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Arkansas Economic Development Commission

OSCEOLA, Ark. (AP) — Production is beginning at a new, $1.3 billion steel mill in northeast Arkansas.

According to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Big River Steel has begun operations in its melt shop and hot mill at the new facility in Mississippi County. The steel mill was the first "superproject" to be approved under a 2004 state constitutional amendment that allows the state to borrow money to help lure major employers.

ASH FLAT, Ark. (AP) — A man who has been on death row for the 1986 killings of a man and a woman has been resentenced to life in prison without parole.

The Batesville Guard (https://guardonline.com/?p=225354) reports Steven Victor Wertz was resentenced Tuesday by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party said Thursday he won't seek another term, announcing his departure after three years that have been marked by Republicans making widespread gains in what had once been a Democratic holdout in the South.

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Some rice farmers can use much less water and get the same yield by flooding their fields at the start and end of the season, and letting them dry out a bit in between, Mississippi State University researchers say.

That's a radical change from recommendations across the Rice Belt to keep two to four inches of water in the fields, irrigation specialist Jason Krutz said in a news release. Instead, he recommends letting fields dry until water is 4 inches below the soil surface, then re-flooding them.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas-based Simmons First National Corp. has announced plans to buy an Oklahoma bank in a deal valued at more than $564 million.

Simmons, which is based in Pine Bluff, announced Wednesday that it would purchase Southwest Bancorp, Inc. of Stillwater, Oklahoma. Southwest Bancorp is the parent company of Bank SNB, which has 31 branches in four states.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' attorney general says the state will receive nearly $53,000 in a settlement with the owner of the Ashley Madison adultery dating website.

The agreement is part of a $1.6 million settlement that will be paid to 13 states and the District of Columbia following an investigation led by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission into a massive breach of the company's computer systems and the outing of millions of its members.  Ashley Madison is owned by Toronto-based Ruby Corp.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas legislative panel has rejected a disputed $160 million contract with an Indiana company to take over the operation of seven youth lockup facilities in Arkansas.

The panel voted Tuesday not to review the Department of Human Services' contract with Youth Opportunity Investments LLC, which is set to take over the facilities Jan. 1.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Opponents of an effort to build a Ten Commandments monument near Arkansas' Capitol urged a panel to reject the statue on grounds that it could bring lawsuits, while the lawmaker behind the display said Wednesday that the only decision remaining is where to install it.

The privately funded monument is, by law, allowed to be on Capitol grounds. But the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission must issue its recommendation on the monument's location and design to Secretary of State Mark Martin before he can approve it.

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A policy for constructing and improving sidewalks in Jonesboro may be in the hands of a new citizen's committee.

The Jonesboro Metropolitan Area Planning Commission voted Tuesday to propose the committee to Mayor Harold Perrin and the City Council.  It will be comprised of residents and developers.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The chief of staff to Arkansas Treasurer Dennis Milligan is retiring.

Milligan said in a statement Monday that Jim Harris is retiring after serving as chief of staff since Milligan took office in 2015.

Harris said in the statement that he needs to focus on his health.

A retirement date was not announced. Harris has previously worked in both the governor's office and for the state Department of Emergency Management.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri labor union leader is proposing to take the battle over so-called right-to-work laws to a vote of the people.

Missouri AFL-CIO President Mike Louis has filed several versions of an initiative petition with the secretary of state's office that would ask voters to amend the constitution to ensure union negotiating rights.

Louis concedes that the Republican-led Legislature and incoming Republican Gov. Eric Greitens are likely to enact a right-to-work law during the 2017 session that prohibits mandatory union fees in workplaces.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jobs are on the rise and unemployment continues to decline in Missouri.

The state Department of Economic Development on Tuesday announced seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment grew by 1,900 jobs in November.

Jobs again hit a record high, with a total of more than 2.8 million in the state. The state gained about 57,000 jobs in the past year, which is a growth of a little more than 2 percent.

The most job growth last month occurred in the accommodation and food services industry.

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Monsanto Co. shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a $57 billion merger with Bayer AG, a deal that would combine two of the world's biggest agricultural companies.

Preliminary results showed that 99 percent of all votes cast favored the merger announced in September, St. Louis-based Monsanto said. Shareholders will receive $128 per share in cash at the closing of the merger, which must still receive regulatory approval. Monsanto said the deal is expected to close by the end of 2017.

