Associated Press | KBIA

Associated Press

Branson, Missouri, may be known for its country music shows and wholesome entertainment, but the tourist hot spot now finds itself at the center of a standoff over Confederate symbolism.

Protesters have been gathering outside a strip mall store Dixie Outfitters, which specializes in Confederate flags, clothing and other merchandise. The protests have drawn people from opposing sides of the debate — Black Lives Matter demonstrators, as well as those who support the store and the Confederate flag.

The Missouri Democratic Party is urging Republican Gov. Mike Parson to apologize for refusing to take any blame for a sharp increase in coronavirus cases since he lifted restrictions on June 16.

Parson said Tuesday that a governor can't take personal responsibility for any virus and he compared the disease that has killed almost 1,000 people in his state to the flu. He said no one would expect him to take responsibility if someone was involved in an accident on a Missouri road.

A monument in southeast Missouri honoring the Confederate States of America may soon be coming down.

The Cape Girardeau Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to remove and store the 12 1/2-ton monument.

Mayor Bob Fox had asked the commission for direction on the monument, which features a likeness of the Confederate flag and the initials “C.S.A.” It has been the subject of petition drives for and against its removal. The Southeast Missourian reports that the City Council will consider its removal on July 6.

A Missouri appeals court has reduced a talcum powder verdict against Johnson & Johnson by more than half, even while ruling that the company knowingly sold a product that caused cancer.

In the ruling announced Tuesday, the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals rejected the company’s request to throw out a St. Louis jury’s verdict that awarded 22 plaintiffs $4.7 billion.

The coronavirus has become so rampant in a small Missouri town that a Baptist pastor is re-closing his church that was shut down for two months earlier in the pandemic.

Noel sits in McDonald County in the state's far southwestern corner. When June began, the county had fewer than two dozen COVID-19 cases. Now, it has nearly 500.

Many are tied to a Tyson chicken processing plant in Noel, but the county health director says others in the community have also been infected.

More than 200 Sprint employees in Overland Park, Kansas, have been laid off since the company merged with T-Mobile.

The Kansas City Star reports a June 17 notification to state regulators shows T-Mobile cut 241 positions at the former Sprint headquarters. A judge approved a merger of the two companies in February and it became official in April. A T-Mobile spokesperson says the company plans to eventually hire 5,000 new workers across the organization.

Two women are facing charges after protesters began to paint “Black Lives Matter” in the street near a suburban St. Louis police department.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the arrests came Sunday night after multiple warnings during a protest in Florissant, Missouri.

Officials say about 600 patients seeking authorization to purchase medical marijuana in Missouri had their paperwork signed by a fake doctor.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in a news release that there is no evidence to indicate the affected patients were aware the physician listed was not the physician who met with them. The affected patients will be notified and given 30 days to submit a valid certificate before their license is revoked.

The sheriff of a rural Missouri county where a deputy fatally shot a woman is urging residents to “think rationally and not just with emotion,” writing that deputies’ home addresses are being circulated online and one deputy and his child have been threatened.

Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond issued an open letter Thursday on social media, calling for calm after the weekend death of 25-year-old Hannah Fizer following a traffic stop.  Fizer was unarmed.

Opponents of a Republican redistricting proposal on this year's ballot say it could allow some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country.

The proposed constitutional amendment seeks to reverse key parts of the 2018 “Clean Missouri” measure approved by voters. That initiative required state House and Senate districts to be drawn to achieve “partisan fairness." And it made Missouri the first state to adopt a specific formula known as the “efficiency gap” to measure fairness.

Tuition is going up at the University of Missouri’s four campuses in Columbia, St. Louis, Kansas City and Rolla after they took a financial hit because of the coronavirus pandemic. The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved the 2.3% tuition increase on Thursday. If enrollment remains steady, it will generated about $14.8 million. UM system president and interim MU chancellor Mun Choi described the tuition increase in a news release as among the lowest around the country. It is equal to the amount of inflation.

Unemployment in Missouri dropped slightly in May but was still nearly three times what it was before the coronavirus arrived.

Data released Thursday by the state Economic Development Department shows that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit 10.1% in May. That was down from 10.2% in April and was lower than the national May rate of 13.3%. It was higher than the state's 9.9% unemployment rate during the peak of the Great Recession. Unemployment was at 3.5% in February when the virus arrived.

Joblessness increased to 4.4% in March before it skyrocketed in April.

A grand jury on Thursday indicted a Kansas City detective on involuntary manslaughter in the shooting of a black man who was killed last year in his own backyard while backing into his garage.

Gov. Mike Parson has reopened Missouri, but some state buildings will remain closed to the public to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Parson said in a Tuesday Twitter post that Missouri moved into “phase 2” of his recovery plan after the state’s social distancing order expired on Monday.

The Governor’s Mansion and the state Capitol are still not allowing tours as of Tuesday. The Governor Office Building, which houses some state offices, was closed to the public on Tuesday, according to signs posted at the building’s entrances.

Missouri is reinstating requirements for unemployment and food stamps that had been waived because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers will need to comply with job search requirements to continue getting unemployment after July 4. The state also will start requiring families to verify that they're still eligible to get food stamps beginning July 1.

The Missouri Supreme Court is backing a large new hog farm despite concerns raised about pollution and smell. The court ruled unanimously in favor of the permit for Trenton Farms in Grundy County on Tuesday.

The Missouri Clean Water Commission originally revoked the permit. Then lawmakers passed a new law that enabled the governor to tip the balance of power on the Clean Water Commission toward agricultural interests.

