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Convicted killer seeks new trial

The attorney for convicted “Ruby Tuesday Killer” Earl Ringo Jr. argued before the Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday that Ringo should get a new trial because his jury was not presented with evidence that he was mentally disabled.

Ringo, 29, of Jeffersonville, Ind., was sentenced to death in July 1999 for killing Dennis Poyser, 45, and JoAnna Baysinger, 22, during an attempted robbery of the Ruby Tuesday restaurant at 2010 Bernadette Drive. Ringo, a former employee, was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder for the July 4, 1998 killings.

Animal cases of West Nile virus jump statewide

The number of animals testing positive for West Nile virus has spiked over the past week. Gayle Johnson, MU associate professor of veterinary pathobiology, said that even though the mosquito season is waning, West Nile still poses a risk for both animals and humans.

Laborer in critical condition after fall

A construction worker was in critical condition Tuesday night after he and two other men fell when a steel building frame collapsed at the site of a future rail terminal in northeast Columbia.

To your health

Registered Nurse Eduardo Crespi draws a drop of blood on Tuesday for a hypertension screening and diabetes test during ‘Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day’ at Centro Latino de Salud, Educacion y Cultura. The center is part of Latino Link, which provides access to affordable medical treatment for Latinos, and is sponsored by the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health. This year’s ‘Doctor Day’ focused on Latinos, while last year’s reached out to the black population.

Mo. team to help prep for hurricane

Traffic surged Tuesday off the Outer Banks island chain as more than 100,000 people were urged to evacuate the North Carolina coast before the arrival of Hurricane Isabel.

Meanwhile, Missouri Task Force One sent a 32-member team to Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Tuesday morning to help with the potential disaster. The deployment is scheduled to last 10 days but could change with the severity of the storm.

Role of athletics remains in dispute

MU faculty members are concerned that the university might be involved in a game not worth playing, an “arms race” that is drawing money away from the academic mission of the university and into an increasingly commercial athletics program.

Chancellor Richard Wallace shares faculty members’ concern. He forwarded an MU Faculty Council resolution to colleagues in the Big 12 Conference and around the nation last week in an attempt to encourage discussion and cooperatively find a solution to a problem with its roots in athletics’ sometimes-conflicting roles within the university.

Proposal grinds to another halt

The fate of the controversial Grindstone Plaza development, which would put a Wal-Mart Supercenter on Columbia’s south side, remains uncertain.

After nearly three hours, the Columbia City Council tabled the rezoning of the controversial 53-acre Grindstone Plaza project proposal, which includes a Wal-Mart Supercenter and accompanying development along Grindstone Parkway.

School looks back, takes step ahead

Nestled in the residential 100 block of East Sexton Avenue, three-story John Ridgeway Elementary is an imposing structure. Here the roar of traffic on Providence Road is faint despite its close proximity. More dominant is the laughter of children playing during recess. It’s clear the brick building has been around for some time, long enough to have been designed to serve as a fallout shelter in times of war.

Built in two sections — one in 1923, the other in 1934 — the school will celebrate its 80th anniversary and dedicate its newest addition, a media center, tonight.

Group raises opposition to plans for development

A Springfield-based nonprofit group that provides support to independent businesses is lending a voice of opposition to proposed plans to build a new Wal-Mart in Columbia.

The Hometown Merchants Association met Monday with area business owners, urging them to form a Columbia chapter of the organization. Only four people attended the afternoon meeting with the group’s director, Donna Kennedy, who also spoke at Monday night’s City Council hearing on Grindstone Plaza, a 53-acre development in south Columbia that would be anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Increased paperwork gives county a bonus

Homeowners refinancing to cash in on low interest rates this summer unwittingly have bailed Boone County out of a sluggish year in sales tax and investment income, all thanks to fees collected by the Recorder of Deeds’ office.

Think of it as a bonus, County Auditor June Pitchford said. The income, expected to total nearly $1 million, is almost twice what the county expected from Recorder Bettie Johnson’s office when the fiscal year began in January.

Sheriff, police wary of gun law

A new law allowing Missouri citizens to carry concealed weapons is only a few days old, but Boone County Sheriff Ted Boehm is already worried that his department might not be able to handle the additional duties.

“I think there is a lot for us to do,” Boehm said. “I know our role is going to take more work than issuing the permits.”

‘Doctor Day’ offers free health services

When diagnosed with a chronic disease such as diabetes, most people wouldn’t think twice about scheduling regular doctor’s appointments. But the federal government is reminding people today that the best way to combat these diseases is to visit the doctor — even in times of good health.

“Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day,” a program that began two years ago, is being celebrated nationally today. The event is directed toward minority populations. A report by the Missouri Hospital Association shows that minorities have a higher rate of certain chronic diseases and as a result tend to have lower life expectancies than the rest of the population.

Utility costs to rise about $1.74

The Columbia City Council approved the final annual budget for the 2004 fiscal year on Monday night.

The budget of about $236 million is a 3.3 percent increase over the city’s 2003 amended budget.

Unlearning the junk food habit

Sitting on the counter at Main Squeeze, a natural foods restaurant on Ninth Street, is a petition calling for an end to junk food in public school vending machines.

Leigh Lockhart, owner of Main Squeeze, said that since she displayed the petition started by a Columbia group many people have signed. She thinks allowing the sale of junk food in schools contributes to the growing problem of Americans’ obesity.

Project spotlights Missouri women

A pilot literacy project sponsored by the Columbia branch of the American Association of University Women will be unveiled tonight at Field Elementary School.

The new curriculum, spotlighting the lives of 10 Missouri women, is being prepared by freelance author Carlynn Trout of Columbia.

New homes, new challenges

A small herd of cattle grazes in the pasture north of Brown School Road and a stone’s throw from a farmhouse that sits at the end of a winding driveway. Steep ditches, not shoulders, line either side of the gently sloping two-lane county road, and the stop sign atop the hill catches unsuspecting drivers off guard.

The oasis of country living, however, is now part of the city of Columbia, a target for the kind of growth that has transformed the northern fringes of the city over the past several years. At its Sept. 2 meeting, the Columbia City Council annexed and rezoned the 86-acre property, between Shalimar Gardens on the east and Crestwood Hills on the west. Owned by Forrest and Elizabeth Sappington, the land will be developed by PGS Development LLC. Plans call for as many as 150 single-family homes and 66 duplexes.

Superintendent sets new goals

In her third month leading the Columbia Public School District, Superintendent Phyllis Chase still has some empty bookcases and piles of papers and books on her desk. Busy as she is, she doesn’t have time to notice.

Fresh off two weeks of answering questions about newly released Missouri Assessment Program test results and less positive No Child Left Behind Act statistics, Chase stressed the importance of accountability.

Tomorrow hurt by ignoring today

This is the time of year when I once envied football fans. I thought it was pretty wonderful that they could so casually shrug off the cares of the world around them and throw themselves whole-heartedly into a sports contest. It seemed to me that it was a grand thing to be in such superb control of one’s emotions that they could be shifted to and fro at will.

Report shows minorities face higher risk for chronic disease

Chronic disease is the leading killer of Missourians older than 35, and blacks exhibit a much higher risk of suffering from some of these diseases.

The Missouri Hospital Association, in a report released last week, said chronic diseases — including heart disease, diabetes and cancer — accounted for 64 percent of deaths in Missouri in 2001.

Walter Williams honored

BOONVILLE — A forest green shroud flapped in the light September breeze. The stern lines of a bronze sculpture could just barely be made out beneath the cloak.

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