KASU

Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — The director of the Missouri State Parks division says he's been removed from the job without explanation.

Bill Bryan told The Springfield News-Leader (http://sgfnow.co/2ktFgTG) he was told Jan. 23 that his services were no longer needed. He says no explanation was given and he didn't ask for one.

Bryan was appointed by former Gov. Jay Nixon in 2009 to head the state parks department. During his tenure, the park system added seven new parks.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee motorists can try their hand at coming up with a winning safety message for the overhead message signs on the state interstate highways.

The state Department of Transportation says it's holding a contest again this year for a catchy safety message.

Last year's winning entries were "Turn signals, the original instant messaging"; "Get the cell off your phone and drive"; "Practice safe text. Don't do it while driving"; "You're in Tennessee. Volunteer to drive safe"; and "Ain't nobody got time for a wreck. Slow it down."

Pixabay

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Results from a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest economic conditions continue to improve in nine Midwest and Plains states.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released Wednesday says the overall economic index for the region rose to 54.7 in January from 53.1 in December. It's the highest figure since February 2015 and the third monthly increase in a row.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the increases point to an improving regional manufacturing economy.

Tribal representatives and environmentalists are promising an encampment similar to the ongoing protest against the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota to oppose the Diamond Pipeline planned from Oklahoma through Arkansas to Tennessee.

Mekasi Camp Horinek of the Ponca Nation and the Bold Oklahoma protest group said Monday there "definitely" will be an encampment in Oklahoma, but declined to say where or when.

Critics of the project say the pipeline threatens the environment, rivers and Indian burial grounds.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' U.S. senators aren't criticizing President Donald Trump's immigration restrictions as protests spread throughout the country, including in Little Rock.

Republican Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton issued statements Sunday regarding Trump's executive order that bans travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Cotton said it's "simply wrong" to describe the ban as a religious test, but he said there should be "proper procedures" for green-card holders and immigrants who have served alongside U.S. troops to enter the country.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A partner at a global management consulting firm who was hired as Missouri's first chief operating officer is set to begin his job of increasing state government efficiency next month.

The Springfield News-Leader (http://sgfnow.co/2jc9WZL) reports that the start date for Drew Erdmann is Feb. 13.

Press secretary Parker Briden wouldn't say how much Erdmann will be paid. Salary figures for employees of the governor's office are a public record, but not so for Erdmann as he has not yet officially started work.

UNION CITY, Tenn. (AP) — State officials say Williams Sausage Co. plans to build a second plant in Union City, creating 226 new jobs over the next five years.

In a statement, Gov. Bill Haslam and state economic development commissioner Randy Boyd say Williams Sausage will invest about $37 million to build a 180,000-square-foot facility in Obion County. It will include a cold storage distribution center, truck maintenance operations, corporate offices and a sandwich processing line.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on an Arkansas measure that would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

Planned Parenthood says it will support "any and all" efforts to defend its patients' rights after Arkansas enacted a ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is scheduled to release his second major priority item for the 2017 legislative session on Thursday.

Haslam's office says the governor will discuss his proposal before a visit to Cane Ridge High School in Nashville. A news release didn't elaborate on the subject of his announcement, other than to say it is part of his larger effort of "building and sustaining economic growth and the state's competitiveness for the next generation of Tennesseans."

A proposal to erect a satanic monument on the Arkansas state Capitol grounds has advanced to a public hearing.

A subcommittee of the state Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission on Wednesday cleared the proposal by the Satanic Temple to build a Baphomet statue. A date has not been set for the public hearing, but a spokeswoman said it'll likely be held after this year's legislative session.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Chief Justice Patricia Breckenridge is calling for a review of the way courts hold people in jail before trial.

In her final State of the Judiciary address Tuesday, Breckenridge told lawmakers that costly pretrial incarcerations affect poor people and have negative consequences for the individual and society. She says a Supreme Court task force will recommend changes to current practices.

Breckenridge also called for higher pay for state employees who work in courts.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas-based Windstream Holdings says it has eliminated 164 jobs, including 25 in Little Rock.

