Paying property taxes made easier, if not painless

Boone County residents should soon be able to pay their property taxes online using electronic checks or credit cards.

Discover cards have been accepted for property taxes since 1996, and the county is adding Visa, MasterCard and American Express. The system also will let taxpayers meet their obligations with electronic checks.

A sense of belonging

Olivia Johnson joins a group of friends in the back yard of the Boys and Girls Club after school. Nearly every day, the group tries to complete the same task. Johnson and four or five other children try to jump in unison with one long rope while two adult mentors swing the ends.

“One ... two ... three ... go!”

Finding a need

In 1987, Donald Van Dyne designed a home specifically for a handicapped couple. Little did he know that 15 years later he would need the wider doors and hallways, lower light switches and a stair-less home for himself.

On March 23, 2002, Van Dyne had a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body.

Signs of speech

Marcus Leech is learning to break free from the isolated world of autism.

Every day is a challenge for 8-year-old Marcus as he struggles to communicate when he’s hungry or tired, said his mother, Kaori Leech.

P&Z OKs two-thirds of Philips proposal

After public hearings and debate that lasted into early this morning, the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission decided to recommend two-thirds of the controversial Philips farm development proposal for approval by the Columbia City Council.

The 489-acre plot southwest of Columbia was divided into nine tracts for zoning purposes, three of which were rejected. The commission did not approve tracts three and nine because members were uncertain whether the city would buy the land and convert it into a park. Members also narrowly rejected tract eight because project developer Elvin Sapp had proposed it have open zoning rather than more constraining planned zoning.

Finding a blessing

Seventy-five-year-old Janet Barnes accomplishes more in a day than some people half her age. That’s pretty good for someone who was not expected to live past her 14th birthday.

Barnes was informally diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 11, and for most of her life she has been dependent on crutches or her wheelchair for mobility. Yet she sees her circumstance as a blessing rather than a hindrance.

Eastward expansion

As the past several years brought an explosion of growth to north, south and west Columbia, the urban fringe east of the city quietly awaited its turn.

That wait is coming to an end. Government officials, landowners, developers and residents say the east side is bound to boom next, given its proximity to central Columbia, the extension of city sewer lines and transportation planners’ renewed push for an extension of Stadium Boulevard. Other features of the area — namely the access provided by Route WW and the existence of large tracts of land that are easier than small lots to buy, plan and develop — also make it appealing.

Floyd: ‘Oh yes, I’ve learned’

Last week, Elson Floyd said that he had no contact with Ricky Clemons after the former MU basketball player was hospitalized for injuries suffered during an accident July 4 at the UM system president’s house.

Floyd also said in a statement issued after recorded telephone conversations between his wife, Carmento, and Clemons became public that he did not encourage his wife’s relationship with Clemons and had advised her against it.

Columbia school officials seek outside help for summer classes

When the Independence School District turned to a private company to operate its summer school, enrollment in summer classes for elementary and middle school students doubled in the first year.

The Raytown School District near Kansas City saw summer school enrollments go up for three consecutive years under the management of the same firm, Newton Learning.

A centering influence

Once the bell rings on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at Blue Ridge Elementary School, the Ocampo brothers race outside and climb into a gray 15-passenger van.

The brothers, 10-year-old Freddy, 9-year-old Cristian and 5-year-old Ivan, are among 40 Latino children who participate in the after-school program at Centro Latino. The resource center has served the Columbia Latino community for three years. Children are picked up from school and receive help on homework from bilingual volunteers.

The custodian of Texas Avenue

Clutching a white plastic grocery bag in one hand, Betty Rose Northup bends down gingerly to scoop up a soggy newspaper with the other. Droplets from the steady November drizzle meander down the wisps of matted golden hair poking out from under her white hat.

“It’s a throw-away society,” Northup says as she fills the bag, her dog, Shadow, in tow. “People throw away dogs; they throw away babies.”

Support among loved ones

Clad in a dark green flight suit just like his dad’s, 4-year-old Jarod Farnham waved a miniature American flag and sang “I’m Proud to Be an American.”

According to his mother, Jarod wants to be a pilot when he grows up. But right now, he just wants to be near his father, Bruce Farnham, a pilot with the National Guard’s recently deployed C Company 1-106th Aviation Battalion.

MU fans finding no room at inns

Even with 3,600 tickets to the game still to be sold, Shreveport, La., has run out of room — literally.

Although Shreveport, a town of more than 200,000, has designated only 26 hotels for fans hoping to attend the Independence Bowl, all of the city’s 68 hotels are booked for the New Year’s Eve game.

Wounded wildlife

If it has fur or feathers, Dale and Deb Tolentino have probably cared for it.

The owners of D-D Farm Animal Sanctuary and Rescue make their livelihood by rescuing and rehabilitating animals.

Roberts to lead Life Sciences Center

More than two months after interviewing its final four candidates, MU’s Life Sciences Center has chosen its director.

MU Provost Brady Deaton announced Tuesday that R. Michael Roberts, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has been appointed director of the $60 million center. His appointment will be effective Jan. 1.

Philips farm plans take step forward

As long as the developer is able to address concerns about traffic and storm water runoff, Columbia’s planning department has recommended approving nearly all the plans for the 489-acre Philips farm in southeast Columbia.

Developer Elvin Sapp wants to put a mix of commercial, office and residential development on the land inside the environmentally sensitive Gans and Clear Creek and Little Bonne Femme watersheds. If approved in its current form, the development would be the largest in Boone County history.

Hanaway announces 2004 candidacy

JEFFERSON CITY — Speaker of the House Catherine Hanaway, R-St. Louis County, announced her candidacy Tuesday in the 2004 race for secretary of state elections.

Citing her experience as a securities lawyer in St. Louis and her time in the state legislature, Hanaway pledged that as secretary of state, she would create jobs for all Missourians who want them and restore the integrity of the election process.

Jefferson City tightens rules on smoking

JEFFERSON CITY — Another Missouri city has added its name to the growing list of places that ban smoking in restaurants.

Despite a loud outcry from restaurant owners, the City Council of Jefferson City voted 6-4 on Monday for a clean-air ordinance.

Senator proposes taxing illegal drugs

JEFFERSON CITY — Sen. Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, has pre-filed a bill targeting the bank accounts of drug dealers in Missouri.

The act requires drug dealers to pay a stamp tax on each gram of illegal drugs in their possession. The stamps would be purchased anonymously and be valid for three months.

Dealing with discrimination

One man claimed that a Wal-Mart supercenter failed to accommodate his disability and that a manager cussed him out when he complained.

Another complained that Gerbes employees accused him of shoplifting because he’s black and walks with a cane.