Arkansas high school seniors are busy planning for the future. As they study for Advanced Placement exams, buy their final yearbook and anticipate graduation celebrations, many pursuing higher education are filling out financial aid paperwork to help pay for the skyrocketing costs of college.

The state Agriculture Department has failed Arkansas farmers badly at a time when poultry growers are struggling to survive. Instead of helping farmers, the department helped corporate entities that created many of the farmers’ financial problems.

Something — I have no idea what — tried extra hard to take me down over the weekend. I’m talking about some kind of head cold that came on strong Friday afternoon, sent me home early, and gave me fits the whole weekend.

We can be proud of the contributions of Arkansas farmers and ranchers to feed and clothe the world. The Natural State is a major exporter of rice, soybeans, cotton and poultry. Agriculture accounts for nearly 25 percent of our state’s economic activity, so it’s critical we foster an economic environment to help these operations thrive. Trade is a critical component to that formula. 

The state Division of Children and Family Services has intensified preventative services in troubled families, and managed to lower the number of children in foster homes.

If you haven’t been following the plight of former Cooks Venture poultry growers in Madison and Carroll counties, who’ve lost much of their livelihood due to the company going out of business, you should.

Aside from a fairly amusing movie called Groundhog Day , I’ve never taken much of an interest in Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog weather watcher who, if he wakes up on Feb. 2 and sees …

Q: I saw a sign posted at the extension office about a seed swap, can you tell me more about it. A: The third annual Slowstead School House Seed Swap will be this Saturday, Feb. 10, from 9 a.m. …

In the last census, more than half of Arkansas’s 75 counties lost population. That trend continues nationwide. In addition to shifting demographics, rural America faces other challenges including aging infrastructure, declining health and lack of access to capital.

A group of physicians and nurses conducted an in-depth study of the deaths of pregnant women in Arkansas and submitted their recommendations to the Legislative Council.

I hope as many people as possible participated in the City of Huntsville’s survey, which closes Thursday. I took the survey and thought it provided an opportunity for the city to gather some much-needed food for thought.

I appreciate Arkansans sharing with me what issues are important to them and potential legislative solutions they support. Whether it’s over the phone, in-person meetings, letters or emails, regularly hearing from folks in our state is necessary so I can be an effective voice for priorities of Natural State residents. Here are some policies our friends and neighbors are urging the Senate to advance.

The freezing weather may have prevented citizens from appearing in person at three public hearings held by the Arkansas Broadband Office to gather input about plans to expand and improve Internet access in the state.

Temperatures at or slightly below freezing resulted in icy conditions on roadways, in parking lots and driveways Monday morning. I guess it can mean only one thing: it’s still January.

Did I mention I hate snow? Probably not the best part of the state for someone who dislikes snow as much as I do. Thank goodness winter’s almost over and summer is just around the corner! …

Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each day they dress in their uniform and leave for work. We are grateful for the men and women who take that risk to protect and serve their neighbors and keep their community safe. We must honor their service and sacrifice as well as continually recognize their heroism and courage.

The Senate Education Committee has begun its review of the adequacy and equity of Arkansas public school funding.

QUESTION:  I love my shade garden, but the deer are eating all my hostas, coleus, and impatiens.  How can we keep them away from the garden?  

Sen. Dale Bumpers used to say that when you see a turtle on a fence post, always keep in mind that it didn’t get there by itself. That expression has stuck with me ever since.

It was good to see dirt turned last week for the new Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Jail. The dirt was moved despite the fact a couple of minor items still remain to be successfully bid. Those won’t become necessary until farther along in construction. I know County Judge Larry Garrett was relieved to see work finally begin on the project; I imagine most Madison County taxpayers are. Here’s hoping the work goes without a hitch.

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