Surviving hotel hygiene

Coming from a family with six kids, I can’t remember as we were growing up ever staying in a hotel. Our vacations meant sleeping on the hard ground in a tent. We had a couple of sleeping bags, but they were for those who couldn’t fit in the tent and had to sleep in the VW bus.

It wasn’t until I started looking at colleges that I spent a night as a paid guest. I felt like a princess. The bathroom had shampoo and conditioner in tiny little bottles. There were little bars of soap wrapped in pleated paper with a gold seal. The room even had a Bible in the drawer, although it was the King James version.

Rising star

Chioma Anyawu learns how to put on fake eyelashes in the faculty lounge bathroom at Hickman High School.

The 18-year-old star actress studies the directions on the box.

Cartoon commentary

During this stormy season of campaigns, caucuses and primaries, political cartoonists have been whipping the political winds into tornadoes. These artists dissect the issues to find the comedy and turn human-looking candidates into unattractive mistake-makers who don’t deserve to be elected.

The political fervor that takes over the country during the winter primaries and leads up to the November general election gives cartoonists even more fuel for their fires. With all the issues to sort through and candidates to lampoon, the work of a political cartoonist can be more challenging, but also more fun.

Passionate reads

The surprise blockbuster, “The Passion of The Christ,” seems to have subtly changed the tone of this year’s Lenten season. On opening day, as the faithful and the curious flocked to movie theaters in Columbia and around the world, many churches passed out free tickets and biblical tracts.

Quiet chapels and foggy incense — the traditional markers of Ash Wednesday — gave way to a box-office boom as Lent moved toward a public experience instead of a personal one.

Varsity football coming to Ashland

Football fields need bleachers, goal posts, a press box, concession stands and scoreboards. And you can’t forget the lights for Friday night football. The must-have list for players includes uniforms, helmets, padding and training equipment.

The total cost of starting a football program can be upwards of $500,000, which is a pretty steep price for a school to pay.

Smithton Ridge neighbors unite

When residents north of West Broadway learned last summer about plans to build a connector road through their neighborhood to Interstate 70, they banded together to voice concerns about increased traffic, reduced property values and effects on wildlife.

Residents began meeting and presenting their views at Columbia City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission meetings in an effort to preserve the integrity of their neighborhood.

GOP looks for new senate candidate

Local Republicans have until Tuesday to find a new candidate for the Missouri Senate, after Kat Cunningham announced that she is dropping out of the 19th District Senate race.

Cunningham said that unforeseen circumstances have forced her to devote her time to running her business, Moresource. The Columbia company handles administrative services for other businesses and was founded by Cunningham in 1994.

New Democrat in House race

Former MU political science professor Greg Casey will officially announce his candidacy for state representative at 10:30 a.m. today at Casey and Co., 1 E. Broadway.

Casey is running as a Democrat for the 24th District seat of the Missouri House of Representatives, now held by Chuck Graham. Graham, a Democrat, will lose the seat because of term limits and is running for state senator.

Cleanup Columbia asks for volunteers

The city is seeking more volunteers to register for the eighth annual Cleanup Columbia event before the April 2 deadline. Almost 900 people have already volunteered to pick up trash along the city’s streets and parks for the April 10 event.

Each participant will receive a T-shirt or water bottle and will be invited to a post-cleanup barbecue at Twin Lakes Recreation Area. To register, call the Office of Volunteer Services at 874-7499 or visit

Dispatches from the War on Fat

In case you haven’t noticed, we Americans are fat.

Really fat. In fact, earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that overeating is on pace to become the No. 1 cause of avoidable deaths in the United States next year, knocking tobacco use out of the top spot.

Pledge: A nation divisible after all

WASHINGTON — Under the stony gazes of Moses and Muhammad, the Supreme Court opened its Wednesday session as any other. The spectators — many of whom had waited in long lines to attend the historic arguments — rose to their feet as the justices filed into the pillared chamber and a marshal proclaimed the court’s traditional rhetoric: “God save the United States and this honorable court.”

In a room built to immortalize many of history’s great thinkers — a number of them from religious traditions — the court began to weigh the constitutionality of the phrase “under God” in the pledge millions of school children recite daily.

Supreme Court rules against city

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in an 8-to-1 decision that Missouri had the right to restrict the ability of municipalities such as Columbia and other political subdivisions to sell telecommunications services.

“We lost,” said Bill Johnson, deputy director of the Missouri Municipal League, which represented the cities of Columbia, Springfield and Sikeston in the case.

Brooks’ divide with NAACP grows

As the first mayoral candidate to give remarks at a forum Wednesday night at Paquin Tower, Arch Brooks opened the event by reminding the audience of his perspective of Columbia as the only black candidate.

“I was around here before we integrated the Columbia Public School District,” he said.

Starting off right

Still sleepy from her afternoon nap, the 3-year-old widens her big blue eyes and jumps from her chair with a smile: Her tutor is waving from across the room.

Every Wednesday afternoon, nine preschoolers at Hand-in-Hand Learning Center on Bearfield Road welcome Jumpstart volunteers as if they were older siblings, the children eager to start playing — and learning.

Holden denounces Medicaid cuts

KANSAS CITY — Republicans’ Proposed cuts to the state’s Medicaid program are “penny-wise and pound-foolish,” Gov. Bob Holden told a crowded room of supporters Wednesday.

Billed by the Democratic governor as a hearing on the proposed cuts, the event drew health care providers, parents and community activists, who all testified against the legislation.

Recycling — a matter of convenience

City officials said the bright blue bins located at 33 Columbia convenience stores have done a ton of good to help recycling in the city. Thirteen tons to be exact.

Eleven months into Columbia’s convenience store-based recycling program, 13 tons of soda bottles and cans have been recycled via the 108 bins, according to Angela Gehlert, Columbia’s waste minimization coordinator. Gehlert said because the program has been so successful, it will be expanded during the next year.

Mayoral candidates debate

How to deal with Columbia as a growing city, both in size and population, was the focal point of a town hall meeting featuring Mayor Darwin Hindman and mayoral candidates Arch Brooks and John Clark on Tuesday afternoon.

A small crowd gathered at the Cherry Street Artisan coffee shop, 111 South Ninth St., for the meeting. KFRU/1400 AM broadcast it live, and it was moderated by the station’s talk show hosts Chris Kellogg and David Lile.

County doles project money

While Columbia again received the biggest share of revenue-sharing money from the county’s half-cent sales tax for roads this year, the program is even more important to the county’s smaller towns, Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller said.

The Boone County Commission distributed the money earlier this month, handing out $683,760 of the $2.88 million requested. Columbia received $292,500, or about 43 percent of the total, for a future westward extension of Chapel Hill Road that will cost an estimated $2.5 million.

Home-grown harmony

Instead of perusing the produce section of the grocery store to select summer and fall vegetables, Sandra Abell and her son often head to the fields. Their destination: Terra Bella Farm in Auxvasse, owned by DeLisa Lewis and Holly Roberson.

“We enjoy visiting the farm and meeting the farmers,” said Abell, who attends special events at Terra Bella with her son. “The production of food is not an abstraction for him.”

Six hospitalized after I-70 crash

Six people were hospitalized Tuesday morning after a five-car accident on Interstate 70.

The accident occurred at about 11 a.m. on I-70 westbound at Hominy Branch Creek, about two miles east of the U.S. 63 interchange, and it closed I-70 westbound for more than an hour.