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Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday

As the summer begins to wind down, parents inevitably turn to preparations to send their children back to school. A big part of that process is purchasing the supplies and clothes their kids will need as they head back to the classroom. Fortunately, Missouri has a three-day back-to-school sales tax holiday that exempts everything from school supplies to computers from sales tax.

Approved by the legislature in 2003, the three-day period allows parents to buy school-related items such as clothing, school supplies and computers without having to pay the state sales tax of 4.225 percent. In some cases, local municipalities have also chosen to honor the holiday, which means parents in these areas will be able to forego local sales tax as well. For a complete list of the cities and counties that have chosen not to participate, please click the following link:

This is a great way for Missourians to stretch their dollars by making the cost of going back to school a little more affordable. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of the holiday that begins Friday, Aug. 7 at 12:01 a.m. and runs through Sunday, Aug. 9. It’s important to note that the school supply tax exemption has a limit of $50 per purchase, while the clothing exemption has a $100 limit and the computer tax exemption has a limit of $3,500.

Legislature to Investigate Planned Parenthood

As the nation was stunned by allegations that Planned Parenthood may be selling tissues and organs from aborted fetuses for profit, Missouri quickly joined a long list of states that plan to thoroughly investigate these disturbing claims. In the Missouri House, the Ways and Means Committee will work with the Children and Families Committee to take a close look at the actions of Planned Parenthood in Missouri in an effort to illegal activities are not taking place in the Show-Me State.

The public outcry against Planned Parenthood began after an anti-abortion group released video showing a Planned Parenthood executive discuss how the organization disposes of the tissues and organs from aborted fetuses. Pro-life activists claim the video proves that Planned Parenthood is selling the tissues for profit, which is illegal. Planned Parenthood claims the allegations are not true and any costs associated with the tissues are there to cover expenses for transportation, etc.

Now, the House will join the Missouri Senate and Attorney General Chris Koster, who also are investigating the allegations against the national organization that also happens to be Missouri’s only abortion provider. The multiple investigations will look at every aspect of the organization and how it conducts its business in Missouri. The goal is to determine if Planned Parenthood has broken any laws in the state, and to take appropriate action if it has.

Medicaid Expansion Continues to Have Consequences in Other States

During recent years, legislators in states like Missouri have remained steadfast in their refusal to take federal dollars to expand Medicaid. Their argument from the beginning has been that, even with federal funding, growing the size of Medicaid would not be sustainable financially in the long-term. They felt the best way to help Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens was by keeping Medicaid at a financially responsible and sustainable level so that it can continue to provide health care to those most in need.

Today, states that have refused to expand Medicaid are pointing to the problems faced by those that did expand as examples of why it was the right decision to not expand. To date, more than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid have seen their enrollments greatly exceed projections. Kentucky saw more than 300,000 residents sign up, which was double the number projected and even greater than what was predicted through 2021. The end result is that the state will take on tens of millions in additional unexpected costs and those costs will climb into the hundreds of millions in the years to come. Other states like California, Washington and Oregon are facing similar financial challenges because of Medicaid expansion.

Currently, thirty states have expanded Medicaid so that adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible. The federal government presently pays for all of the costs of expansion, but will begin lowering its share of the financial burden so that states pay for 10 percent of the costs by 2020.

Legislators Ask Governor to Arm the National Guard

Following the tragic shooting in Tennessee that took the lives of five soldiers, legislators in Missouri called on the governor to allow members of the National Guard to be armed. Lawmakers stressed the importance of allowing National Guard members to defend themselves and their families on American soil. They also noted that governors in several other states, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana, quickly moved to allow the members of the National Guard in those states to be armed.

Access Missouri Scholarship Funding Increased

It was good news in recent weeks for families with children headed to college as the governor released funding to allow for more scholarship money. The governor released funding from the fiscal year 2015 budget that will allow scholarship amounts for the Access Missouri program to increase. The maximum award will increase for students who attend two-year schools to $850 from the current level of $660. For students who attend four-year colleges, the amount will increase from $1,500 to $1,850.

