Downtown tour helps others eat

One of the greatest frustrations of getting together with a group of friends for a meal is picking a place to eat. Consensus is hard to reach when the members of the group each crave something different.

The Central Columbia Association is offering a temporary solution. On Thursday night, the organization is putting on its third annual “Dinner in the District,” where food enthusiasts will be able to sample menus from 16 of the 70 restaurants and bars in downtown Columbia.

On the big screen

Phyllis Ward came to the Missouri Theatre Monday night with a Popsicle to help fend off the sweltering heat. She had one goal in mind when she arrived two hours early for the screening of “Killer Diller.” Ward wanted to see herself on the big screen.

“When we were filming, the director said she was impressed with the way I rolled my eyes,” Ward said as she waited outside for the doors to open. “So I’m really excited; my sons and I are definitely hoping to catch a glimpse.”

City clerk certifies marijuana initiatives

Two initiatives to reduce punishments for misdemeanor marijuana possession took another step toward becoming law last week while a third initiative dealing with the purchase of “green” energy took a step back.

The two marijuana initiatives were certified by City Clerk Sheela Amin, but the energy initiative was 138 signatures short. However, it still has a chance to go before the Columbia City Council. Amin said petitioners had 10 days from the time they were informed of the shortage to collect the needed amount of signatures. The deadline is Sunday.

Users of 911 find language to be a hurdle

A Hispanic caller phoned 911 to report a fire at an apartment complex on Thursday, but what emergency personnel on the other end heard were strings of confusing, broken English. They knew the location of the caller but could not determine whether he had a police or fire emergency. Both departments were sent to the scene, said Donna Hargis, operations coordinator for joint communications.

When firefighters arrived they saw heavy smoke coming from the front window of the four-plex. However, they were able to determine that everyone in the building had escaped. Conversation with the occupants of the four-plex proved to be difficult, Battalion Chief Steven Sapp said.

Heating up Missouri

ST. LOUIS — A wave of steamy weather descending on Missouri has prompted forecasters to issue a heat advisory through today from the St. Louis area west to Columbia.

Mid-Missourians felt the sultry heat after a new daily rainfall record for Monday of 1.69 inches in Columbia, said Arno Perlow with the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

Rain destroys gate guarding bats

A heavy rainstorm in March caused extensive damage to the $50,000 gate erected at an entrance to Boone Cave to protect two endangered species of bats.

“It was one of those good old heavy Missouri rains,” said Tim James, a Missouri Department of Conservation biologist. “The damage was caused by a combination of the way the water and the debris were coming through the slots in the gate.”

Sheriff hopefuls share ideas, frustrations

Angela Ayers stood in the gathering hall of St. Luke United Methodist Church Monday night, watching men spar for her boss’s job.

“I just wanted to see what each one of them had to say; what their vision for the department is,” said Ayers, administrative assistant to Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm.

Carnahan endorses Holden in election ad

JEFFERSON CITY— Former Sen. Jean Carnahan is now appearing in a television ad supporting Gov. Bob Holden, lending one of the most venerated names in state Democratic politics to his re-election effort.

Carnahan invokes the legacy of her late husband, Gov. Mel Carnahan, while declaring in the TV ad that Republican state lawmakers have tried to “dismantle the important gains for children and families” that her husband supported.

Leslie gets probation for killing husband

An 83-year-old woman was sentenced Monday to five years’ supervised probation for fatally shooting her husband of 53 years in November.

Marjorie Leslie appeared in court for sentencing after pleading guilty in May to voluntary manslaughter. Phil Leslie, Marjorie’s son, took the stand to testify on his mother’s behalf, saying it was the “sincere belief and hope of my entire family” that his mother should be granted probation. He said his father would have wanted probation for his mother.

Reaching out to new veterans

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s efforts at informing veterans about their benefits have improved, but more work must be done to reach new veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gov. Bob Holden told a task force working on the issue Monday.

