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(Branson) (AP) – The Missouri Conservation Commission has approved a nearly $1.2 million contract to design a new nature center to replace the small visitor’s center at Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery.

The design contract was approved last week. A Missouri Department of Conservation official said the nature center should be finished and open to the public by 2017.

“The existing visitor center is very small and 30-plus years old,” said Jacob Careaga, design and development chief with the state agency. “It will be about similar in size to the Conservation Nature Center in Springfield but with more of an aquatic theme because of its location next to Lake Taneycomo and Table Rock Lake.”

The new building will include live fish and animal exhibits and auditorium space, the Springfield News-Leader  reported.

The new building, estimated to cost between $6 and $7 million, will be paid for with funds from a statewide conservation 1/8-cent sales tax and revenue from fishing and hunting licenses.

Missouri officials say the 2,500-square-foot visitor center, built in 1979, outgrew its ability to handle the large number of tourists and residents who stop by to learn about the fish hatchery, feed trout and walk on nearby trails.

Up to 215,000 people visit each year, Visitor’s center staff member John Miller said, but noted that a study conducted from July 2012 to June 2013 showed 308,000 people visited the center during that time.

The hatchery grows about 1.2 million rainbow and brown trout a year, and 700,000 of those are placed in Lake Taneycomo annually.

by Jim Salter
Associated Press

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2014 file photo Police and Missouri National Guardsmen stand guard as protesters gather in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 ended the state of emergency for unrest in the St. Louis area related to the grand jury announcement in the Ferguson case, lauding the efforts of police and the Missouri National Guard for preventing any loss of life.  (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2014 file photo Police and Missouri National Guardsmen stand guard as protesters gather in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 ended the state of emergency for unrest in the St. Louis area related to the grand jury announcement in the Ferguson case, lauding the efforts of police and the Missouri National Guard for preventing any loss of life. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

(St. Louis) (AP) – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday ended the state of emergency that he declared for the St. Louis area ahead of unrest over the Ferguson grand jury decision, praising the work of police and the National Guard in preventing any protest-related deaths.

He issued his executive order on Nov. 17. Protests, including some that turned violent, broke out on Nov. 24 after St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that the grand jury wouldn’t indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who is white, for the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old. Wilson has since resigned from the department in the St. Louis suburb.

“I want to thank state and local law enforcement, the leaders of the unified command, and the members of the Missouri National Guard for working tirelessly to protect the public,” Nixon said in a statement. “As the hard work of healing and rebuilding continues, the fact that not a single life was lost as a result of the unrest is a credit to the hard work and dedication of these brave men and women.”

On the night of the grand jury announcement, 700 members of the Guard were deployed in the St. Louis region. Nixon sent in 1,500 more troops after some of the unrest became violent that first night and led to looting and fires that destroyed 12 Ferguson-area businesses.

After deployment of the additional troops, scattered violence erupted the night of Nov. 25.

Protests continued in the following days but the violence ceased as local and state police stayed in charge of crowd control and the Guard protected buildings.

The actions of police have been widely criticized, with protesters and others saying officers were too quick to arrest peaceful demonstrators and displayed tactics that were too militarized.

Alexis Templeton, a 20-year-old college student and co-founder of Millennial Activists United, said Nixon sent the large number of Guard members and police officers to “instill fear.”

“I feel he was trying to run the narrative that protesters were dangerous,” she said Wednesday.

Templeton was among about 75 people who marched from St. Louis police headquarters to St. Louis City Hall – a frequent target of activists – to protest how police handled demonstrations related to the Brown shooting. They also claimed police have been intentionally targeting demonstration leaders for arrest.

Their protesting led to City Hall being quickly shut down. The closing affected office workers and citizens attempting to do city business. The city also canceled several public meetings scheduled for Wednesday.

“They have been changing up the tactics,” said Derek Laney, a community organizer charged with assault on a law enforcement officer who accused him of accidentally making contact while falling to the ground at an earlier City Hall “die-in” demonstration. “They want to intimidate us, they want to smear our names. They’re attempting to paint a picture to promote a narrative of violence.”

Several members of the city’s Board of Aldermen joined protesters outside the building in support of their efforts to gain entry. No arrests were reported and the protest was peaceful.

“This is a public building,” Alderwoman Megan Green said. “We support your right to be here.”

The Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation related to the Brown shooting. It’s not clear when those findings will be released.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Gov-elect Asa Hutchinson has announced that state Rep. Allen Kerr will be the new state Insurance Commissioner and Sheila Sharp will remain as director of the Department of Community Correction.

Hutchinson cited Kerr’s experience in the Legislature and knowledge of the insurance industry. He said Kerr will bring a “fresh look” to the department.