With the release of the funding, total state aid to the Access Missouri program is now at $73.7 million. The program is a needs-based scholarship to help students in low-income families. It provides scholarship assistance to approximately 50,000 students each year.

Ensuring Fairness in the Fee Office Bidding Process (HB 137)

A piece of legislation now set to become law will make an important change to the way the state considers businesses or groups to run local license offices. In effect, it will end a pay-for-play scheme where the state revenue department gives preference to bids that offer the state a kickback.

The goal with the bill is to put an end the games played by the Department of Revenue with the state’s license offices. The sponsor of the bill has said the current system is a pay-for-play scheme that doesn’t treat well-intentioned businesses and charitable organizations fairly. This bill that is now set to become law provides a much-needed level of fairness that will ensure the competition in the bidding process is based on professionalism, experience and customer service.

To accomplish this goal, the bill prohibits the Commissioner of the Office of Administration from awarding points on a request for proposal for a contract license office to a bidder for a return-to-the-state provision offer. It’s important to note as well that there is currently a lawsuit pending filed by fee offices that believe the current system significantly disadvantages experienced license office operators.

As always, it is an honor to serve the good folks of the 153rd District. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-1066 or you can e-mail me at



(Forsyth) – When the rain ends or slows and the sun comes out, it becomes time to put up hay according to Colin Hill, agronomy graduate assistant with University of Missouri Extension.

“But, with all of the moisture in southwest Missouri, it is important to ensure hay moisture levels are correct before baling to prevent hot hay quality loss and the chance of fire,” said Hill.

The moisture of dry hay at baling is critical to hay quality during storage and can be the difference between high-quality hay and trash, according to Hill.

Small square bales should be baled at less than 22 percent moisture, and round bales should be less than 18 percent moisture before baling.

“Hay baled with more than 22 percent moisture should not be put into storage for at least 30 days, especially if hay will be stacked several layers deep,” said Hill.

Safe storage temperatures are less than 120 degrees, above this excessive molding and heating occur, fire danger begins at an internal temperature of 170. Bale temperatures usually peak four to seven days after baling, and can rapidly increase if conditions are favorable.

Bales stored outside don’t present a threat of barn fire danger, but quality remains an issue according to Hill. Excessive heating and molding can cause the loss of as much as one-third of the feeding value of hay bales at 28 percent moisture.

“Outside storage combined with loss of feed value due to poor digestibility can result in a loss of total feed during storage of around 25 percent. That results in a 25 percent loss of the initial investments like land, fertilizer, time, and fuel,” said Hill.

Following some general guidelines when storing dry hay outside can reduce storage losses.

For starters, always store bales on a well-drained area. Some farmers place bales on poles or crushed rock to minimize losses on the bottom of bales.

Use a minimum of three feet between bale rows for air circulation, and always place bale rows going north to south.

Avoid storing bales under trees and in the shade of buildings. If space is available, store some bales inside, especially higher quality hay that should be used near the end of the feeding period.

“Investing in a hay moisture tester and a bale thermometer can improve hay quality and remove guesswork and stress from haymaking,” said Hill.

See MU Extension guide sheet G4575 or contact Colin Hill at the University Missouri Extension Center in Taney County at (417)-546-4431 for more information.

by Rick Callahan, AP

Corn damaged by record rains that repeatedly submerged fields, stands in a field near Atlanta, Ind., Friday, July 31, 2015.  Illinois and Indiana both saw record June rainfalls, and several other key farm states were also swamped by waves of rain that have set the stage for big crop losses this fall, with up to $500 million in corn and soybean losses projected in Indiana.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Corn damaged by record rains that repeatedly submerged fields, stands in a field near Atlanta, Ind., Friday, July 31, 2015. Illinois and Indiana both saw record June rainfalls, and several other key farm states were also swamped by waves of rain that have set the stage for big crop losses this fall, with up to $500 million in corn and soybean losses projected in Indiana.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(Indianapolis) (AP) – Weeks of record rainfalls drenched Don Lamb’s cornfields this summer, drowning some plants and leaving others yellowed, 2 feet tall and capable of producing little, if any, grain.

