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Columbians, fearing loss of relatives, join tsunami relief efforts

A Columbia woman says her cousin in Sri Lanka is presumed dead and another relative has lost his wife and son.

Mihiri Udawatta said her cousin had gone for a swim in the sea with his friends when the tsunamis struck Sri Lanka, and he and the other swimmers were swept away.

Blunt predicts weak revenue will lead to cuts

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov.-elect Matt Blunt warned of widespread government cuts Thursday as he predicted “anemic growth” in the money available for Missouri’s next budget.

“This is going to be a challenging budget process,” Blunt said while outlining a state revenue estimate reached with lawmakers, “but we can surmount challenges.”

Islamic charity files lawsuit to free assets

The Columbia-based Islamic American Relief Agency filed a lawsuit Thursday against the U.S. Justice and Treasury departments. The suit was filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C.

The agency was listed as a specially designated global terrorist group by the Treasury Department on Oct. 13. Its offices, as well as the home of its executive director, Mubarek Hamed, were raided by federal officials the same day. The agency’s assets were frozen, and officials confiscated files, donor lists and other materials.

Traveling DNA lab

OWENSVILLE — With a population near 2,500, this Gasconade County town doesn’t often get opportunities to embrace the high-tech trappings of MU up close.

Located about 85 miles southeast of Columbia, Owensville isn’t hard to miss. But thanks to an MU mobile biological sciences laboratory, teachers and students in Owensville and dozens of other small Missouri towns are able to keep abreast of the latest developments in genomics, biotechnology and other life sciences through a traveling science road show.

County OKs plan to fight drug costs

In the coming months, Boone County residents could save an average of 21 percent on prescription drug costs.

The Boone County Commission voted Thursday to participate in a national pilot program that will issue discount cards.

City offers tips to reduce waste

After the shopping malls stop playing catchy Christmas tunes, and when living room floors are no longer covered in packages decorated with brightly colored paper and shiny bows, the question still remains — what to do with all of this stuff?

Columbia Public Works offers a few environmentally friendly solutions to the problem of too much stuff that many Columbians encounter during the post-holiday season.

Taste of winter warmth to last through weekend

After experiencing one of its coolest summers on record, Mid-Missouri is now experiencing an unusually warm winter.

Thursday’s high temperature of 68 was only 4 degrees shy of the record high set in 1965. The warm weather is expected to continue through Saturday, with temperatures in the upper 60s.

Rescue attempt fails to save dog in pond

Firefighters recovered a dog Wednesday that fell through the ice of a pond at 7071 Gillespie Bridge Road.

Andrew Cobb, who was the first firefighter to arrive, was secured to a life line, eased his way onto the ice on his stomach and made it to the edge of the hole where the dog was floating, said Division Specialist Gale Blomenkamp.

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 — MarineParents.com — 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.

Scientists seek bean resistant to disease

When disease threatened Missouri’s biggest cash crop, MU researchers realized they had to build a better, stronger soybean.

“Right now we really don’t have any practical way to treat (soybean rust),” said Paul Beuselinck, an MU adjunct professor of agronomy and a member of the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology, located in MU’s Life Sciences Center.

Slight rise seen for sheriff budget

Sheriff-elect Dwayne Carey says the 2005 budget for the Boone County Sheriff’s Department is not much different from previous budgets.

“We have everything in place,” Carey said. “What we have to do is continue the progress the sheriff and the administrative staff have been making over the last 20 years.”

Nasal vaccine for flu offered

Telltale flu symptoms — fever, cough, chills and muscle aches — are almost nonexistent to Boone County residents so far this year. Yet members of the Boone County Health Department continue to urge residents to receive their vaccination as the height of flu season approaches.

“We haven’t seen the worst of it at this point,” said Heather Baer, Boone County Health Department spokeswoman. “We really just want to let people know that it is not too late. There’s still time to protect you and your family.”

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