Associated Press

Ninety-six-year-old Cyrus Porter is a devoted Taylor Swift fan and has traveled to her shows, but on Monday, he didn't have to go anywhere. Swift came to him.

A day after Porter hosted 72 people for Christmas, a van pulled into the driveway of his home in New Madrid.

Out stepped Taylor Swift and her parents. The 27-year-old singer stayed about an hour and sang "Shake It Off" as Porter's relatives sang along.

Swift had learned about the World War II combat veteran's fandom and decided to surprise him.

David Shane / Flickr

Missouri lawmakers hope that the upcoming session will finally produce a ban on lobbyist gifts, thanks to support from Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens. 

Authorities in the St. Louis area are searching for a 5-month-old girl after someone took off with the minivan she was in earlier this week.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the baby, Eden Brooke Hawthorne, was last seen in the 2006 Chrysler Town and Country van at a Church's Chicken in Normandy on Monday night.

Police say the mother rode to the restaurant with the baby and four other people. The mother and a man went inside the restaurant, and the minivan left with the baby inside.

Jonathunder / Wikimedia commons

A federal appellate court has reinstated a judge's 2013 ruling that a central Missouri technical college's mandatory drug testing policy is unconstitutional when applied to most students.

The 9-2 ruling yesterday by the full 8th U.S. District Court of Appeals in St. Louis sided with the American Civil Liberties Union in reversing an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of that court.

That trio had overturned a federal judge's injunction barring State Technical College of Missouri — formerly Linn State Technical College — from drug screening all of its 1,200 students.

j.stephenconn / flickr

The Missouri lawmaker behind a failed attempt to protect some businesses opposed to same-sex marriage says he doesn't plan to try again next year.

Republican Sen. Bob Onder told The Associated Press on Wednesday that too much time was spent this year on the proposed constitutional amendment, only for it to fail.

It would have barred government penalties against businesses such as florists that cite religion while denying some goods and services for same-sex weddings. It also needed voter approval.

Provided by Columbia Parks and Recreation

A 144-mile stretch of a former railroad line is expected to be transferred to the state of Missouri by the end of next year for use as a hiking and biking trail.

Gov. Jay Nixon was at Ameren headquarters in St. Louis Wednesday to announce details of plans to develop the former Rock Island rail line from Windsor, in western Missouri, to Beaufort, about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Nixon says the new trail will strengthen economies along its path and bolster the state's image as a leading hiking and biking destination.

David Shane / Flickr

Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is appointing a North Carolina corrections official to lead Missouri's Department of Corrections.

Greitens announced his pick Wednesday of North Carolina community supervision Director Anne Precythe.

The Senate must confirm her appointment.

Current Missouri prisons chief George Lombardi had applied to stay on when Greitens assumes office in January, but later withdrew his application.

j.stephenconn / flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court has reinstated the law license of former St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr.

Bosley's license was suspended indefinitely in September 2014 over allegations that mishandled clients' money.

Bosley served as St. Louis mayor from 1993 to 1997 and has run a law firm that handles personal injury lawsuits and other cases.

The state Supreme Court had court found Bosley violated attorney rules by mingling clients' money with personal funds, failing to keep complete records and not promptly paying money to clients.

Jonathunder / Wikimedia commons

A Missouri appeals court has ordered a new trial for a man sentenced to three decades in prison for infecting another man with HIV and endangering four others with the disease while attending college.

A Missouri Court of Appeals panel sided yesterday with Michael L. Johnson's claim that the St. Charles County trial court abused its discretion by admitting excerpted recordings of phone calls Johnson made while jailed. Those recordings weren't disclosed to Johnson's attorneys until the morning of the first day of trial.

David Shane / Flickr

Outgoing Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is warning the Democratic Party against veering to the left after the party's defeats in this year's elections.

Nixon told The Associated Press yesterday that the party needs to include those with more centrist values.

Nixon says identity politics can lead to exclusion and says it's wrong not to welcome those who enjoy sporting activities including shooting, hunting and fishing.