The 48-year-old central Indiana farmer can’t recall anything like the deluges he’s seen from late May on this summer; the latest was a 4-inch downpour a week ago. Neither can his father, who’s been farming for 50 years.

“I always try to stay optimistic about crops, but this is a year where it’s been really tough to be optimistic,” said Lamb, who began farming in 1989 near Lebanon, Indiana.

It’s a scene playing out in Illinois and Indiana, both of which set rainfall records for June, and four other key farm states. Climatologists are assessing what brought on the repeated precipitation, keeping corn and soybean fields from drying out and setting the stage for big crop losses in several states just a year after record harvests. Those losses and their impact on crop prices are expected to be offset by bountiful harvests in the western cornbelt states of Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas.

The Midwestern Regional Climate Center in Champaign, Illinois, is looking into the causes of the rain-sodden summer – Illinois saw twice the normal amount of rain for the month of June alone – including whether the largest El Nino system in a decade or climate change played a role.

A stationary front that stalled over the region in late spring funneled in the parade of drenching low-pressure systems that swept the region throughout June and into July, said Bryan Peake, one of the center’s climatologists.

“Some stations were getting three or four inches in a day, and some were all the way up to six or seven inches in extreme cases, just really astonishing amounts,” he said.

East-central Illinois farmer Mark Henrichs isn’t sure whether the crippling rains, which came three years after a devastating drought, might be tied to changes climate scientists have predicted global warming might bring. But the 58-year-old knows they were highly unusual.

“When you shatter rainfall records that have been existed for over 100 years, it does make you wonder … If you’re shattering rainfall records that are that old, you have to be experiencing atrocious damage. That goes hand in hand,” said Henrichs, who has farmed for 40 years near Chatsworth, Illinois.

About half of his corn crop is now in “horrible” condition and the other half is average after 16 inches of rain in June and close to a foot in July, he said. Last year, he averaged 240 bushels of corn per acre; this year, he expects 165 bushels per acre.

Some corn and soybean plants were drowned, others were stunted with unhealthy roots while the rains washed away soil nutrients. Soybeans can still recover yields if conditions improve during the remainder of the growing season, but corn plants can rebound little this late in the season.

Indiana has seen the worst of it, said Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University. A quarter of its corn crop is listed as “poor” or “very poor” and Hurt predicts $500 million in corn and soybean crop losses. This week, Gov. Mike Pence asked U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for a disaster declaration for 53 of Indiana’s 92 counties because of crop damage and other flooding-related losses.

Elsewhere, “poor” or “very poor” corn crop conditions are being seen in a fifth of Ohio’s crop, 18 percent in Missouri, 15 percent in Illinois and about one-tenth in Kansas and Michigan.

The first clear assessment of the extent of the Midwest crop losses will come Aug. 12, when the USDA releases its first harvest estimates. But Hurt expects it won’t be October until a truly accurate estimate emerges because of the many remaining variables, including warmer, drier weather in the forecast for August.

There’s no unscathed cropland in central Indiana’s Boone County, a fact worsened by farmers’ inability to boost crops with fertilizer, said Curt Emanuel, an agricultural educator for the Purdue Extension. Some farmers have taken the rare step of using crop-dusters to apply fertilizer on cornfields.

At this point, Emanuel said, farmers have competing wants: drier weather but weekly rainfall, because some corn didn’t develop deep root systems – a problem should it get hot and really dry.

“If it dries out, even for a few days, all of a sudden we could have drought stresses on those plants,” he said. “It’s just that kind of year.”

(MSU-West Plains photo)

(MSU-West Plains photo)

(West Plains) – These six students were among 17 who recently received their high school equivalency diplomas through Missouri State University-West Plains’ Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) Program and particiapted in graduation ceremonies Sunday afternoon, July 26, at the West Plains Civic Center theater.

An estimated 100 family members, friends and university officials were on hand to congratulate the graduates and enjoy refreshments after the ceremony.

Front row from left: Jennifer Wake and Samantha Burlin, both of West Plains, and Nicole Peery, Dora; back row: Calvin Fuller Jr., West Plains, Robert Peytan Bassett, Alton, and Allison Routh, Mtn. View. Other graduates include Alyssa Thompson, Crystal Arambula, Matthew Davis, Drew Burke, Kelly Moshier and Michael Devencenzi, all of West Plains; Angela Lockerby and Connor McManus, both of Alton; Tiffany Fisher and Janeva Stoltzfus, both of Mtn. View; and Darrell Rohrer, Summersville.