After the board was stacked with members with ties to agriculture, it sided with the farm.

The Missouri town that became synonymous with the Black Lives Matter movement after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown will swear in its first black mayor Tuesday night.

Ella Jones defeated City Council colleague Heather Robinette, who is white, 54% to 46% to win the three-year term in an election on June 2. Term limits prohibited the incumbent, James Knowles III, from seeking a fourth term.

A statue of Christopher Columbus that stood in a St. Louis park for 134 years has been removed amid the growing national outcry against monuments to the 15th century explorer.

The commissioners who oversee Tower Grove Park recently voted to remove the statue, and park workers took it down Tuesday. The statue was loaded onto a truck, but it wasn't clear where it would be taken.

Authorities say investigators found no weapon in the car of a Missouri woman who was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy.

Hannah Fizer died Saturday night after being shot by a Pettis County deputy following a traffic stop. The Missouri State Highway Patrol initially said Fizer told the deputy she had a gun and threatened to shoot him.

Patrol spokesman Bill Lowe said Tuesday that investigators who searched the car did not find a weapon. He says no new information is available to explain why the confrontation escalated into a shooting.

The coronavirus is spreading beyond Missouri’s largest cities, fueled in part by outbreaks in meat packing plants and nursing homes.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the share of cases coming from rural areas now accounts for about 30% of the state’s new cases — a greater portion than ever before.

The seven-day average of daily new cases in areas of the state beyond the St. Louis and Kansas City metro regions, has generally been under 50. But since the middle of May, a gradual climb has pushed the pace to about 65 new cases a day. 

A rural Missouri police chief who was placed on administrative leave over inflammatory posts on social media was quickly reinstated.

Auxvasse Police Chief Kevin Suedmeyer was put on leave Thursday pending an investigation into his Facebook posts, including one that said people who stand in the street to block traffic deserve to be run over. After an emergency meeting on Friday, Suedmeyer was reinstated and given a verbal reprimand.

The Jefferson City News-Tribune reports as of Monday, questions about details of the investigation have not been answered.

Civil rights groups are asking the Missouri Supreme Court to allow all Missourians to vote absentee without a notary because of the coronavirus.

The father of a Missouri woman who was fatally shot by a sheriff's deputy during a weekend traffic stop says he doubts officials' reports that she threatened to shoot the deputy.

Hannah Fizer was killed Saturday night in Sedalia, about 90 miles southeast of Kansas City.

Her father, John Fizer, said Monday that his 25-year-old daughter never had a gun and supported law enforcement.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Fizer told the deputy she was going to shoot him, but it’s unclear if she had a weapon because her car hasn't been searched yet.

Missouri hospitals would be required to provide sexual assault exams whenever needed under a bill that Gov. Mike Parson is considering signing into law.

Fewer than 30 nurses are certified to perform the exams in the state.

Sen. Jill Schupp says that means some rape victims are turned away from hospitals or have to be driven hours away to get an exam. A bill she worked on would create a program through which specialists could walk uncertified nurses through sexual assault exams via videoconferencing.

A second man has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of retired St. Louis police Capt. David Dorn during a pawn shop break-in that followed a night of violent protests.

Mark Jackson is charged with second-degree murder, robbery, burglary, stealing and three counts of armed criminal action. Stephan Cannon was earlier charged with first-degree murder, robbery and other crimes. Both men are jailed without bond.

Dorn was killed June 2 on the sidewalk outside Lee’s Pawn and Jewelry.

As the St. Louis area begins to reopen more broadly after the coronavirus shutdown, new concerns are being raised about a rise in new cases in Kansas City.

St. Louis city and county have been under stricter guidelines because the area has seen the worst of the impact in Missouri of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. But things are starting to ease. Gyms and several other businesses that have been closed for several months were allowed to reopen Monday.

But in Kansas City, KCUR reported that the rate of new cases has increased every week since May 10.

A proposal to allow a black bear hunt in Missouri next year is drawing a lot of interest - mostly from people opposed to the idea.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is proposing a limited bear hunt in October 2021. It says the hunt is essential to managing the black bear population, which is growing and expanding its range. The department estimates between 540 and 840 bears live in the state. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports a majority of the more than 3,300 people who offered public comments on the proposal were against the hunt.

A rural Missouri police chief has been placed on leave over inflammatory Facebook posts about protests over the death of George Floyd.

The Jefferson City News-Tribune reports that Auxvasse Mayor Tom Henage announced Friday that Police Chief Kevin Suedmeyer was on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. Among the posts in question was one on May 31 in which Suedmeyer wrote that if someone stands in the street blocking traffic, that person deserves “to be run over. That will help cleanup the gene pool.” Calls to Suedmeyer’s home phone rang unanswered Saturday.

A Kansas City man who was prosecuted after filming two police officers who he thought were being too aggressive in their arrest of a black transgender woman is suing the city and the officers.

Roderick Reed was convicted of violating a city ordinance during the arrest in May 2019. Mayor Quinton Lucas pardoned Reed last week. Now Reed is suing for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. A grand jury indicted the officers for misdemeanor assault and prosecutors cited Reed's video when charges were announced.

A member of the Kansas City parks board wants the city to rename an iconic fountain and street that run through the city's County Club Plaza because they are named after a man who historians say was a racist.

The J.C. Nichols fountain sits in a park where protesters gathered last week to protest George Floyd's death. A parkway through the Plaza also bears Nichols' name. Nichols developed the Plaza and many affluent city and suburban neighborhoods but he barred minorities from living there.