KASU

Associated Press

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.

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.

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.

Pixabay

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.

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.

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) — 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) — 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.

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.

Pixabay

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.

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.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) _ A woman accused of helping cover up the killing of 2-year-old Searcy boy Malik Drummond has been released from jail because she is eight months pregnant.
 
   The Searcy Police Department says Lesley Marcotte was released after she was arrested Thursday on a charge of hindering apprehension and prosecution. No attorney information is listed for Marcotte.
 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ The Arkansas Health Department has decided to issue amended birth certificates for children of same-sex couples who can prove they were married before the child was born.
 

New Arkansas Parole Board regulations have gone into effect to reduce the number of parolees sent back to prison.
 
   The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1RzKrdQ ) reports that the regulations took effect Thursday. The regulations say that a hearing for a parolee will not be scheduled until there has been a conviction or some other finding that a parole violation has occurred, except in cases involving allegations of violence.
 

A 55-year-old restaurant manager died and more than two dozen others were taken to hospitals Saturday after being overcome by carbon monoxide at a New York mall, police said.

Suffolk County police identified the man who died as Steven Nelson, a manager at the Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station on Long Island.

Police said 28 others affected by carbon monoxide were taken to area hospitals.

The Taliban has suspended talks over a possible exchange of Taliban and U.S. prisoners due to the "complexity" of the situation in Afghanistan, the militant group said on Sunday.

"Due to the political complexity of the current situation in the country, the leadership of the Islamic Emirate has decided to suspend the issue for some time," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an email to media organizations, using the name the Taliban gave their 1996-2001 government.

The stakes were high and the vote was close as Boeing production workers agreed to concede some benefits in order to secure assembly of the new 777X airplane for the Puget Sound region.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Boeing hailed Friday's vote, which proponents said solidifies the aerospace giant's presence in the Seattle area.

"Tonight, Washington state secured its future as the aerospace capital of the world," Inslee declared.

Paul Walker, the star of the "Fast & Furious" movie series, died Saturday in a car crash that killed one other person north of Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 40.

Walker died Saturday afternoon, Ame Van Iden told the Associated Press.

A statement on the actor's Facebook page said he was a passenger in a friend's car, and that Walker was in the area to attend a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide.

"We ... are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news," the statement said.

Americans Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller won the Nobel prize for economics on Monday for developing new methods to study trends in asset markets.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three had laid the foundation of the current understanding of asset prices.

While it's hard to predict whether stock or bond prices will go up or down in the short term, it's possible to foresee movements over periods of three years or longer, the academy said.

Major League Baseball expanded its playoff format to 10 teams Friday, adding a second wild-card in each league.

The decision establishes a new one-game, wild-card round in each league between the teams with the best records who are not division winners, meaning a third-place team could win the World Series.

This is the only change in baseball's playoff structure since the 1995 season, when wild-card teams were first added.

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