Tracy Connelly (left) with ASUMH Chancellor Dr. Robin Myers (right). (provided)

Tracy Connelly (left) with ASUMH Chancellor Dr. Robin Myers (right). (provided)

(Mountain Home) – The Office of Academic Affairs, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society – Beta Iota Epsilon Chapter, and the Fran Coulter Honors Program at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home (ASUMH) held the 2015 Academic Awards and Honors Luncheon on April 24. The event featured recognition of Phi Theta Kappa inductees, medaling of Fran Coulter Honors Program members, as well as individual achievement awards selected by faculty members.

The Overall Academic Achiever Award for the 2014-2015 year was presented by ASUMH Chancellor Dr. Robin Myers and Vice Chancellor for Academics Dr. Eggensperger to Tracy Connelly of Mountain Home, AR.

Other academic awards presented at the luncheon included:

Accounting, Jennifer Bailey of Jordan, AR; American National Government, Tracy Connelly of Mountain Home, AR; Art, Steven Holtz of Mountain Home, AR; Automotive, Charles Rehrig of Lakeview, AR; Biological Health Care Sciences, Alyssa Pendergrass of Mountain Home, AR; Biological Sciences, Tori Dunaway of Henderson, AR; Chemistry, Adam Gist of Mountain Home, AR; Composition, Anthony Sanderson of Mountain Home, AR; Computer Information Systems, Computer Graphic Specialist, Amber Nelson of Mountain Home, AR; Computer Information Systems, Networking Specialist, Chris Hall of Mountain Home, AR; Computer Information Systems, Web Development Specialist, Hannah Chapman of Mountain Home, AR; Criminal Justice, Wendy Troxclair of Mountain Home, AR; Economics, Taylor Basinger of Gassville, AR; Elementary Education, Sydney Shrable of Melbourne, AR; Emergency Medical Sciences/Paramedic, James Pinkston of Calico Rock, AR; Funeral Science, Beatrix “Trixie” Wiley of Alma, AR; Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, Billy Davenport of Clarkridge, AR; History, Gabriella Tovar of Viola, AR; Literature, Steven Holtz of Mountain Home, AR; Management, Accounting/Finance Emphasis, Kathy Acerra of Mountain Home, AR; Management, Business Development Emphasis, David Qualls of Alexander, AR; Management, Hospitality Emphasis, Rachel Nash of Midway, AR; Management, Office Emphasis, Amanda Woodard of Gassville, AR; Mathematics, Lisa Toms of Lakeview, AR; Mechatronics, Jeffery Bourg of Yellville, AR; Physical Education, Jordan Barns of Mountain Home, AR; Physical Science, Toni Bliss King of Gassville, AR; Practical Nursing Program, Laura Rouse of Mountain Home, AR; Psychology, Sarah Reynolds of Mountain Home, AR; Registered Nursing Program, Amber Stanley of West Plains, MO; Sociology, Anthony Sanderson of Mountain Home, AR; Spanish, Mary Marston of Gassville, AR; Speech, Sydney Wendfeldt of Mountain Home, AR; Theatre, Elise Graham of Gamaliel, AR; Welding AAS Pipe Emphasis, Kyle (Gary) Brison of Mountain Home, AR; Welding AAS Gas Tungsten Arc Emphasis, Rebecca Nelson of Gassville, AR; Welding Technical Certificate, Aaron Loyd of Mountain Home, AR.

For more information on Phi Theta Kappa or the Fran Coulter Honors Program at ASUMH, contact Dr. Rebecca Baird at (870) 508-6139.

