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Affordable holiday gifts to be found at church

Members of the community will come together Saturday as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program helps people buy gifts for the holidays.

Santa’s Gift Shop allows low-income children and families to buy Christmas gifts that cost between 5 cents and $5. Additionally, volunteers will be on hand to provide shopping assistance and free gift-wrapping.

Tree hunting

A narrow strip of woods opens up to reveal a log barn with a red tin roof. A patch of miniature trees sits near a homemade sign that reads: “Charlie Brown Trees, $5.” Green, bushy wreaths, each with a rosy red bow attached, hang on the porch.

The quiet setting, transformed into a flurry of activity on weekends, is Timber View Tree Farm, a 30-acre Christmas tree farm in Hartsburg owned by Daryll and Mary Lou Raitt.

Schools weigh lawsuit

The superintendent of the Columbia Public School District, Phyllis Chase, has issued a district recommendation to join a lawsuit that will attempt to change how school funding is distributed in Missouri.

The recommendation, included on the agenda for a Monday meeting of the School Board, states that the district should be “actively involved” in the efforts to “maintain district financial stability” and that the proposed lawsuit by the Committee for Educational Equality seems to be the “most effective” for the Columbia district.

Civic Orchestra concert to honor veterans

Patriotic melodies will echo through the halls of Columbia’s historic Missouri Theatre tonight to honor Pearl Harbor veterans and remember all those who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

The free concert by the Columbia Civic Orchestra starts at 7 p.m. Hugo Vianello will conduct.

An alert on health cuts given

Budget cuts are coming, possibly spelling trouble for Missourians in need of health care.

That was the message delivered by Dick Dunn, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, on Friday as he spoke to 10 nurses at MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing. Dunn’s appearance in Columbia was part of a 112-county speaking tour he’s been conducting since July to get the word out about the impending state budget crisis.

MU vies for agro-terror study site

Hoping to increase its chances of attracting millions of dollars in anti-terrorism funding to Columbia, MU played host to the Missouri Summit on Agro-terrorism on Friday.

Agro-terrorism is the deliberate importation of harmful pests or plant or animal diseases. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, this threat has become a top concern of U.S. anti-terrorism officials.

Holidays also bring hassles

It’s the little things in life that cause the most consternation. I have spent the last week putting up Christmas decorations and wrapping gifts, but I have had to overcome manufacturing obstacles.

In this day and age we can clone a pig, but no one has invented the perfect ornament hook. These malleable silver (and now gold) lengths of metal come in two sizes — long and short. The long ones are the easiest to find. As a matter of fact, I spent one whole afternoon looking for some short ones. They are an inexpensive way to attach ornaments to a tree, but first I have to deal with getting them out of the box. Some machine placed them neatly in the package, but I have to tear the cardboard away from the plastic and, once opened, the hooks don’t just spill out of the container. They become a ball of intertwined metal. I end up grabbing the pile and shaking it, which means, of course, that several hooks become dislodged and go flying across the room to become embedded into the carpet only to be found by bare feet or a vacuum cleaner. The short hooks are the best (that’s why I can’t find them in the store) and the long ones are a nuisance. Most ornaments come with a string attached, but I need a hook to place the decoration in the exact spot on the tree. Once the hook is attached, the ornament hangs 4 inches below the branch and is obscured by pine needles. I end up bending the hook around the branch to take up the slack. This method is very time-consuming and sometimes not very pretty with all that metal wrapped around the limb.

Faith in Song

Under the same roof that once sheltered a bar and a dance club, Pastor Fred Martie asks for a witness. He receives a rousing “Amen” from a congregation of about 40 people, and he tells them they have an opportunity to be blessed this night.

Then the music begins.

Taking the bait

For the past 10 years, Tony Flood has traveled to Bennett Spring State Park to fly fish for trout. Now, the Hallsville resident heads to Columbia’s Cosmo-Bethel Lake to pursue his hobby. This week he was fishing on his lunch break from a local construction site.

“They put some really nice trout in here,” Flood said. “Some weigh as much as 6 pounds, and some are 17 inches long.”