Windstream spokesman David Avery says the job cuts came from various areas, including engineering, finance and information technology. Avery tells the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2jNgATd) that Windstream has about 12,000 employees, including 1,450 in Little Rock.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas legislative committee has voted to outlaw an abortion procedure that opponents call "savage" and "barbaric" while others deem it the safest way to end a pregnancy in the second trimester.

The proposal by a legislator who is president of Arkansas Right to Life would ban dilation and evacuation, also known as a D&E abortion. The measure passed the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on a voice vote Thursday.

BEAVER CITY, Neb. (AP) — A man being held in a south-central Nebraska jail cell is awaiting a Jan. 30 hearing on returning him to face charges in Tennessee.

Furnas County Sheriff Kurt Kapperman said Thursday that 55-year-old Michael Parsons was arrested without incident Jan. 12 at the Arapahoe Airport. Kapperman says the FBI, working with Tennessee authorities, had tracked Parsons' cellphone to the area.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Airport, trucking and business officials all are urging Missouri lawmakers to change state driver's license laws to comply with federal identification requirements.

A Senate committee heard testimony Thursday on legislation that would allow two options for driver's licenses — one that complies with the federal Real ID act and another that doesn't.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A bill prohibiting mandatory union fees in workplaces is moving to the Missouri Senate after winning House approval.

The 100-59 vote Thursday by the House comes after Republican supermajorities made the so-called right-to-work law a priority for this year.

If the law passes, employees won't be required to pay union fees, even though the union may still be required to represent all employees.

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed on behalf of five people who say they were discriminated against while trying to take part in a Black Lives Matter demonstration at Elvis Presley's Graceland.

The protest coincided with an annual candlelight vigil held by fans at the singer's home on the Aug. 15 anniversary of his death.

Graceland owner, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and the city of Memphis are named in the complaint filed Wednesday.

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Renasant Corp. announced Tuesday that it's buying Metropolitan BancGroup for $190 million in stock.

The Tupelo-based bank says acquiring Metropolitan's $1.2 billion in assets will boost its market share, making it the fifth-largest bank in the metro areas of Memphis, Tennessee, and Jackson, Mississippi. Metropolitan has eight total offices, four in the Jackson area and two apiece in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A Pulaski County Circuit judge approved paying $29.1 million from a lawsuit settlement fund to more than 21,000 Marlboro Lights users and their attorneys.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2iIDrgI) reports the $45 million settlement fund was set up to end a 13-year-old lawsuit alleging that Philip Morris USA and parent company Altria Group misled smokers in Arkansas by advertising Marlboro Lights and Ultra-Lights were safer than regular cigarettes.

Wikipedia

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Latest on Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' State of the State address Tuesday (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

Republican legislative leaders are planning to get to work quickly on some of the priorities outlined by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in his first State of the State address.

In a nearly 40-minute speech Tuesday night, the new Republican governor said Missouri could grow its economy by limiting union powers and liability lawsuits against businesses, cutting state regulations and revamping its tax laws.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A contentious right-to-work bill to ban mandatory union fees is set to be debated by the Missouri House.

On Wednesday, the Republican-led House is expected to take up the measure for an initial vote of approval. A final vote to send the legislation to the Senate could come as early as Thursday.

GOP legislative leaders strongly support right to work. It's on the fast-track to passage now backers have support from the state's new Republican governor, Eric Greitens.

Wikipedia

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart plans to add about 10,000 retail jobs in the U.S. as it opens new stores and expands existing locations.

The world's biggest retailer said Tuesday that there will also be about 24,000 construction jobs as well.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says there will be 59 new, expanded and relocated Walmart and Sam's Clubs facilities.

 COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Ameren Missouri electric customers will now have to pay about $3 more on their monthly bill to support energy efficiency efforts by the utility company. The Missouri Public Service Commission says the charge will apply to the bills of 4,118 customers in Boone County and 1.26 million customers statewide.

Mike's Music News

Arkansas' Crawford named to House Intelligence Committee

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — President Barack Obama's administration has scaled back new safety measures for the sprawling network of fuel pipelines that crisscross the United States after oil industry complaints over the cost.

The administration has released long-delayed regulations for almost 200,000 miles of pipelines that transport oil, gasoline and other hazardous liquids.

The changes Friday include more rigorous inspections of lines in rural areas and new requirements for leak detection systems.

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