From bottom center:  Patricia Evins.  Second row from left:  Sarah Parker, Lissie McLean, Summer Brotherton, Whitney Brooks, Melanie Martin (sponsor), Tracie Joiner (sponsor). Third row:  Lyndsi Stoops, Neely Gobel, Robin Baumgardner, Mae Pavelka. Top row:  Zane Johnson. (provided)

From bottom center: Patricia Evins. Second row from left: Sarah Parker, Lissie McLean, Summer Brotherton, Whitney Brooks, Melanie Martin (sponsor), Tracie Joiner (sponsor). Third row: Lyndsi Stoops, Neely Gobel, Robin Baumgardner, Mae Pavelka. Top row: Zane Johnson. (provided)

(West Plains) – Members of the West Plains High School Senior BETA Club traveled to Nashville, Tennessee on June 23-26 to join 10,000 other BETA scholars from across the nation to compete in the National BETA Convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

Beta club members competed at the state completion in December with 4 students qualifying to compete at the national convention. The qualifiers were: Zane Johnson-Science; Elizabeth McLean-Acrylic Painting; Sarah Parker-Mathematics and Patricia Evins-Agriculture. The students represented West Plains well well and brought home the following awards: Sarah Parker-Top ten in Mathematics and Patricia Evins-5th place in Agriculture.

The district wants to thank to the following local donors who helped make the trip possible: Wood & Huston Bank, Colton’s Steakhouse, Autozone and West Plains Optimist Club.

(Carthage) – The first two weeks of August are appropriate times to plant some garden vegetables in southern Missouri according to Robert Balek, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Specific varieties can be planted by seed, or by setting out starts,” said Balek.

Garden soil should be prepared for planting. In established gardens, some additional fertilizer may be needed, especially if crops or excessive weeds have been removed from the site previously this season.

Balek recommends choosing your fall garden selections wisely.

“Some vegetables are best planted in spring and early summer and require the longer season, or warmer temperatures to provide a good yield. However, there are certain varieties that can provide a rewarding yield when planted in late summer,” said Balek.

Individuals can jump-start their fall garden by setting out plants like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts.

“In southern Missouri, these are best set out in early to mid-August after some summer heat has passed, and the cooler weather will soon be upon them,” said Balek. “August plantings of these varieties are typically higher quality than spring plantings due to cool fall weather.”

Other vegetable crops can be directly seeded into the soil.

Snap bush bean varieties recommended for fall planting include Contender, Provider, Derby, Strike, Tema, Tendercrop, Top Crop, and Purple Queen. Half-runner types include Mountaineer, State, and Striped. Wax bush bean varieties include Cherokee Wax, Gold Crop, Slender Wax, Gold mine, Gold Rush, and Eureka. Other bean types or varieties may not produce in a fall garden.

Beets and carrots can be started from seed for a fall garden, with success. Sweet corn can yield if planted before Aug. 15.

Salad greens for fall planting include Loose-Leaf Lettuce, Butterhead Lettuce, mustard, and spinach.

For more information, visit and type “vegetable planting calendar” in the search box, or locate publication G6201.

Pictured, Lisa Riggs, a physical therapist at OMC Rehabilitation Services, checks the blood pressure on student Addie Brunson during the OMC free school athletic physicals. (provided)

Pictured, Lisa Riggs, a physical therapist at OMC Rehabilitation Services, checks the blood pressure on student Addie Brunson during the OMC free school athletic physicals. (provided)

(West Plains) – On July 20, 411 area student athletes received free athletic physicals at Ozarks Medical Center’s Shaw Medical Building.

Athletic physicals are required for students who plan to participate in any school-sponsored sport. Local physicians and providers conducted the physicals for student athletes through 12th grade attending local schools.

“Thank you to all the student athletes who took part in the physicals. We appreciate our amazing team who made this possible,” said Pam Ream, Director of OMC Rehabilitation Services. “This event is a fantastic community benefit and a convenient way for student athletes to fulfill the requirement of a sports physical. We are proud to offer free athletic physicals in support of our local athletes and their commitment to participating in activities that promote community wellness.”

Provider volunteers included Dr. Liana Makarian, OMC Cancer Treatment Center; Dr. Rob Martin, Burton Creek Medical Clinic; Dr. William A. McGee, OMC Heart Care Services; and Dr. Charles Morgan, OMC Cancer Treatment Center; Nurse Practitioners Glennette Haney, Thayer Medical Clinic; Madalyn Hicks, OMC Urgent Care Clinic; Mary Anne Vaughn, Alton Medical Clinic; and Shawna Middleton.

