George Jared/ Talk Business & Politics

Nestlé will invest more than $100 million to expand the company’s production facility in Jonesboro to include a new line to produce Hot Pockets brand sandwiches, the company announced Wednesday. As part of the expansion, the company plans to hire at least 100 new employees during the next two years as well as renovate and add 90,000 square feet to its facility.

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station took questions Thursday from students in northeast Arkansas.
NASA

Nettleton School District STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) students did something Thursday that no one in Arkansas has ever done – talked directly to astronauts inside the International Space Station.

An aerial photo of the Big River Steel facility in November 2016. U.S. Steel Corporation is taking steps to acquire complete ownership of the plant.
Big River Steel

United States Steel Corp. is on the verge of becoming the sole owner of Big River Steel, the first “superproject” in the history of the Natural State.

U.S. Steel has exercised its call option to acquire the remaining equity of BRS for approximately $774 million from cash on hand. The company ended November with approximately $2.9 billion of liquidity, including about $1.7 billion in cash. The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including antitrust approval.

Dicamba damage
University of Arkansas

The debate over the use of dicamba use continues to rage throughout the country and in the courtroom and it will soon affect crop planning for 2021.

The broad-spectrum herbicide, which was first developed and registered in the late 1960s, has been the foundation of several marketed weed control measures and, more recently, genetically modified seed technologies.

Damage to Arkansas crops from Tropical Storm Laura.
University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service

Arkansas farmers are still calculating the damage in the wake of Tropical Storm Laura. The storm that hit the state Thursday produced gushing rains, high winds and a multitude of tornadoes in northeast Arkansas. Originally a hurricane, Laura was the first storm in state history to produce a tropical storm warning, according to the National Weather Service

Linda Collins and Rebecca O'Donnell
Facebook

Rebecca O’Donnell pleaded guilty Thursday in the death of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The plea deal includes charges of first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and two no-contest pleas to solicit murder in Jackson County.

O’Donnell had worked for Smith in her business ventures and on political campaigns. Had she not accepted the deal, O’Donnell was facing a potential death sentence if the case went to trial. 

rice fields
Mickey Liaw / Flickr.com

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned what looked to be abysmal conditions for Arkansas farmers into something worse as the growing season got underway, but one crop might provide a buffer – rice. Two crops, cotton and corn, could be especially hard hit through 2023, according to a model run by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

An ariel perspective of recent work to U.S. 67 in Jacksonville.
Google Earth

The Arkansas Department of Transportation will be awarded $40 million to reconstruct and improve two sections of US 67 northeast of Little Rock. U.S. Senators John Boozman, Tom Cotton, along with U.S. Reps Rick Crawford and French Hill announced the project on Tuesday.

The project will widen US 67 from four to six lanes, construct an overpass, convert frontage roads to one-way operation and reconstruct two interchanges. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.

Cotton field
Trisha Downing / WIkimedia Commons

For hundreds of years, the dark, nutrient-rich soils of the Arkansas Delta supported cotton farming. For more than a century, trade in this plant made this the most prosperous region in the state. As the 2000s unfolded, the cotton industry and supported industries such as ginning began a massive decline.

Cotton field
Trisha Downing / WIkimedia Commons

Cotton growers who have been financially hurt by a global drop in demand and market prices are now eligible for relief funding through the federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released additional details regarding the program, through which payments are now available for a number of non-specialty crops, including upland cotton.