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Truckers unite for progress

Booths showcasing the latest in tires, truck beds and water-pressure sprayers lined the perimeter of the Columbia EXPO Center this weekend, standing small in stature to the 18-wheeled dump trucks that stood on display.

The 34th Annual Missouri Dump Truckers Association held its convention for the fourth year in Columbia, where dump truck owners and vendors gathered to browse, sell and discuss industry issues.

By George bar closes after losing its lease

A downtown legacy ended Saturday as By George dance club shut its doors after 25 years.

The closing comes just before the bar’s seven-day suspension for violations related to underage drinking was scheduled to begin. The suspension would have been in effect March 1 through 8.

Riding high

Every morning, Kim Krieckhaus pushes a wheelbarrow out of her garage. She stops, sets down seven buckets and carefully fills them with different mixes and different amounts of grain. Pulling her ear-warmer down over her ears against the bitter cold, she loads up the buckets and wheels through the sand arena and up to the outdoor paddocks.

Hungry horses whinny to greet her, the seven heads swinging from side to side as they follow her movements and wait for their morning feed. With a gentle hand, she strokes them good morning, delivers the food and leaves.

Lent does not make time easy

I apologize to all of you who celebrated your birthday this month (that includes one son, a daughter-in-law, my youngest grandson and a sister) but I hate February. I think that whoever decided to make it the shortest month of the year knew what he was doing. Oh sure, St. Valentine tried to distract us from the dull, dreary monotonous days with talk of love and hearts and flowers, but it’s only a momentary diversion. I have friends who walk around staring at light boxes to avoid depression. Others take to their beds to wait for spring. I go about my normal routine, but I’m in the state of perpetual grouchiness. Then to add salt to my wounds, Lent begins.

Being raised in a strict Catholic family (that means my mother was in charge) these 40 days and nights were to be spent fasting, abstaining and repenting. I never quite got the fasting part. I was told that two of the meals each day should not equal the third. The idea one patient nun informed our class was to experience hunger. Heck! I experienced it every day. I was always starving when I got home from school. The church has never pushed the fasting part of Lent, but my mother did. She told us that during Lent we couldn’t eat between meals. That was fairly easy between breakfast and lunch. I even made it until dinner, but going to bed without a snack really hurts.

Columbia Transit hosts hearing on proposed bus route changes

Columbia Transit held its first public information hearing on the proposed bus route changes Thursday night. A small group of residents attended the hearing to learn more about the route changes and discuss their concerns.

High court upholds concealed gun law

JEFFERSON CITY — Missourians won the right to carry concealed guns Thursday, but it’s unclear whether they will be able to do it anytime soon.

That’s because the Missouri Supreme Court said the state’s concealed weapons law could amount to an unconstitutional, unfunded mandate — a state-imposed program that requires county governments to pick up the tab.

Guilty verdict in local murder

After deliberating for less than three hours Thursday, a Boone County jury found Lucille Faith Duncan guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of her ex-boyfriend, James Pruitt.

During closing arguments, Boone County prosecuting attorney Kevin Crane stood near the bloodstained car seat Pruitt was occupying when he died and told jurors that Duncan, 37, showed “cool reflection and deliberation” in planning and carrying out the murder with her brother, Gerald Alan Duncan. He has been accused of shooting Pruitt as he sat in the front seat of Lucille Duncan’s car and is scheduled to stand trial for first-degree murder in April.

New city logo draws mixed reaction

Almost two years and $45,000 after it began, the quest for a new city of Columbia logo has ended. Framed as an attempt to capture the spirit of today’s Columbia, the Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes the logo will help attract people by representing the city’s “cosmopolitan appeal.”

At Tuesday’s unveiling, Mayor Darwin Hindman said, “Will people make fun of it? I hope they do. If people are talking about it, that’s good.”

Caucus turnout sparse

The way Democrats begin selecting delegates for its national convention is similar to the way a coach recruits players. But the legislative district caucuses held statewide Thursday night were lacking one key ingredient: warm bodies.

