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(Mountain Home) – The Friends of the Baxter County Library invite the community to their monthly meeting Wednesday, January 28 at 1:30 PM at the Donald W. Reynolds Library, 300 Library Hill in Mountain Home.

A presentation will be made by Heather Powell with the Twin Lakes Literacy Council about the challenges involved in learning English as a second language.

For information on all Library programs, visit the Library’s website at www.baxlib.org.

(Lamar) – Obtaining a quality soil sample is vital for receiving accurate nutrient recommendations for a field.

Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension, says soil samples need to be taken every three to four years. The average soil test assesses nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, organic matter, neutralizable acidity, cation exchange capacity and pH levels.

The best time to take a sample for forages and spring-seeded crops is when the field is idle; usually after harvest in the fall or winter.

For fields with winter wheat and fall-seeded crops, sampling during the idle time in the summer is best. Pre-plant or pre-side-dress nitrogen samples for corn should be taken in the spring as close to planned nitrogen application as possible. Sample cores need to be at least six to eight inches deep since too shallow of a sample can cause an overestimate of soil fertility levels.

According to Scheidt, grid soil sampling, which is sampling the field in 2.5 acres per sample, is economical when used in high yielding fields; especially when significant variations in soil tests are anticipated.

Interpreting soil tests are the most difficult part of the process but specialists from University of Missouri Extension always add recommendations that make it easier.

After collecting the soil take it to the nearest University of Missouri Extension county office. The staff there can help with the paperwork and get your results in seven to 10 days for a modest fee.

(Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint against Attorney General Leslie Rutledge that accused her violating state law by appearing in an outside group’s campaign ad last year.

Director Graham Sloan says the panel voted 4-0 on Friday to dismiss the complaint against Rutledge, a Republican who was sworn in last week as attorney general. Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell had filed the complaint against Rutledge over her appearance in a 30-second television spot by the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Campbell had argued Rutledge was illegally coordinating with an outside group, saying the $300,000 spent on the ad amounted to a campaign contribution.

(Jefferson City) (AP) – Transforming the Missouri Department of Transportation headquarters into a space for some legislative and executive branch employees is among the projects that could be funded with new bond revenues.

At issue is last year’s bonding plan for about $353 million of renovation projects at higher education institutions and state facilities, the Columbia Daily Tribune reports. A proposal for using that money sets aside $35 million to convert the MoDOT building, which is just a few paces from the Capitol, into the “Capitol Annex.” An additional $40 million would be used for stone repairs to stop leaks in the Capitol itself.

“It will provide more office space, more hearing rooms and, probably more important, get staff to where they have decent working conditions,” Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, said as he presented a list of projects Thursday to the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee.

Decisions on which legislative staff members and executive branch employees would move to the building have not been made, Senate Majority Leader Ron Richard said after the hearing.

Other Transportation Department buildings can house operations currently in the headquarters building, Richard said. Along with offices, the annex building would be outfitted with committee hearing rooms and a media center for lawmakers to do live television interviews.

Dozens of House members are now crammed into offices stacked on the Capitol’s first floor. The upper offices are cramped, hot and inaccessible to people with disabilities.

“Anyone who has been speaker of the House understands the problem,” said Richard, who was speaker from 2009 to 2011.

In his State of the State Address on Wednesday, Gov. Jay Nixon endorsed using the new bond authority. His budget proposal asks lawmakers to approve spending the money in the current fiscal year, a necessary step before the bonds can be issued.

by Summer Ballentine, AP

(Jefferson City) (AP) – State college and universities say they welcome the $12 million in extra funding Gov. Jay Nixon is seeking in the next budget, but it’s not enough to make up for years of underfunding.

Some universities said the proposed basic aid increase – a minimal gain from the current fiscal year’s more than $911 million and one of few increases in an otherwise stagnant budget plan – doesn’t compensate for rising costs and could lead to a tuition increase in the 2015-2016 academic year if the Legislature does not provide a higher bump.

Nixon’s funding boost, proposed this week, averages about 1.3 percent across the board, though it ranges from about 0.82 percent at St. Louis Community College to 1.93 percent at Ozarks Technical Community College. Funding in part depends on how well those institutions retain and graduate students, among other performance factors.

Nixon requested another $13 million for higher education if the Legislature passes proposals including expanding the Medicaid health program, although Republican legislative leaders have said that’s a nonstarter.

Efforts to issue bonds to repair aging state buildings or create new university labs appear to have more support from lawmakers, and Nixon proposed $200 million this week in bonds for higher education including more than $161 million for those repairs.

University of Central Missouri Chancellor Chuck Ambrose said state funding for core operations still hasn’t surpassed the amount given in 2000, despite rising inflation. That means the burden of other expenses has been shifted to students at Central Missouri and other universities around the state, Ambrose said. Central Missouri’s tuition was $99 per credit hour in 2000, and has risen to $242.15 per credit hour (with fees that did not exist in 2000) this school year.

Schools are further financially strapped by a 2007 state law capping tuition hikes to the same rate of increase as inflation without Department of Higher Education permission, although several have said that has helped keep colleges and universities more affordable compared to other states.

But that also means schools have cut budgets, forgone pay increases for staff for years and delayed needed building repairs.

“The funding levels simply haven’t kept pace with the costs,” St. Louis Community College Interim Chancellor Dennis Michaelis said. “One of the results of that has been a lot of pressure in higher education, whether Mizzou or SLCC, to not raise tuition.”

Missouri State University President Clifton Smart said finances at the Springfield school are getting at least slightly better after years of hardship, and employees received a pay raise in the last two years after a three-year span without one.

Still, without additional state money beyond what Nixon proposed, MSU might ask the Department of Higher Education to raise tuition 1 percent to 2 percent for out-of-state and graduate students, Smart said.

