Radio consolidation hits home

Last July, at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on media ownership, Arizona Sen. John McCain questioned Cumulus Media Inc.’s president Lewis Dickey about the company’s decision to ban the Dixie Chicks from its 50 country radio stations.

“This is remarkable,” McCain said to Dickey on July 9. “You restrained their trade because they exercised their free speech.”

Bond bill delayed in committee

JEFFERSON CITY — Amid accusations of regional divisiveness and pork-barrel politics, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday delayed action on a bond aimed at higher education construction projects by at least two weeks.

Most of the projects in the now $350 million bond bill directly involve University of Missouri system campuses.

Poor miss out on food aid

Many low-income households do not take full advantage of food assistance available to them in their communities, according to a new study conducted by two MU researchers.

The study, conducted in the Kansas City metropolitan area from 1998 to 2001, indicates that although many low-income households qualify for both federal and private food assistance, few use both simultaneously.

Trial team heads to nationals

It was not Professor Plum in the billiard room with the candlestick this time, but rather Michael Harmon in the ice arena with a hockey stick.

Harmon, a pro hockey player, was angry in the days leading up to playoff game in which he would face rival player and rising star Tony Sturmanis, the same man he had learned was having an affair with his wife.

State leaders struggle to find funding for waste cleanup

Looking out for Missouri’s environmental health is a contact sport, especially in the case of hazardous waste cleanup.

Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources last year worried that the fees they collect to cover the state’s share of cleanup costs would go the way of the dinosaur — like the newly expired waste-tire collection fee did earlier this week. Their concern centered around debate within the legislature about how to most equitably assess the waste-disposal fees.

Help available for taxing paperwork

Tax season is here, bringing sounds of paper shuffling, pen scribbling, computer keys clicking, and frustrated taxpayers sighing. Here are some places to go to make the task a little easier.

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Suspects to be tried as adults

The two men charged in connection with the murder of Kent Heitholt, former sports editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune, will be tried as adults, Boone County prosecutor Kevin Crane said at a press conference Thursday.

Ryan William Ferguson and Charles Timothy Erickson were 17 at the time of the crime. Ferguson has been charged with first-degree murder and Erickson with second-degree murder. Both have also been charged with first-degree robbery.

Fingerprints sticky issue in gun permits

JEFFERSON CITY — At least 220 Missourians had applied as of Wednesday for concealed gun permits, but state law enforcement officials declined to reveal how many had passed background checks because of uncertainty over whether that information must be kept secret.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol, which helps process the state and federal fingerprint checks required under the concealed guns law, has received applications from numerous counties led in quantity by Audrain, Lincoln and Phelps, said spokesman Capt. Chris Ricks.

State debates budget limit

JEFFERSON CITY — Another limit on Missouri state government spending would be put in place by a measure under consideration in the House.

The measure is expected to be debated today.

Tradition of talent

Five minutes. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Megan Larsen regrets wearing a black shirt today as she sweats because of the studio lights. She and her Stephens College classmates are taping a three-minute video called “Meet Your College Neighbor.”

This is the first time the Introduction to Broadcast Production class has worked together on the ungraded project. Larsen is waiting for her classmates to get it together.

Bill would penalize people for being high

Missourians under the influence of drugs could be arrested for being high if a proposed House bill is passed.

Reps. Brian Baker, R-Belton, and Therese Sander, R-Moberly, proposed House Bill No. 983, which would make it a Class A misdemeanor to be under the influence of a controlled substance. Current law prohibits only the possession, purchase, distribution or manufacturing of a controlled substance.

911 service enhanced by digital mapping

The office that handles emergency dispatching for Columbia and Boone County has added real-time digital mapping to its arsenal of blinking and beeping gadgetry, integrating yet another expensive piece of equipment into a system that relies more on high technology than some might think.

The mapping program is the latest in a quickly evolving line of emergency tracking gizmos that help dispatchers pinpoint and display the origins of 911 calls, even if they come in on cellular phones. The whole package cost $197,000, about $161,000 of which came from the county’s phone bill surcharge for 911 service. The rest was covered by a grant from the Public Safety Foundation of America.

New technology can pinpoint calls

The new mapping system employed by Columbia/Boone County dispatchers could not have authenticated an infamous autumn call reporting that a helicopter had gone down in a rural area, said Jim McNabb, director of the dispatch agency, but it would have helped them quickly pinpoint the origin of the call.

In early October, dispatchers received a cell-phone call from an area west of Columbia claiming a helicopter had crashed. Rescuers combed the area for more than two days before calling off their search.

Identifying Cedar Ridge

Sarah Darr loves cartoon monkeys and has been saving her money to decorate her room with “monkey stuff.” Instead of spending the money she received on her ninth birthday to buy wallpaper and pillows, however, she bought the letter “C.”

Cedar Ridge Elementary School’s student council of fifth- and sixth-graders has decided to get the school’s name on the front of the their building, which is now bare.

Skepticism greets UM merger

JEFFERSON CITY — Leaders of Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Missouri system sought Tuesday to persuade lawmakers that a merger of their institutions would spawn academic and economic improvements.

But the first legislative hearing on the proposed merger revealed skepticism among some senators as to whether the schools had the commitment to make the marriage work, and whether the union would damage the state’s relationship with its other universities.

Forum questions science reporting

Sensational news media coverage is contributing to an unrealistic view of the power of human genetics, said Peter Conrad, a speaker at a two-day conference sponsored by the MU sociology department.

This was just one of many issues raised at the Symposium on the Social and Cultural Implications of Human Genetics, which was held Monday and Tuesday at MU’s Memorial Union.

Campaign aims for smoke-free dining

The Columbia/Boone County Board of Health plans to start an educational campaign with the Boone County Coalition for Tobacco Concerns in hopes of having more restaurants voluntarily become smoke-free.

“If you start looking into the facts of second-hand smoke, it’s hard to believe that people knowing the facts would want to continue to have secondhand smoke in their place,” said Chris Coffman, public health planner for the Columbia/Boone County Board of Health and member of the Boone County Coalition for Tobacco Concerns. “I think we have an intelligent, caring community and once education starts, I would expect results like that from Maryville.”

Man pleads guilty to July 5 murder

Gerald Alan Duncan, 43, pleaded guilty on Monday to second-degree murder and armed criminal action for the shooting death of James Pruitt on July 5.

In a plea agreement, Duncan received a life sentence with parole and 10 years for armed criminal action. He is required to serve a minimum of 251/2 years to be eligible for parole, said Kevin Crane, Boone County prosecuting attorney.

Image of black Greek houses is focus of forum

Once upon a time, when hip-hop music was “old school,” rapper Ice-T rhymed ominously about the perils of gang warfare over “Colors” in South Central Los Angeles. Those streets, hopefully, would be a far cry from the atmosphere of most college campuses.

Based on this notion, MU’s chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., decided to enter the fray and ask, “Have Black Greeks Become Gangs?” to an audience of at least 100 students and Columbia residents Tuesday evening.

Physical therapists could help animals in proposed bill

JEFFERSON CITY — An effort to help pets brought a former manager of the St. Louis Cardinals to a committee of Missouri legislators Tuesday.

Whitey Herzog, who led the Cardinals to a World Series championship in 1982, testified in favor of a bill that would let licensed physical therapists provide rehabilitation to animals without requiring a veterinarian be present.