In Boone County, not enough Democrats turned out to fill the party’s roster, turning almost every caucus attendee into a de facto delegate. Caucus organizers said they were hardly surprised, especially considering the largely ceremonial role delegates have come to play in the presidential selection process.

Wherever it is, Missouri mirrors U.S.

In this presidential election cycle, where each state gets a primary spotlight, Missouri stands out because it’s average.

“As Missouri goes, so goes the vote for the national presidency,” said Walter Schroeder, a former MU geography professor who calls the state America’s bellwether. “No other state comes that close to being the nation’s average.”

Study: I-70 options hamper businesses

Plans to widen Interstate 70 to eight lanes through Columbia could cause many businesses to relocate and those that stay to lose significant numbers of customers, according to a consultant’s study.

The report by CH2MHill, a consulting company, described the potential impact of the I-70 project on Columbia businesses.

Experimenting with ecstasy

One little pill.

It is about the size of an aspirin and comes in a range of colors, including baby blue, frog green, canary yellow and plain white.

Experts predict a cougar comeback

Cougars are listed on Missouri’s endangered and protected species list, but new DNA evidence suggests the cats might be making a comeback. “An increase in trends leads us to believe the population will increase,” said Dave Hamilton, research biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

A preliminary necropsy done on a cougar killed last August in Callaway County indicated it had migrated to central Missouri from the West. DNA tests received last week from Central Michigan University provided more evidence that confirms the cat came from the wild in North America.

A nurse by heart

An African woman gives birth at a maternal HIV clinic in Cape Town, South Africa. Foreign doctors sweep her newborn away, and return shortly to tell her that her baby has died.

The mother accepts the news and hurries home to care for her four other children. She knows she must make the most of the time she has left — she has AIDS and no treatment is available.

Ambulance fleet grows with demand

University Hospital unveiled one of its two new emergency response vehicles Thursday.

The new ambulances, which are larger than the hospital’s existing vehicles and painted a different color, were received by the hospital Feb. 13 and are expected to be in use beginning next month.

High-level learning

Students involved in the Young Astronauts Club at Benton Elementary School finally found out what effects space would have on everyday materials when they visited the headquarters of the Columbia Aeronautic and Space Association on Thursday.

CASA is a student-run program completing its 16th annual aerospace simulation at Hickman High School. Thursday’s visit was the result of an exchange between the Young Astronauts and CASA students and involved a simulation of an actual experiment NASA launched in July 2001.

Boone County sheriff to hold off for now as ruling causes confusion

Despite Thursday’s ruling that upholds the constitutionality of Missouri’s conceal-and-carry law, Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm said he will hold off on issuing permits.

Boehm said he will follow the advice of Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, who suggested in the wake of Thursday’s ruling by the state Supreme Court that sheriffs should wait until lawmakers address whether the law imposes unfunded mandates on Missouri counties before issuing permits.

Faithful crowd supports ‘Passion’

On Ash Wednesday, as the sun beamed down on her open black-and-flowered umbrella, Carolyn Marshall stood in front of the Hollywood Stadium 14 Theaters and handed out free tickets to the 2 p.m. showing of “The Passion of The Christ.”

Marshall, a member of the Evangelical Free Church and a volunteer for the International Friends ministries, bought 64 tickets to the film in order “to share the Gospel” with interested international students, her acquaintances and any of their friends. She was among thousands of Columbians who attended opening-day showings, many of them sold out, of director Mel Gibson’s film.

Bill to ban racy billboards triggers debate

JEFFERSON CITY — State lawmakers are a step closer to taking sex off Missouri’s roadsides. A Senate ban on adult billboards cleared for final passage Wednesday.

Supporters say citizens are saddened by what has happened on Missouri’s roadways.

Bill to update Sunshine Law

JEFFERSON CITY — Under a new bill proposed by Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, any public governmental meeting conducted through electronic communication — conference call, video conference, Internet chat or Internet message board — would have to be made accessible to the public.

Missouri’s open meetings and access to public records laws constitute what is known as the Sunshine Law. Harris’ bill aims at broadening the Sunshine Law.

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