Holden also urged the group to focus on getting benefits to urban and minority veterans. The state budget includes $50,000 more for outreach this year, including a new position of minority veterans benefits coordinator, he said.

Hearing to address social services funds

The Boone County Community Services Advisory Commission will hold a public hearing today on its preliminary recommendations for how the Columbia City Council should distribute its money for social services.

The commission has recommended $843,350 be distributed to local agencies during fiscal 2005. The recommendation reflects a $21,550 increase over fiscal 2004.

Police seeking men involved in robbery

Columbia police are looking for two men who they say robbed the Midwest Petroleum Store, 111 Hitt St., at 12:20 p.m. Monday, according to a release.

The two men came into the store, showed their handguns and demanded money and other items, the release said. Employees gave them “an undisclosed amount of money,” and the two men were last seen running west from the market, police said.

3-year-old boy fires rifle at grandmother

WILDWOOD — A 3-year-old boy who found a loaded gun in his parents’ home accidentally fired a bullet at his grandmother, grazing her neck.

Nancy Fawcett, 65, was treated at a hospital and received 10 stitches, her family said.

Catfish 101

Brian Flowers believes the Missouri River is an underutilized resource for anglers, many of whom have never learned to fish the big river because it requires special equipment and tactics.

Flowers, an outdoor skills specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says many people prefer to drop their lines into smaller rivers, streams and lakes. But because of the rising popularity of catfish fishing, that trend may be changing. A proposal by the department would encourage an increase in larger catfish in the Missouri River, while Flowers is offering anglers a chance to learn the skills needed to fish the Missouri.

9/11 reforms seen as being ’substantive’

WASHINGTON — Working in secret, the Sept. 11 commission is finishing a final report that several members believe will be done by week’s end and have unanimous support.

The endorsement of all 10 commissioners is important if the findings and recommendations for improvements — most notably in intelligence-gathering — are to avoid charges of partisanship in a presidential election year.

Take time to enjoy simplest pleasures

Right up until the moment you heard the sound of horse hooves pounding against the pavement, you might have suspected from the current of excitement racing through the crowd that someone in the midst had won the lottery. Children were yelling and screaming, adults were clapping their hands and leaning forward to stretch their necks. Suddenly, the horses came into view, except they were not just horses; they were huge horses. They were the Budweiser Clydesdales and the crowd went wild. The eight gentle giants were followed by the red brewery wagon, weighing four tons with its smallest star, a Dalmatian mascot, riding on top. For a few moments, the part of the world where I was standing was a glad and joyous place where young and old alike shared a unique privilege.

I thought a lot about the experience of that evening and it didn’t take long for me to decide that we need a lot more moments like that. So often in this troubled world of ours we forget the little, simple pleasures that make for a meaningful life. I must have witnessed a thousand smiles in that brief expanse of time, more smiles than I see most of the time in a 12-hour day.

County water risk called low

Arthur Swope admits he was a little nervous when he received a letter from the Boone County Public Water Supply District 9 saying radium levels in the water exceeded maximum contaminant levels during 2003.

“It makes you wonder what’s going on,” Swope said.

11 seek to win nomination for treasurer

The August primaries are just around the corner, and money matters to the 11 candidates for state treasurer, whose numbers will be whittled to no more than three after Aug. 3.

Boehm endorsement surprises candidates

At Sunday’s grand opening of the Boone County Democratic Headquarters, Sheriff’s Capt. Dwayne Carey stayed toward the back of the crowd with his family. He remained humble in spite of a key endorsement.

Saturday, Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm changed his mind about not naming his choice for the Democratic sheriff’s candidate. He decided to endorse Carey.

Bridge over troubling traffic

For the more than 4,000 people who cross busy College Avenue between Rollins Street and Hospital Drive each day, the trek will be much safer beginning this fall.

Construction of a $4.2 million pedestrian bridge is scheduled to be finished by mid-August. The bridge will be located where about 60 to 70 percent of those crossing College Avenue chose to walk, according to surveys by MU Residential Life, main sponsor of the project, said MU spokesperson Christian Basi.