Malpractice deaths increase

Patient deaths and permanent injuries accounted for more than 66 percent of claim payments for medical malpractice in 2002, according to new data released Thursday by the Missouri Department of Insurance. Cases involving patient deaths increased 49 percent from 2001.

“This increase in deaths in one year is something we’ve never seen before,” said Randy McConnell, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Insurance.

Former college official arrested

A former Stephens College department head faces a felony charge of stealing. She is accused of using a school credit card for unauthorized charges or $25,000 or more.

Rita Worley, 43, former director of campus computing and telecommunications at Stephens, was arraigned Thursday afternoon in Boone County Associate Circuit Court and charged with a class B felony of stealing.

Kmart Closing

Some local retailers think that closing the 33-year-old Kmart store at 2001 W. Worley St. will help revitalize business around the struggling discount store.

While more than 100 workers will lose their jobs when the store closes in February, the move clears the way for two new franchise retailers to move into Columbia. According to KOMU/Channel 8 and the Columbia Tribune, Best Buy, an electronics retailer, and Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain, will move into the 103,000-square-foot building next year.

Second-grader wins bike for citizenship

Justise Keith nearly jumped out of his shoes when he heard his name called at West Boulevard Elementary School’s gymnasium. The second-grader beamed as he walked to receive his brand new bicycle.

Justise was one of 26 students receiving citizenship awards at this trimester’s Pride assembly Thursday afternoon. The children received the awards for good behavior, such as being helpful in school.

Commission approves housing proposals

The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission approved five different proposals at its meeting Thursday night. Total, the proposals could lead to the building of more than 800 housing units around Columbia.

The recommended proposals will now be considered individually by the City Council.

Church to show off renovations

When Calvary Episcopal Church holds its annual Advent Festival Bazaar on Saturday, it will use the occasion to show off its renovated parish hall as well as sell its popular “church mice.”

The community bazaar will feature gourmet and home-baked goods, a children’s shop and art room, books and crafts. There also will be a traditional ham breakfast. Proceeds from the bazaar will benefit outreach programs in Columbia.

Windows to liven up downtown stores

The windows of downtown Columbia will come alive from 6 to 8 tonight as part of a Christmas tradition.

Sixteen stores will be participating in the Living Windows Festival with themes such as Santa’s Helpers, A Christmas Carol, Nuclear Christmas and Hawaiian Holiday.

Lamb’s Jewelry to close up shop

Lamb’s Jewelry has been part of Columbia landscape for 60 years, but soon the building on Ninth Street between Lakota Coffee Co. and Main Squeeze will be empty. Lamb’s begins its going-out-of-business sale today at 10 a.m.

Dozens of silver watches fill the glass case inside the entrance to Lamb’s Jewelry. Antique clocks line the wall behind the case, and near the door sits a large grandfather clock. In a store where little has changed for 60 years, it is fitting that the hands on most of the clocks stand still. “It’s the end of an era,” said owner Terry Calcote.

Sleepover bandits mimic movie plot

Three men and a woman are in Callaway County Jail, charged with burglary, kidnapping and the robbery of the United Security Bank in Kingdom City.

According to the Callaway County Sheriff’s Department, a bank employee called police around 7 a.m. Wednesday to report that she and her family members had been held hostage overnight by four people dressed in camouflage and dark-colored masks.

Fruitful art

When Joe Lopez watches his family’s old home videos, he notices something special about his son David that he hadn’t considered until recently. “David was always off to the side with a pencil in hand, drawing pictures,” Joe Lopez said.

David Lopez, 12, always has been interested in art, but before this past summer he had never attempted to employ artistic principles. In fact, the Gentry Middle School sixth-grader has never taken an art class.

Mock botulism outbreak hones disaster response

If Thursday’s events had been real, more than 60 Columbians might have been infected with botulism, kept alive by beeping, whizzing ventilators because their bodies did not remember how to breathe.

The FBI would have been on their way. Cars would have clogged roads near local hospitals. The national media would have descended on Columbia in hordes while city officials tried desperately to squelch rumors before the city erupted in panic.

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