Monsanto shares rose 32 cents to $104.91 in midday trading.

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The Poinsett County Quorum Court has unanimously approved a 3% salary increase for county employees.

The Jonesboro Sun reports the salary increase was a part of the 2017 county budget proposal which was passed at Monday night's meeting in Harrisburg.  The proposal also included a one-time supplement of $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees.  The Justices of the Peace will also see an increase in committee meeting pay from $44.93 to $290.92 as part of the new budget.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Rhodes College in Memphis has named Marjorie Hass as the school's 20th president.

Hass, who is currently president of Austin College in Sherman, Texas, will become the first female president in Rhodes' 168-year history. She succeeds current President William E. Troutt in July following his retirement after 18 years as Rhodes president.

Rhodes has an enrollment about 2,000 undergraduate students.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri woman who sued American Family Insurance for retaliation and age and sex discrimination has been awarded $20 million in punitive damages.

Deborah Miller, 60, of Blue Springs, also was awarded $450,000 in actual damages on Friday by a Jackson County jury, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/2gydiVH ). She was removed from her manager position in a corporate restructuring but continues to be a company agent.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Planned Parenthood officials in Missouri asked a federal judge Monday to block abortion regulations so four additional clinics can offer the procedure during a legal battle over the laws that anti-abortion activists have called "flabbergasting" and "dangerous."

Leaders of Missouri's Planned Parenthood centers want U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs to temporarily block state abortion laws the organization's leaders say have led to limited access to the procedure.

A new salary plan, benefit increases, and increasing costs are expected to put the city of Jonesboro's budget under a watchful eye next year.  

Holiday Fun -12/17 Weekend

Dec 12, 2016

This week, a variety of holiday-themed events in Arkansas are sure to entertain any type of person, from the foodie to the craftsman, to those who enjoy watching a holiday classic. Travel Writer Kim Williams has details on all these events and more in this episode.

First, enjoy a holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol". This literary holiday tale comes to life on-stage in Northeast Arkansas. It's a great show for people of all ages.

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LABADIE, Mo. (AP) — Two additional air monitors will help to determine if Missouri's large coal-fired power plant complies with federal safety thresholds for an airborne pollutant.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced new safety standards for sulfur dioxide emissions more than six years ago. Ameren Missouri said its preliminary tests show the air near its coal-fired Labadie Energy Center meets the standard, but questions have been raised about the placement of existing sulfur dioxide monitors.

Advanced Placement Classes Popular in Arkansas

Dec 12, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Researchers say an eight-year effort to enroll more high school students in advanced placement classes is paying off — regardless of how students do on end-of-year exams.

The Arkansas Research Center at the University of Central Arkansas says students targeted for AP enrollment in 2008 are earning $4,000 more on average than students who didn't take advanced classes in math, science or English.

Earnings are higher even for those students who didn't earn scores that qualified them for college credit.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — About 50 protesters turned out in Fayetteville to oppose a planned oil pipeline across northern Arkansas.

Opponents said Saturday that the planned Diamond Pipeline is a threat to water, protected species and historic sites.

The planned 440-mile pipeline by Plains All American Pipeline and Valero Energy Corp. would extend from Cushing, Oklahoma, to a Valero refinery in Memphis, Tennessee, and would cross 14 counties in Arkansas and five Arkansas Rivers.

 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Food stamps could not be used to buy junk food in Arkansas under a bill filed for the coming legislative session.

The bill by Republican Rep. Mary Bentley of Perryville calls for the state Department of Human Services to ask for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps.

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There have been attempts in recent years by state Democrats and advocacy organizations to increase the amount of money the state spends on its pre-K program, known as Arkansas Better Chance (ABC). Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families held a meeting Thursday in Jonesboro to inform locals about potential legislation, including ABC funding that will be considered by the Arkansas General Assembly next year.

AACF senior policy analyst Paul Kelly told Talk Business & Politics the state’s economic future is dependent upon advances in the ABC program.

Delta Regional Authority

Workers and businesses across the greater Memphis area will receive a major investment into the creation of good-paying manufacturing jobs – to the tune of more than $350,000 – Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill announced Wednesday.

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