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BRANSON, Mo. (AP) - The first phase of a makeover of a 5-mile stretch of highway in Branson could be finished by Memorial Day.

The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/2hLDtUI ) reports the construction aims to alleviate traffic congestion along West Highway 76 by creating a wider, continuous pedestrian walkway in the area, which includes Branson's entertainment district.

 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's outgoing Democratic governor says he's made plenty of "solid accomplishments" during his two terms as the chief executive.  In an interview with the Associated Press, Gov. Jay Nixon cites increased funding for education and mental health services and billions of spending cuts that have helped keep the budget in balance as tax revenues declined from a recession.  There also have been other events that have shaped Nixon's tenure. He's had to manage numerous natural disasters. Most notable was the 2011 Joplin tornado that killed 161 people.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon set an aggressive agenda to attract jobs after the Great Recession.

An Associated Press analysis shows the Democratic governor promoted business deals projected to cumulatively create about 48,000 jobs in exchange for up to $2 billion of state incentives.

As Nixon prepares to leave office Jan. 9, those businesses have reported hiring a little over 21,000 employees. The state so far has paid about $166 million of incentives to those firms.

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Soaring numbers in a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest economic conditions are improving in nine Midwest and Plains states.

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Three schools in Craighead County are being recognized in a list of the best schools in the nation.

The Jonesboro Sun reports Valley View High School, Buffalo Island Central High School, and Nettleton High School were listed in the 2016 Best High School Rankings report.

 

More than three dozen organizations have accepted invitations to take part in the inaugural parade after President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in Jan. 20, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced. More than 8,000 participants will represent the various groups. A list of the organizations:

— 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment, Fort Hood, Texas

— 1st Infantry Division Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard, Fort Riley, Kansas

— Boone County Elite 4-H Equestrian Drill Team, Burlington, Kentucky

(Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - One-year-old formerly conjoined twin girls from Nigeria are continuing their recovery at a Tennessee hospital.

The Commercial Appeal  reports the parents of Miracle and Testimony Ayeni are delighted by their progress. Mary Ayeni says her daughters "eat whatever you put in front of them."

governor.arkansas.gov

UPDATE 1/6/17:  Due to Inclement Weather, the Political Animals Meeting has been canceled today. 

Ice, Food, and Birds -1/7 Weekend

Jan 2, 2017

The first full weekend in 2017 is full of fun events that will satisfy everyone, from the foodie to the bird watcher. Travel Writer Kim Williams talks with us about upcoming events for the weekend of January 7th.

The last weekend to enjoy a winter wonderland is here! Williams tells us about a fun holiday season on the river, full of ice skating, carriage rides, and a light show, in its last weekend.

Arkansas Prosecutor says Christmas shooting justified

Jan 2, 2017
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BATESVILLE, Ark. (AP) - A prosecutor says no police officers will face charges for the fatal shooting of a Mississippi man on Christmas Day.

Prosecutor Don McSpadden tells the Batesville Daily Guard (http://bit.ly/2hK4rkd) that the death of 33-year-old Joseph Garcia was "tragic but justified." Garcia, who was from Collinsville, Mississippi, died in the shooting Dec. 25 near Batesville, about 75 miles northeast of Little Rock.

DELLWOOD, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov.-elect Eric Greitens has named leaders for his public safety team.

Greitens announced Monday that Drew Juden, director of public safety in Sikeston, will be his director of public safety. Greg Favre, command staff officer for the St. Louis Fire Department, will be deputy director.

Talk Business & Politics

Some Arkansas workers will get a 50 cent boost in pay on New Year’s Day when the state’s minimum wage will rise from $8 to $8.50, Arkansas Department of Labor officials said Wednesday (Dec. 28).

“This is the final increment of the (Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative) that was passed by voters in 2014,” said Rosalyn Miller, public relations officer of the state Department of Labor.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Ethics and right-to-work bills are among the top priorities for Missouri Republican legislative leaders and GOP Gov.-elect Eric Greitens.   Lawmakers return Wednesday to the Capitol for the roughly five-month 2017 session.   Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers but have been checked by outgoing Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. He was barred by term limits from seeking re-election.   Greitens might be a closer ally to GOP lawmakers.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee group of businesses is charging into the fiery debate over how to balance LGBT rights and religious conviction.

About 300 companies, from health-care giant HCA to FedEx, have joined under the moniker Tennessee Thrives to oppose religious objection and bathroom bills, like the one in North Carolina that has stirred a months-long uproar.