Kerr will replace current Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford.

Hutchinson also praised Sharp for her work as director of community correction. Sharp has more than 15 years of experience in the state prison system and has been director of the Department of Community Correction since August 2013.

Hutchinson was elected governor in November and will take office in January.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Gov-Elect Asa Hutchinson has named Brigadier Gen. Mark Berry of Ozark as the new Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard.

Berry is currently chief of staff for the Arkansas Air National Guard. Hutchinson’s office said in a news release that this is the first time in memory that the Arkansas Adjutant General has been appointed from the Air Force.

Berry has more than 40 years military experience, having enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1974.

Berry will replace Major Gen. William Wofford as the leader of the Arkansas National Guard.

(West Plains) – A Willow Springs man has pleaded guilty to charges of sexual misconduct.

Robert Turnbull was arrested by the Willow Springs Police Department on Friday, August 15 and was charged with four counts of statutory sodomy. Turnbull is accused of having sexual contact with a female child less than 14-years-old between June 1 and July 18 of this year.

Court documents state that Turnbull pleaded guilty to the charges on Tuesday, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Judge David Evans.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Health care plans would have to cover eating disorder treatments under proposed Missouri legislation.

State Sen. David Pearce of Warrensburg recently filed a bill requiring coverage for diagnosis and medically necessary treatment of the disorders. Coverage would include specialist services recommended by a patient’s treatment team.

Under the measure the Department of Insurance would be required to make an annual report to lawmakers regarding those insured and treated for eating disorders.

(Jefferson City) – Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich says that the Missouri Department of Agriculture received high marks on a recent audit.

In the areas audited, the overall performance of this entity was Good, which is the highest ranking it can receive.

The MDA provided significant salary increases to six employees during fiscal year 2013 and four employees during fiscal year 2014, representing an annual total increase in salaries of $51,864 (ranging from six to 20 percent for these employees).

As noted in a prior audit, various program fees of the MDA do not cover the related costs of the program, forcing the programs to be more dependent upon funding appropriated from the General Revenue Fund. Some program fees have not been adjusted in more than a decade.

To read the full report, visit auditor.mo.gov.

Joleen and Brian Durham stand with pints of their award winning beers in front of the BARn—the current production facility and tasting room of the farm-based brewery. (Jason Jenkins/provided)

Joleen and Brian Durham stand with pints of their award winning beers in front of the BARn—the current production facility and tasting room of the farm-based brewery. (Jason Jenkins/provided)

(Bucyrus) – Piney River Brewing will soon be available to more craft beer fans across the Ozarks after the completion of a $1.2 million expansion that began this week at the Bucyrus, MO farm-based brewery.

The expansion includes a 12,000 square foot barn located near the current “BARn” production facility and tap room.

The new building will house a custom built 15-barrel three-vessel brew house, four 60-barrel fermentation vessels and two 60-barrel bright beer tanks, and a Series Three eight-head automatic canner.

This expansion is the third expansion since the company opened its doors in March 2011 as a nanobrewery, brewing 10 gallons of beer at a time. The brewery was also the first microbrewery in the state of Missouri to can beer on site in November 2011.

Piney River is on track to produce 1,800 barrels of beer in 2014, having produced 1,100 barrels in 2013 and 525 barrels in 2012. The new brew house and cellar will give Piney River the capacity to brew up to 9,000 barrels, with room for additional growth. The new equipment is slated to come on line by May 2015.

In October 2013 Piney River won a Great American Beer Festival gold for their Old Tom Porter, followed in April by a World Beer Cup gold for their Float Trip Ale. Both beers were seasonal brands until they claimed top accolades in their style.

Currently the brewery is distributed in all of central and southern Missouri and in Arkansas.

For more information on Piney River Brewing visit their website at www.pineyriverbrewing.com.

(Reuters)

(Reuters)

(Washington)- Last week U.S. Missouri Senator Roy Blunt went before the U.S. Senate floor to discuss the impact of costly federal regulations on Missourians.

During Senator Blunts’ speech he began by explaining that there is a lot of concern that Congress is not doing their part to keep the regulators under control:

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Senator Blunt continued by breaking down his thoughts on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan:

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Blunt will be running for a second term in office in 2016.

(Washington) – During a televised address from the White House last month, President Barack Obama outlined a plan to provide administrative relief and work permits to as many as 3.7 million illegal immigrants,  as well as an additional 300,000 young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.

U.S. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill recently spoke with media outlets across the state where she shared that she wasn’t sure if President Obama’s new plan would last:

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According to the Washington Post, during the address President Obama portrayed his action as a “common-sense, middle-ground approach” that will allow otherwise law-abiding immigrants to “come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”