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.

Higher Learning

Heather Hogan watched patiently as Rodolfo, a sixth-grader in Los Angeles, filled out her classroom evaluation. Even though the summertime class had ended, Rodolfo was diligently writing answers to the 20 questions. When he finished, he walked up to Hogan and shyly handed in his survey.

“Ms. Hogan, I didn’t know what to write for number 12 about how to improve our school,” he said. “I just wrote about picking up trash.

MU not big supplier to top graduate schools

Among the multitude of brochures available at the MU Career Center is one that asks students to “Imagine Stanford Graduate School of Business.”

But MU students with such ambitions are often left imagining, according to the results of a survey published last Friday in the Wall Street Journal.

Guns not allowed on buses

JEFFERSON CITY — Two leading legislative supporters of concealed weapons say they would not try to block efforts by cities to ban hidden pistols on buses and other transportation systems.

Columbia Transit and Para-Transit does not allow weapons on buses. Procedures will not change after Oct. 11 when the concealed weapons permits are issued, Columbia Transit supervisor Mark Grindstaff said.

Reach of ban under debate

A proposal to prohibit concealed weapons on county-owned property produced disagreement among Boone County commissioners Tuesday night.

The order would have gone into effect with Missouri’s new concealed gun law on Oct. 11. Existing policy bans weapons on county property but does not specifically mention concealed guns.

Campuses bar guns throughout

Despite Missouri’s new concealed-weapons law, it will still be illegal to carry a gun on Columbia’s college campuses once the law takes effect later this month.

Guns are not allowed on MU’s campus unless they are stored with the University of Missouri Police Department, said MUPD Interim Police Chief Jack Watring.

Language arts

It’s 7:30 a.m., and the halls of Rock Bridge High School are filling up with students who are talking, finishing breakfast and running to their lockers. Teachers prepare for classes.

Helping after the hurricane

As Hurricane Isabel stormed toward the Atlantic coast, Jarrett Yehlen lay in bed at his Columbia apartment, unable to sleep. He wasn’t sure how badly Isabel would strike his hometown until his mother called him just before Isabel hit land:

“Jarrett, I’m preparing myself emotionally to lose everything.”

MU research gets boost

MU has won almost $17 million in federal grants to build and operate a one-of-a-kind center for swine genetics research and a regional biosafety lab, the university announced Tuesday.

The grants — about $10 million for the swine research center and almost $6.8 million for the biosafety lab — come from the National Institutes of Health. Last year, the NIH was the single biggest contributor of federal dollars for MU research: $44 million out of $106 million in federal funding, said MU spokesman Christian Basi.