Companies in other GOP-led states have successfully voiced opposition under similar names: Georgia Prospers, Opportunity West Virginia, Missouri Competes.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The stakes confronting Republicans determined to dismantle President Barack Obama's health care law were evident in one recent encounter between an Ohio congressman and a constituent.

"He said, 'Now you guys own it. Now fix it. It's on your watch now,'" recalled GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi, chairman of a pivotal health subcommittee. "And this is a supporter."

LITTLE ROCK (AP) --A former U.S. senator who defended an impeached president and a former U.S. representative who helped draft articles of impeachment against another president are among the notable Arkansans who died during 2016.

Former governor and Sen. Dale Bumpers died New Year's Day at age 90 and former U.S. Rep. Ray Thornton died April 13 at age 87.

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  LONSDALE, Ark. (AP) — Damon Helton had one problem when he bought a 160-acre farm in Lonsdale four years ago — he didn't know the first thing about farming.

Three years out of the military, the retired Army Ranger was still transitioning back to civilian life. He had a well-paying sales job, but it took him away from his wife and children too often.

So he bought the Farm at Barefoot Bend in Garland County.

"Then, it was like 'Holy crap, what did we just do?'" he said.

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  LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas could be in for some wild weather next week as spring-like temperatures give way to thunderstorms and a cold front that could be packing snow and freezing rain.

The National Weather Service says high temperatures will reach into the 60s and 70s Monday before a cold front pushes in from the Plains to the state, triggering showers and thunderstorms. Forecasters say some of the storms could be severe across southeast Arkansas.

Wikipedia.org

  LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The number of Arkansas residents participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has decreased by nearly 25,000 since new federal requirements were imposed in January.

The state began enforcing requirements that limit the food stamp program to three months for able-bodied, childless adults ages 18 to 49, unless they're in school or participating in volunteer or job-training programs.

Wikipedia.org

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — What a difference one election can make.

The approval of a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana and Donald Trump's surprise White House win weren't just two of the biggest political stories in Arkansas. They also upended the agenda for the upcoming legislative session and are likely to dominate Arkansas' politics in 2017.

From establishing the first medical pot program in the Bible Belt to the future of a hybrid Medicaid expansion program covering thousands, the state faces plenty of questions in the new year.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A trial date has been set for a man accused of fatally shooting a northeast Arkansas farmer over a dispute about herbicide use.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2isVn2W ) Missouri resident Allan Curtis Jones will stand trial March 13 in the death of 55-year-old Monette resident Mike Wallace.

Circuit Judge Melissa Bristow Richardson also set a plea date of March 6 for Jones. Jones will go to trial if he fails to reach a plea deal with prosecutors.

Jones has pleaded not guilty.

-12/31 Weekend

Dec 26, 2016

For those ready to celebrate the first weekend of 2017, Travel Writer Kim Williams has a list of events that are sure to thrill!

First, Williams tells us how State Parks all across Arkansas are celebrating the new year in a special way- hiking! Break in the new year with a trek through nature's beauty.

Bird watchers will love William's information on a scientific mystery that happens every year when a flock of swans descends on an Arkansan lake for the winter.

Winter Ice and Holiday Lights - 12/23 Weekend

Dec 19, 2016

The weekend before Christmas is pack full of events for you and the family!

One of the biggest lighting festivals in the midsouth happens right here in Arkansas- and Travel Writer Kim Williams has all the details on this amazing event.

For those who want to experience the full fun of winter, Williams directs you to a winter wonderland full of fun, ice skating, carriage rides, and more fun!

Williams also has information on an Arkansas street transformed into a winter wonderland- complete with Santa and his elves!

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — More than 300 people from law enforcement, medicine and other specialties gathered in Memphis for the Heroin and Opioid Training Summit to discuss growing use of the drugs.

Media outlets report that the summit, organized by the U.S. Attorney's Office of West Tennessee and held Tuesday at the Bass Pro Pyramid, was the first of its kind in Memphis. U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton says the purpose of the summit was to share information among the disparate groups represented and discuss options to combat the problem.

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

Law enforcement across the nation are on the lookout for drunk drivers this holiday season. 

The annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is now underway.  Through New Year’s Day, officers are stepping up their enforcement efforts reduce drunk driving. 

The Triple A is anticipating record numbers of people on the roads through the end of the year…that increases the chances of crashes due to impaired driving. 

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