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Telemarketing plant closed

John and Shalloh Crandall got up early, dressed their 4-month-old son Joshua, and headed out to collect their final pay checks before filing for unemployment benefits.

The Crandalls lost their jobs on Tuesday along with 58 other employees who worked for Gannett Telemarketing Inc. They were told by the company two weeks ago that the new national do-not-call list approved by Congress would not affect their jobs, but the closure notice taped on the front door of the office told another story.

NAACP to look into local brawl

The NAACP has begun an investigation into concerns that a black man was the victim of a racially motivated crime in Columbia.

Mary Ratliff, president of the Columbia branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she has already gathered preliminary information for the NAACP’s investigation into the injuries Bill Donnell, 46, allegedly received during a fight with two white men on Sept. 28.

Council to reconsider Grindstone proposal

As of Monday, Columbia residents might know if they’re getting another Wal-Mart.

For the third time in two months, the City Council is set to rule on the 53-acre Grindstone Plaza development that would put a Wal-Mart Supercenter along Grindstone Parkway in south Columbia. Along the way, plans have been adjusted to respond to concerns of council members and neighbors.

Missing

Rodney Griffin’s family has been waiting more than 30 years for him to come home. At the age of 21, he left Centralia for Vietnam. He’d be 55 now, but he’s never aged in the memory of his brothers. They still hope and dream for the return of a young man.

Rodney was drafted in 1969 and sent to boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood. Afterward, he came home and married a girl he had dated in high school. He didn’t know that a week later he would receive his orders to leave for Vietnam. His family didn’t know this would be the last time they would see him.

Spiritual growth

Through the double doors of Forum Boulevard Christian Church, there is a sign-up center for visitors on the right and a brightly colored map of the world on the left — on the one hand welcoming newcomers and on the other displaying the church’s mission outreach beyond Columbia.

Sixteen flags from around the world decorate the walls of the church’s eight-sided sanctuary, where every Sunday an average of 800 congregants over three services listen to the Rev. Max Jennings.

Mussels to muscles

Sue Bruenderman places her fingers on Bailey’s face and scrunches it up like putty. Not only does 12-year-old Bailey not mind, she’s completely relaxed and seems to enjoy the massage.

  “This is a massage I invented,” Sue says. “All dogs seem to love to have their whole face squished. If you’ve had someone do it to you, you know it feels great. Your face holds a lot of tension.”

Collecting can sneak up on you

I never realized that I was a collector until my husband told me to stop. And looking around my house, I think he told me a little too late. I never had a collection of anything as a child. I liked variety. But somehow, throughout the years, I took up the hobby without really knowing it. Now I have a dozen different collections, and I don’t know what to do with them. My husband said it’s time to start thinking about downsizing (No, we’re not selling the house). He says there’s no place left to display a thing. So he wants me to get rid of the stuff I don’t collect anymore.

Starting in the attic, I have box after box of crafts that were made by my children and grandchildren. Throwing these priceless pieces of art away is akin to burning the flag. It’s almost sacrilegious. I also have kept letter jackets, military uniforms and all the term papers (at least the ones that had passing grades), certificates and assorted junk that my kids neglected to take when they left home.

Plan would make for bigger fish tails

The Missouri Department of Conservation is considering creating a trophy area for flathead catfish in a stretch of the Missouri river from Glasgow to Jefferson City.

The department first proposed making anglers throw back any flatheads smaller than 30 inches caught in that area, which includes Columbia. But after a public debate in Columbia on Thursday, state officials say they might consider trading a less stringent length regulation for an increase in the area the regulation would affect.

Code Orange

The road through the river bottoms near Hartsburg passes rows of dried cornstalks and soybean plants. Amid the expanse of crops that suffered through the summer drought are fields of green dotted with bright orange.

Six weeks ago, Jo and Norlan “Hack” Hackman worried that their pumpkin crop also would suffer. There was a lot riding on the outcome: This year, the Hackmans became the sole providers of pumpkins for the annual Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival, which attracts thousands of visitors.

Abortion law block sought

Planned Parenthood executives expect to request an injunction today to block Missouri’s new law requiring a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions.

In addition, Planned Parenthood officials expect lawyers to file a federal lawsuit in Jefferson City challenging the law after the Missouri Senate overrode Gov. Bob Holden’s veto of the measure last month.

Director of utility to retire

After 24 years of service to the city, Water and Light Director Richard Malon has decided to retire, effective Jan. 9.

“I’m 65, and it is time to retire,” Malon said Thursday. “But it’s a good time to make a change. The utilities are in good shape, and I feel good that whoever is going to come in to take over will be able to keep on very nicely.”

Coalition challenges sewer plan

A growth watchdog group is challenging the city’s plan to spend millions of dollars to extend sewer lines into new areas, arguing it promotes urban sprawl.

The money to improve and extend the sewer lines — $18.5 million — would come from one of two bond issues to be included on the Nov. 4 ballot. The other is a $28.3 million bond for water projects.

Eyes to the skies

Call him crazy, call him a space geek—Doug Kniffen probably won’t mind. He says he’s felt the sky pulling at him like a magnet since he was four years old.

Kniffen, 43, built his own backyard observatory and has enough money invested in the star-gazing hobby to buy a mid-sized car.

Grant will pay to train poll workers

Change is in the air for Missouri voters — and poll workers.

In the next few years, touch-screen technology will be required at polling places in all Missouri counties as an option for handicapped voters and anyone else who wants to use it.

Mo. top judge issues call for more diversity

The first black chief judge of the Missouri Supreme Court said Thursday that, while the state has become a judicial trendsetter for the nation, more needs to be done to diversify the practice of law in Missouri.

In a keynote address at the Missouri Bar Association’s annual meeting in Columbia, Chief Judge Ronnie White said equality in the legal profession cannot be measured by numbers alone, but rather “when equality of opportunity for both entry and advancement exists in every corner of this state.”

Living in the past

For 40 years, Richard Gaffney has lived in the past. “I don’t live in this century, you see. I just visit from time to time,” Gaffney said.

His fascination with the history of American Indians extends beyond passive research into the realm of active participation.

Belly up and register to vote

Voting registration was a reason to party Thursday night at Spanky’s bar in the Holiday Inn Executive Center.

Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton and County Clerk Wendy Noren were there to help promote voter registration to patrons and employees.

A tale of two counties

If groups such as the Citizens for Rural Conservation had their way, Boone County, Mo., would have more in common with Boone County, Ill. than just a name.

At a Thursdsay meeting addressing concerns about urban sprawl, David Sliktas, a former planner with Boone County, Ill. outlined a process his county used that helped preserve 60 percent of farmland in his community. Area citizens hope Boone County, Mo., will follow in its footsteps.

Twist found in new gun law

Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm has made it clear that he’s not a fan of the new conceal-and-carry gun law. After reading through it, he found a section that makes him like the law even less.

Mental health efforts expand

JEFFERSON CITY — Every week, people in Missouri struggle with the decision between keeping custody of their child or seeking the best mental health care for him or her. Two of Missouri’s government agencies are working to avoid that decision.

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