David Shane / Flickr

Missouri Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has named a top Anheuser-Busch official, Michael Roche, to be his chief of staff.

The Kansas City Star first reported the pick Tuesday.

Roche is vice president of national affairs for the brewery and worked as a federal lobbyist for the company.

Greitens' former campaign manager, Austin Chambers, says he'll stay on as a senior adviser.

Chambers also confirmed that Jennae Neustadt will be Greitens' legislative director. She previously worked as chief of staff for Republican state Sen. Bob Onder.

Adam Procter / flickr

Documents obtained by the Columbia Daily Tribune show 16 students who drank at University of Missouri fraternities were taken to hospitals for alcohol poisoning since August 2015.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports those incidents include cases reported to the university police department or the Department of Student Life. Records show six incidents involving an emergency medical response where a student didn't have to be transported to a hospital.

prison cell
mikecogh / Flickr

Six federal inmates serving time in Missouri-related drug cases are getting their sentences shortened by President Barack Obama, and three others got pardons.

The commutations were among 153 announced yesterday by the White House, along with 78 pardons. That's the largest number of individual clemencies in a single day by any president.

Obama issued pardons to Bob Edward Bone of St. Louis and Larry Wayne Childress of Williamsville in methamphetamine conspiracy cases, and Emmanuel Gabriel Leeper of Plano, Texas, for a marijuana-possession conviction.

22860 / flickr

Advocates for domestic violence victims and the National Rifle Association are working with lawmakers to keep firearms out of the hands of batterers.

The Columbia Missourian reports that the issue is with a new law that allows Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. The concern is that law enforcement officers will no longer be able to use the permitting process to ensure guns don't fall into the wrong hands when the law takes effect Jan. 1.

Karen Blaha / flickr

The dangerous wintry mix that settled over Missouri during the weekend is gone, but bitter cold on Monday forced dozens of schools to call off classes and made venturing outdoors miserable.

Parts of the state awoke to temperatures below zero Monday morning, and readings most everywhere else were in single digits. Schools remained closed in many places because it was too dangerously cold for the kids to get out.

Nearly 40 water main breaks in the St. Louis area were blamed on the frigid conditions.

ALEX HEUER / St. Louis Public Radio

A newspaper reports that members of Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens' transition team have agreed to not publicly discuss their activities.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says documents obtained through the state's open-records law show members of the transition team are required to pledge in writing that they won't discuss the group's inner workings.

That "Code of Conduct and Confidentiality Agreement" notes that not complying with its 17 requirements may result in the offender's ouster from the transition team, and "other sanctions" deemed appropriate.

Via Flickr user Gage Skidmore

Missouri's electors who voted for President-elect Donald Trump have received a mixed response from onlookers.

Supporters in the Capitol clapped and cheered when the state's 10 electors all cast their ballots for Trump.

An opponent in the crowded Senate Lounge called out "justice for all" after the vote took place. A woman in response told the man to "get over it."

The votes for Trump were expected, although opponents looking to block the president-elect from taking office had hoped some electors would change their minds.

LancerenoK / Flickr

The homeless are proving to be especially susceptible to the latest version of synthetic marijuana, a man-made hallucinogen that experts say is far more dangerous and unpredictable than the real thing.

Nearly 300 homeless people became ill last month in St. Louis. Other outbreaks have occurred in New York City, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.

Experts say synthetic marijuana is popular among the homeless for several reasons: It's cheap. It's difficult to detect in a drug test. And it's a fast escape from reality.

David Shane / Flickr

 Missouri's Republican electors soon will gather to cast their votes for the next president of the United States.

The state's 10 GOP electors are set to vote this afternoon at 2 p.m. in the Capitol.

Eight electors interviewed by The Associated Press said they'll vote for Republican President-elect Donald Trump. AP was unable to interview the two other electors.

The voting process has lasted mere minutes in past Missouri elections.

But this year it's being closely watched following an outpouring of pressure from those hoping to stop Trump from taking office.

