determine the fate of both the U.S. Constitution and Americans’ basic freedoms. To avoid such a future, Keyes said Dewey Crepeau, a Columbia native, should be the one to replace Jay Nixon as the state’s attorney general.

Crepeau worked on Keyes’ 1996 bid for the presidency. Now Keyes is supporting Crepeau. Their similar views were one reason Crepeau gave for his choice of Keyes for his keynote speech; both referred to each other as men of honesty and integrity.

Rios inquiry under way

The Columbia Police Department has launched an internal-affairs investigation of Steven Rios, the officer who has been linked to homicide victim Jesse Valencia.

The investigation, which began Monday, is focusing on “issues related to policy and procedure violations,” Police Chief Randy Boehm said. The investigation is being led by Capt. Sam Hargadine, the department’s internal-affairs commander.

City compost piles up

Since the Solid Waste Division began selling compost to the public last fall, it has generated only $2,600 in revenue, less than expected for the nutrient-rich soil, landfill superintendent Cynthia Mitchell said.

Since 2002, the city had been selling its compost in bulk to businesses looking for landscaping material. But when the incoming yard waste and other compostable materials became overwhelming, the landfill purchased a compost screener to produce a finer, more marketable soil for homes and gardens. Mitchell said that by opening sales to individuals, the composting facility has attracted more customers.

Coffee grounds good compost for the ground, Starbucks says

“Grounds for Your Garden” invites people to pick up spent grounds from Starbucks to use as a compost ingredient.

Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and, when added to compost, can improve soil quality. The used grounds are acidic, however, and should be no more than 25 percent of compost content, according to Starbucks representative Megan Behrbaum. The acidity can be balanced by “liming” — adding one teaspoon of lime or wood chips for every five pounds of grounds.

System aims to aid court accuracy

Judge Gary Oxenhandler and court reporter Kristal Murphy use a real-time court reporting system. The system translates the shorthand that Murphy creates from testimony into readable text that is displayed instantaneously to attorneys and Oxenhandler on court-provided laptops. The record provided from the system is unofficial, and rules prevent attorneys from taking transcripts of the testimony out of the courtroom.

Summertime blues at local venues

“Jam-packed” does not come to mind when looking at the 15-foot gap between fans and the band Elf Power at Mojo’s.

A month ago, a full house at Mojo’s would not be uncommon. But by the end of May, collegiate concertgoers leave the town’s music venues working to keep crowds.

City road work may slow traffic

The Public Works Department will be working on many roads around Columbia June 15 through June 18 between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Call 573-874-6289 with questions.

A welcome transition

Eleven thousand incoming freshmen and their parents will make their way to MU this summer to attend the whirlwind orientation and registration session called Summer Welcome, a program that stands alone because it’s almost entirely organized and led by students.

“Summer Welcome really is a year-round planning process, and for all the effort and planning and time that goes into it, the (student) leaders are the ones who make it happen, who make it such a powerful event for so many of the students and parents,” said David Rielley, MU coordinator of new student programs.

Time for play after a life full of work

Skip Deming is ready to trade in his seat behind a desk for a seat behind the wheel.

Deming, who has worked in the Columbia School District for 33 years, and his wife, Jerri, have big plans after Deming’s last day as assistant superintendent of instruction on June 25. They own a motor home in which they will travel across the continental United States.

A bumpy start

Most parents worry about their kids on the first day of school — particularly when they don’t come home on time.

On the first day of the new summer school program operated by Newton Learning, difficulties arose in accommodating more than 7,000 students in seven buildings districtwide. Although the day at Columbia elementary schools ended at 4:15 p.m. Monday, many schools were still loading buses until 5 p.m. Some worried parents called police to report their children missing when they had not returned home by around 5:30 or 6 p.m. Shawn Brady, general manager of First Student, the company charged with transporting the students, said all students were finally home by 7:15 p.m. and said the system still has some kinks to work out.

Schools adopt budget, will work with REDI

The Columbia Board of Education adopted the proposed 2004-05 budget Monday night after reaching a compromise about cutting juvenile officer positions.

There was discussion at the board meeting Thursday about cutting the hours of the two juvenile officers from two full-time positions to two half-time positions. Superintendent Phyllis Chase said Monday that a change was made to the job description to keep both officers working full-time. The officers will now address elementary-school issues as well as secondary-level concerns.

Bush promotes Medicare in Missouri

LIBERTY — Part campaign trip, part information session, and part town hall meeting, President Bush's visit to Kansas City to discuss his new prescription drug card program gave him a chance to build support in a crucial presidential election swing state and put a positive spin on the new discount. “We want our seniors to have the benefits of modern medicine in a way that’s affordable," Bush said.

Rios was requested at scene of slaying

When police officers were trying to determine the identity of slaying victim Jesse Valencia, in the hours after the MU student’s body was found in an East Campus neighborhood, one person they turned to for help was Officer Steven Rios.

Capt. Mike Martin, the department’s investigative commander, said Rios — who was involved in a personal relationship with Valencia and is on administrative leave from the force — was called to the scene of the crime to aid investigators.


A candidate profile Sunday on page 4A attributed the wrong post to 23rd District state Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia. He is the minority whip and a member of the Democratic Leadership Council.

An article Sunday on page 8A misidentified state Rep. Chuck Graham’s political party. He is a Democrat.

Trial to begin in climbing death

Before she fell to her death from a climbing wall during a Mid-Missouri Mavericks game last summer, Christine Ewing used to head to the gym most mornings with her mother, Kathleen Schmitz.

Now, Schmitz said, the gym conjures up too many painful memories — although they’re nothing compared to what she remembers of the evening of July 14, 2003.

Boone County teen shot at home

A 17-year-old woman who was shot in the back while making her bed Sunday afternoon was airlifted to University Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Although investigators with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department were originally told that the woman, whose name was not disclosed, was shot by an intruder, Detective Tom Reddin said in a news release Sunday night that interviews and evidence in the case were inconsistent.

Schools to vote on working with REDI

The Columbia Board of Education is expected to vote at tonight’s meeting on whether to have a representative from the district work with Regional Economic Development Inc.

The administration is recommending that the board take action to ensure input on work with REDI to draft policies that use incentives to draw businesses to Boone County. The incentives could temporarily reduce property taxes for the prospective businesses. Because the school board depends on revenue from property taxes and each development would have different outcomes, the financial effect of the proposal is unknown.