Site connects to Marines

Two years ago, Tracy Della Vecchia of Columbia launched a Web site for the families of Marines. Today, she spends up to 10 hours a day working on the site, helping thousands of people in what has become an online support group.

Della Vecchia said the Web site — — has 9,350 registered members, and she estimates it receives more than 4 million hits a week. The site has grown so much it needs a staff of 48 volunteers to maintain it.

Tsunami relief efforts gain momentum in Columbia

Columbia residents have donated $3,000 so far to the Boone County chapter of the American Red Cross to help tsunami victims in southern Asia.

After a slow start, the local Red Cross collected $2,800 Wednesday, said Jutta Hopkins, executive director for the Boone County chapter.

Family festivity on tap for city’s 10th First Night

Some people will choose to ring in the New Year by uncorking a bottle of expensive champagne, but for those looking for an alcohol-free community celebration, Columbia’s First Night might be just the event.

First Night offers a variety of entertainment, including puppets and storytelling for children, dueling pianists, five teen bands and Klezmer music.

Group pushes plan for state parkway

The Missouri Department of Transportation’s research to improve Interstate 70 is not enough, according to Scenic Missouri, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Columbia.

Scenic Missouri is pushing for an interagency study to build an automobile-only parkway that would parallel I-70. The proposed Lewis and Clark Parkway would be a four-lane highway that would take into account the natural geography of the land, said John Regenbogen, Scenic Missouri spokesman.

Packages offer safe celebration

During the 2003-04 New Year’s Holiday, the Missouri Highway Patrol reported 1,839 traffic accidents statewide, with 12 people killed and 762 injured. Fourteen percent of the fatal accidents were alcohol related and 7.7 percent of all accidents involved alcohol.

In Boone County, there were 40 accidents during the 2003-04 New Year’s holiday that injured 11.

Repairs continue at MLK Memorial

When the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was constructed near the MKT Trail 11 years ago, it cost about $130,000. It is expected to cost more than half that amount to fix the damages to the memorial.

Over the past eight months, improvements have been made toward restoring the memorial, located at the entrance to the MKT Trail off Stadium Boulevard.

New Jazz offers Cajun-Creole fare

Migrating north from the land of Mardi Gras, the flavor of Louisiana Cajun Creole has hit Columbia.

Jazz, a Louisiana Kitchen opened Dec. 14 and serves a variety of authentic New Orleans French Quarter favorites, including gumbo, jambalaya and house specialty, Chicken A La Mer.

Forum 8 installs stadium seating

Forum 8 has installed new stadium seating in two of its theaters. Forum is one of the latest theaters owned by Goodrich Quality Theaters to have stadium seating installed.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill to open Jan. 24

Romano’s Macaroni Grill is scheduled to open Jan. 24 on North Stadium Boulevard.

Bulldogs stroll into Columbia

One of Gonzaga’s best players may not be at 100 percent against Missouri today, but considering the level the Bulldogs have been playing at, that probably won’t be enough to slow them down.

A little more than a week after falling six points short of upsetting No. 1 Illinois, on Dec. 22, Missouri (6-5) will have another chance to play giant-killer as the Tigers host a hobbled Ronny Turiaf and No. 12 Gonzaga (10-1) tonight at 7 in Mizzou Arena.

Last opportunity for many Chiefs

KANSAS CITY — Brian Waters looks around the Kansas City locker room, and a feeling of nostalgia tugs at his heart.

The Pro Bowl left guard knows that with one game left in a bitterly disappointing season, he will soon say goodbye to a host of friends and teammates who don’t want to leave.

Martz dismisses Turley incident

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Kyle Turley, upset about a remark that the team hadn’t seen him since he re-injured his back in training camp, engaged in a recent shouting match with coach Mike Martz.

Turley has had little contact with the team since going on injured reserve in early August. Martz has said he had no success contacting Turley after the player left the team early in training camp to visit specialists about his back.

Bruins reach championship game

For the second straight game the Rock Bridge boys’ basketball team set a record at the Holiday Classic at William Jewell College.

In a 50-26 semifinal victory against Cameron on Wednesday, the top-seeded Bruins set the fewest points allowed mark, limiting the Dragons to 25 percent shooting and forcing 15 turnovers.