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A judge has granted federal prosecutors' request to end a delay in a lawsuit over the ExxonMobil oil spill in central Arkansas. U.S. District Judge James Moody on Monday granted prosecutors' request to lift a stay in the case.

Moody granted their request to delay proceedings earlier this month because of the partial government shutdown.

Prosecutors said in previous court filings that most attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were unable to work on the case, even on a voluntary basis, because of the lapse in federal funding.

The Arkansas State Fair says 445,314 people went through the gates during the 10-day run of the event.

Fair director Ralph Shoptaw said Monday that the fair, which wrapped up on Sunday, drew 45,996 people on the last day at the Little Rock grounds.

That left the fair about 2,000 patrons shy of last year's attendance of 447,680. Shoptaw said the 445,314 total was still better than six of the previous 10 Arkansas State Fairs.

The fair features livestock competitions, carnival rides and food prepared in an array of styles.

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Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

A 14-year-old girl from Oklahoma City has unearthed a 3.85-carat diamond at Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Tana Clymer discovered the canary gem Saturday at the park, which is the only diamond-producing site in the United States open to the public. 

Tana says she'd been digging in the dirt for about two hours when she discovered the gem on the surface of the search field.

The yellow diamond is teardrop-shaped and about the size of a jellybean. Tana named the diamond "God's Jewel."

A plan to allow Arkansas to retain excess property tax revenue from a handful of school districts has stalled before a House panel. Supporters say the move effectively kills the proposal for this week's special session.

The House Education Committee rejected an effort Friday to bring the proposal up for a vote after it was tabled earlier in the day.

The Senate sponsor of an identical bill said he wouldn't bring it before that chamber due to the House objections.

Authorities say a Harding University graduate student was killed after she was struck by a patrol car driven by a White County sheriff's deputy.

The White County Sheriff's Office says 24-year-old Courtney Book was riding her bicycle Thursday night when she was struck by a patrol car driven by Lt. Brandon Grimes.  A spokesman for Harding says Book was a graduate student in the college of education.

The Daily Citizen reports Book had been a Harding student since 2008, earning an undergraduate degree in history in 2012.

Candidates from Arkansas' closely watched political races in 2014 addressed members of the Delta Grassroots Caucus at a conference in Memphis.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor addressed the crowd in person Friday, while his challenger, Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, spoke with members via speaker phone.

The caucus also included speeches from Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson, who are both running for Arkansas governor. The governor's office comes open next year because Democratic incumbent Mike Beebe is term-limited.

Arkansas lawmakers Friday approved legislation aimed at averting health insurance rate increases of up to 50 percent that are otherwise set to hit thousands of teachers next year.

The House and Senate on passed identical but separate bills that call for using $43 million in state surplus money this year. Those proposals will head to the opposite chambers for final votes.

The House also approved a series of long-term changes to the insurance program that supporters say are needed to keep it sustainable and avoid future efforts to boost funding.

Leading candidates for the U.S. Senate and governor's races in Arkansas are scheduled to speak at a conference in Memphis.

Two-term incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, and the Republican opponent for his Senate seat, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, will speak Friday at the Delta Grassroots Caucus at the Agricenter in east Memphis.

Also scheduled to speak are former Congressmen Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson, who are competing to replace Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe.

An Arkansas legislative committee has advanced a bill to use state surplus funds to lower an increase in teacher insurance premiums that are to hit next year.

The Joint Budget Committee on Thursday endorsed the proposal to use $43 million from the surplus to lower the premium which otherwise would increase by as much as 50 percent. The proposal is the centerpiece of a package of bills aimed at reducing the premium increase.

The surplus money and redirected surplus funds in subsequent years is expected to lower the premium increase to 10 percent.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is offering a $119 million settlement to three districts involved in a long-running school desegregation case.

In a letter Thursday, McDaniel said any settlement must involve the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County districts.

Arkansas pays about $70 million annually to the districts under a 1989 agreement. The offer was in response to a proposed settlement McDaniel recently received from Little Rock to phase out its payments in either a $297 million lump sum or $42.4 million a year for seven years.

Competing proposals have been filed in the state Legislature over the state's efforts to reclaim excess property tax revenues from a handful of Arkansas school districts.

Two bills were filed Thursday over the property tax issue, which is on the agenda for the special session Gov. Mike Beebe called to address a looming hike in teacher insurance rates.

Democratic Sen. Bruce Maloch filed a proposal backed by Beebe that would phase out the excess money eight districts receive from levying the state-mandated property tax millage. The money would go back to the state.

Members of Arkansas's congressional delegation supported legislation to reopen the federal government and avoid a threatened national default. 

The House voted 285-144 in support of the bill Wednesday night. Republican U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin and Steve Womack voted for the measure. 

After the House vote, Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said he reluctantly supported it. It passed the U.S. Senate 81-18 on Wednesday night with the support of Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, according to the Senate's website.

flickr.com

A hearing has been set in a lawsuit brought by a group of same-sex couples challenging Arkansas' ban on gay marriage.

Online court records show that a hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12 in state court.

A group of same-sex couples filed the lawsuit against a number of county clerks and the head of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration this year.

A domestic violence shelter in Arkansas says it's feeling the strain of the partial federal government shutdown.

Board members with a shelter called Women & Children First told reporters on Wednesday that the impasse is hurting their organization and a number of other groups that receive federal funding.

Meanwhile, in Washington, politicians were working Wednesday to end the partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

An electronics recycling company says it will open a processing facility in Forrest City, creating up to 75 jobs.

AMT E-Waste Solutions says it will open an electronics waste processing facility in the former Forrest City Grocery warehouse on Scott Street.

The company says it will give residents a safe method to dispose of electronics, such as televisions, computers and cell phones.

Chief Operating Officer Matt Person says the company will focus on serving eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee and northern Mississippi.

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