Volunteers included Amanda Kellett, Aimee Jarrett, Amy Lipford, Angie Garner, Ann cisco, Anne Kimbrough, Billye Williams, Brian Cote, Brian Pence, Brody Smith, Carolyn Valade, Cathy Driscoll, Christina Romans, Cindy Hopper, Dona Paschall, Doug Dunbar, Gay Watson, Greg Peugh, Janet Stasney, Jennifer Wheeler, Jo Farrow, Julie Dunbar, Karmen Cressman, Kat Scott, Katie Mahan, Kelly Johnson, Kevin Hicks, Kristy Allen, Kristy Kassing, LaDonna Sullivan, Lee Parker, Linda Roark, Lindsey Thompson, Lisa Riggs, Lorenda Roberson, Lori Pendergrass, Marcus Lipford, Marilyn Clinton, Meagan Johnson, Megan Thompson, Melissa Clark, Rabi Sahoo, Rebecca Williams, Rex Wynn, Sara Sydow, Sarah Wiggs, Sharon Sowder, Sherry Zajiceck, Sheryl Emery, Stacie Huffman, Steve Culver, Theresa Speake, Tonya Rackley, Treda Traw, Trena Parker, and Wanda Roark.

Organizers included Pam Ream, Misty McCrackin, Erin Roberts, Josh Drummond, Melissa Smith and Megan Thompson.

Ream also gave a special thank you to the coaching staff from West Plains High School for volunteering.

For more information about Ozarks Medical Center or other free screenings, call 417-257-6735 or visit

(West Plains) – Area residents can get their first look at the 2015 Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team in action at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 15, during the annual Grizzly Alumni Volleyball Match at the West Plains Civic Center arena.

The contest, which is being held in conjunction with the university’s annual Welcome Week activities, will be free and will pit the 2015 Grizzlies against players from previous squads.

“This is always a fun event for us and our fans,” Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said.  “It’s a chance to see this year’s team for the first time and some familiar faces from the past.”

The alumni will take on a Grizzly team that returns seven players from last year’s squad – sophomores Susannah Kelley, a 5-foot, 8-inch setter from Jonesboro, Arkansas; Zori Curry, a 6-foot, 2-inch middle attacker from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Pulotu Manoa, a 5-foot, 11-inch outside hitter from Concord, California; Gabby Edmondson, a 5-foot, 10-inch outside hitter from Christchurch, New Zealand; Ashley Bishton, a 6-foot, 2-inch middle/right side attacker from Liberty, Missouri; Breanna Taylor, a 6-foot outside hitter from Houston, Texas; and Guro Froberg, a 5-foot, 11-inch outside hitter from Askim, Norway.

Joining the returners will be transfer freshmen Stephanie Phillips, a 6-foot, 2-inch outside/right side attacker from Thornlands, Australia, and Lara Temel, a 6-foot, 1-inch middle/right side attacker from Istanbul, Turkey; along with freshmen Autumn Reese, a 5-foot, 6-inch defensive specialist from Ozark, Missouri; Alyssa Young, a 5-foot, 10-inch outside/right side attacker from Billings, Missouri; Maja Petronijevic, a 5-foot, 6-inch defensive specialist from Belgrade, Serbia; Abigail Bergman, a 5-foot, 6-inch defensive specialist from Perryville, Missouri; and Blanca Izquierdo, a 5-foot, 9-inch setter from Madrid, Spain.

For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, visit its website at

(West Plains) – The West Plains Soccer Association is now accepting Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 soccer registrations for children ages 3 to 14.

Association officials say the cost is only $50 per child, which includes a jersey, 8 to 10 games in fall 2015 season and 8 to 10 games in the spring 2016 season.

West Plains Soccer Association Board Members will be at the West Plains Civic Center on August 3, 5, 18, and 20 from 5:30-7 PM. Parents are asked to bring payment and a copy of their child’s birth certificate. You may also register at

The deadline to register is Friday, August 21, and the fall season starts Saturday, September 12.