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George Jared / Talk Business & Politcs

George Jared is a reporter for Talk Business & Politics, covering issues related to Northeast Arkansas and the Delta.  Jared is also an Author and a former reporter for the Jonesboro Sun.

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President Donald Trump has imposed billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese imports this year, and China has struck back with retaliatory tariffs of its own. Those tariffs are targeted on agriculture imports, and many of the impacted states voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, according to a new study released Tuesday (Aug. 7), and conducted by the Walton Family Foundation in Bentonville as part of its Heartland Project.

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Black River Technical College President Eric Turner has resigned. Turner told Talk Business & Politics he has been offered the president’s job at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo. Turner’s last day will be Tuesday (July 31).

The aquatics center in Batesville is one of the largest in the state, and cost about $25 million to build. It was funded by a voter-approved 1% sales tax increase.
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The city of Jonesboro has experienced impressive economic and population growth during the past decade, and quality of life has become a focus for civic leaders interested in maintaining the momentum. One idea in that effort is an aquatic center.

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About three years ago Ronnie Samuel’s son was searching for a bumper for his ATV. When Samuel saw what was on the market, he told his son they could make something better.

Rage Fabrications was born.

The company opened its doors on a new facility Monday (June 18) in Trumann. Samuel told Talk Business & Politics his company invested about $200,000 in the company and it employs 10 workers. The facility located in the Truman industrial park is owned by the city, but Rage has signed a lease for at least five years and it has options for it to be extended up to 20 years.

Arkansas State Capitol
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One of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s most vocal critics within his own party lost her primary battle Tuesday night. State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, was defeated by State Rep. James Sturch, R-Batesville, in the State Senate District 19 race. With 100% of the vote in according to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office, Sturch tallied 52.9% (5,299) of votes cast while Collins-Smith garnered 47.1% (4,726).

Results are unofficial.

State Rep. Dan Sullivan and Republican primary challenger Dr. Cole Peck believe the state should reconsider its telemedicine regulations, but each would have a different approach. The two men seeking the House District 53 seat debated Friday (May 4) at the Political Animals Club meeting held at the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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The Arkansas State Plant Board will hold a special meeting Wednesday (Jan. 3) in Little Rock to discuss potential regulation changes for the use of the herbicide dicamba during the 2018 growing season.

ASPB had proposed to ban the controversial weed killer for the season, but the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee decided Dec. 12 to hold the rule change to allow ASPB to possibly modify it before a final decision is rendered.

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The last step in banning dicamba during the bulk of the 2018 growing season and a significant increase to the fines for farmers who use it illegally will be decided by Arkansas legislative committees during the next week.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., were convicted of the murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis in 1993. They were released 18 years later when new evidence emerged and false statements were revealed.
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Jessie Misskelley Jr., released from prison in 2011 in the infamous West Memphis Three case was jailed Saturday night after he was arrested on a slew of traffic citations. Misskelley, 42, is accused of driving without a license, no vehicle insurance, and driving a vehicle with one or more headlights. He appeared in district court Monday. His bond was set at $875.

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An intramural battle among Republicans for a coveted state senate seat has sparked in northern Arkansas. State Rep. James Sturch, R-Batesville, will muster a primary challenge to incumbent State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, for the District 19 seat.

Sturch, a Southside native and certified social studies teacher, began his career in public service 15 years ago when he worked on former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s re-election campaign.

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Jonesboro’s economic growth stumbled in recent months as sales and use receipts and building permit values declined. At least one of those indicators is on the rise again.

Northeast Arkansas’ hub city collected $1.48 million in sales tax in May, a 1.54% increase from the same month in 2016, according to city info.

Delta Regional Authority

Art and culture have always been a way of life in eastern Arkansas and now at least one organization thinks both can become economic drivers in the region.

A water wall is moving down the Black River and parts of Northeast Arkansas are bracing for the worst floods in generations. At least 300 people were evacuated from eastern Pocahontas on Monday as the river continued to rise, fueled by weekend rains in southern Missouri.

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Plans to build a 165-room Hyatt Place Hotel and an adjoining 78,000-square-foot convention center near Jonesboro’s hotel row off Caraway Road are in peril. Dirt work has been begun at the site, but liens have already been placed against the property, according to the city’s A&P Commission.

The Melba Theater in Downtown Batesville, picture from Arkansas Parks and Tourism, credit Talk Business and Politics
Talk Business & Politics

Adam Curtwright’s first job was at the Melba Theater in downtown Batesville. In elementary school, he’d watched many movies on the theater’s lone screen. After he graduated from high school, Curtwright moved onto other jobs and ultimately became a banker.

But he yearned to return to the Melba, and when the building became available he, his wife, Mandy, and another couple, Joe and Janelle Shell, made a daring move.

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Doniphan Vitality, a non-profit organization, has received a $100,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority, DRA, to conduct an innovation hub feasibility study in four southern Missouri counties and Sharp and Randolph counties in Arkansas.

The University of Missouri Extension Office has also pledged a $20,000 match, DV Arkansas leadership point person Graycen Bigger told Talk Business & Politics.

Talk Business & Politics

Ahab Alammar has lived the American dream. The 28-year-old was born in Syria, but when he turned 13 his family was able to secure him a visa to come to the United States. He was the only person in his village of about 5,000 people to get one.

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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.

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Low crop yields could force some farmers in Craighead County to abandon their livelihoods by the spring, Craighead County Extension Agent Brannon Thiesse told Talk Business & Politics.

Rain, humidity, periods of intense heat, and other factors have led to a relatively poor harvest for rice, soybeans, and corn farmers – three of the staple row crops in the region. There are roughly 200 farmers in Craighead County, and Theisse estimates up to 5% of them could go out of business as a result of poor yields.