Temperatures plummeted in Missouri after freezing rain blanketed roads with ice, causing scores of accidents including some fatalities. At least three deaths in Missouri were blamed on icy roads Friday after a treacherous mix of snow and freezing rain blasted much of the state.

Freezing drizzle and low temperatures hit sections of Missouri, making travel icy and treacherous.

I-70, Stadium Boulevard, and many other major roadways were at a near standstill Friday afternoon. 

Columbia Public Works says it put about 25 peices of equipment on Columbia streets, priority routes, starting at 10:30 am Friday to spread salt. The crews will continue to work overnight.

Via Flickr user Gage Skidmore

A Mexican-American elector says he's sticking with his pledge to vote for Missouri's winning candidate, Donald Trump.

Hector Maldonado told The Associated Press he won't change his mind Monday in what's shaping up to be an unusually controversial Electoral College vote.

The child of a migrant worker, Maldonado moved to the U.S. at about age 5 and became a citizen in 1995.

ALEX HEUER / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republican Gov.-elect Eric Greitens is picking Kansas City attorney Lucinda Luetkemeyer to be his general counsel.

Greitens' transition team leader Austin Chambers told The Associated Press on Thursday that Luetkemeyer also is serving as the transition team's general counsel.

Luetkemeyer works at the Kansas City law firm of Graves Garrett.

Missouri Department of Corrections

Missouri's Department of Corrections director says he's withdrawing his application to continue heading the agency under the next governor following calls for him to leave.

Director George Lombardi in Thursday emails obtained by The Associated Press announced plans to leave when Gov. Jay Nixon's term ends. He says he'll go with as much dignity as he can muster.

prison cell
mikecogh / Flickr

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Missouri Department of Corrections alleging inmates did not receive proper hepatitis C treatment.

The ACLU and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center in St. Louis filed the federal lawsuit for the inmates Thursday.

Inmates in the lawsuit claim they didn't receive treatment for hepatitis C, which can cause liver damage. The lawsuit says that's discriminatory and unconstitutional.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office says that office has not yet received the lawsuit.


  Officials in two dozen states are asking President-elect Donald Trump to issue an executive order on his first day in office declaring President Barack Obama's plan to curb planet-warming carbon emissions illegal.

The letter sent to Trump and congressional leaders today is signed by Republican officials from 22 states and Democrats from the coal-producing states of Kentucky and Missouri.

Michael Coghlan via Flickr

  Following reports of harassment and employee lawsuits, Missouri's Department of Corrections director has said that he'll retire or resign.

Director George Lombardi in an email obtained by The Associated Press announced his decision to employees Thursday. Lombardi didn't say when he plans to leave.

The alternative weekly paper The Pitch first reported that Missouri between 2012 and 2016 paid more than $7.5 million on settlements and judgments related to those alleging harassment and retaliation.

Investigators have declared a building fire at the Missouri University of Science and Technology accidental.

The Rolla Daily News reports that the City of Rolla Fire and Rescue made the announcement Tuesday in a news release. An air conditioning unit on the roof of Emerson Hall caught fire last week, leading the school to evacuate the building. No injuries were reported. Power to surrounding buildings also was shut off as a precaution.

Adam Procter / flickr

The number of confirmed and probable mumps cases at the University of Missouri has grown to 228.

The University of Missouri released the latest numbers Wednesday as students take finals before heading home for winter break.

Health officials say they plan to continue monitoring cases over the break and through January. The school also is recommending that students receive a third dose of a vaccine that protects against mumps, as well as measles and rubella.

The school says most of the sickened students have recovered, with at least 190 of them no longer infectious.

U.S. Department of Justice

St. Louis County's family court and the U.S. government have reached a deal meant to resolve allegations that black youth are treated more harshly than whites and that juveniles often are deprived of constitutional rights.

Wednesday's announcement came after more than a year of bargaining to resolve what the U.S. Department of Justice called its "findings of serious and systemic violations of juvenile due process and equal protection rights."