Whether lawmakers will increase higher education’s piece of the budgetary pie next fiscal year is unclear, said Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Columbia Republican and a leader in shaping the state budget.

“I don’t know if that’s something we can do for next year or not,” Schaefer said, referencing last session’s average 5 percent increase in performance-based funding for higher education. “But it’s definitely something I want to look at.”

by Sarah Skidmore Still, AP

FILE - In this Monday, April 7, 2014, file photo, aluminum bottles of Bud Light beer are on display at Alcoa headquarters in Pittsburgh. Anheuser-Busch says it is buying Seattle-based craft brewer Elysian Brewing Co. for an undisclosed sum, according to reports, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar, File)

FILE – In this Monday, April 7, 2014, file photo, aluminum bottles of Bud Light beer are on display at Alcoa headquarters in Pittsburgh. Anheuser-Busch says it is buying Seattle-based craft brewer Elysian Brewing Co. for an undisclosed sum, according to reports, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar, File)

(St. Louis) (AP) – Anheuser-Busch is buying Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Co., further expanding its collection of craft brewers as it tries to offset sagging sales of its flagship beers.

The financial terms of the deal announced Friday were not disclosed.

Anheuser-Busch is the U.S. arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, a Belgian company that is the world’s largest brewer. The company, which makes Budweiser and Bud Lite, has been combatting soft sales by buying up increasingly popular craft brewers.

While nationwide beer sales declined 1.9 percent in 2013, craft beer sales rose 17 percent, according to the Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers.

Anheuser-Busch announced in November that it was buying 10 Barrel Brewing of Oregon, raising the ire of many of its fans. That follows the purchase of Blue Point Brewing Co. on Long Island, New York, earlier in the year. It bought Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago in 2011. InBev also has a one-third share in a Northwest group that produces Red Hook, Widmer and Kona beers.

Anheuser-Busch and Elysian say the deal will bring the brewer’s popular beers – most notably Immortal IPA – to a larger audience. The deal includes Elysian’s brewery business and its four Seattle brewpubs. It is expected to close by the end of the first quarter.

“Throughout our journey we’ve been focused on brewing a portfolio of both classic and groundbreaking beers and supporting innovation and camaraderie in the beer industry,” Dick Cantwell, Elysian co-founder and head brewer, said. “By joining with Anheuser-Busch we’ll be able to take the next steps to bring that energy and commitment to a larger audience.”

Elysian was founded in 1995 by Cantwell along with partners Joe Bisacca and David Buhler, who will stay on following the acquisition.

The company is the fastest-growing brewery in Washington state. It sold more than 50,000 barrels of beer in 2014, with Immortal IPA accounting for more than a quarter of the company’s total volume.

It also makes a beer called Loser Pale Ale, which says “Corporate Beer Still Sucks” on its packaging. The beer celebrates Seattle-based independent music label Sub Pop Records and the line is a nod to the “Corporate Magazines Still Suck” T-shirt Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain once wore the cover of Rolling Stone.

Cantwell acknowledges that now the joke has another layer, but says the Elysian will keep brewing Loser Pale Ale after the acquisition is complete. The founders say they recognize some fans may be upset by their decision to sell to Anheuser-Busch, but say little will change.

“We have some loyal fans that are questioning it, but we are hoping they will take a breath … and see that what is still in the glass is amazing,” Buhler said.

Elysian’s beer is distributed in 11 states in the U.S. as well as Canada, Taiwan, Australia and Japan.

by Nomann Merchant, AP

(Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas Senate has approved middle-class tax cuts funded in part with a repeal of a $21 million capital gains tax cut approved two years ago.

Senators voted 30-3 Thursday to approve the cuts, a key campaign proposal of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The proposal reduces income taxes by 1 percent for people making between $21,000 and $75,000 a year.

Senate President Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, acknowledged concerns from a handful of senators that they were passing a tax cut before hearing Hutchinson’s full budget proposal. But Dismang says the governor was expected to give more details next week, and that the Senate would have another chance to vote on the bill if the House approves it with amendments, as expected.

by Andrew DeMillo, AP

(Little Rock) (AP) – While Gov. Asa Hutchinson has made it clear he wants to keep Arkansas’ compromise Medicaid expansion in place through the end of next year, what’s less certain is what happens after then for the thousands receiving health coverage through the program.

Hutchinson’s proposal to reauthorize the “private option” and create a task force to look at health care reforms leaves plenty of unanswered questions about the future of a program providing health insurance to more than 213,000 people. The possibilities range from a similar program to a complete overhaul of the state’s Medicaid system.

Lawmakers could move as quickly as next week on proposals setting up the task force and continuing the private option, crafted two years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

(North Little Rock) (AP) – The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled a meeting to discuss plans for developing a National Ambient Air Quality Standards state implementation plan.

The meeting is scheduled on Wednesday in the commission room at the Department of Environmental Quality’s headquarters in North Little Rock.

The new air quality standards for particulate matter up to 2.5 micrograms in size, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and lead are being added to the state air pollution control regulations in order to comply with federal standards issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The first meeting on the issue was conducted last month.

Stakeholders representing a variety of interested parties have been invited to participate in developing an implementation plan. Stakeholder meetings are open to the public as well.

(Little Rock) (AP) – Members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation have joined colleagues from other states in urging Secretary of State John Kerry to encourage Iraq to purchase more American-produced rice.

Arkansas Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Arkansas Reps. Rick Crawford and Bruce Westerman have signed a letter that seeks diplomatic assistance to improve trade relations with the Iraqi Grain Board. In recent years, the board has bought rice from other nations over lower cost American rice.

The letter asserts that the Iraqi Grain Board has not indicated that American rice is deficient in quality, grade or price.

Arkansas leads the nation in rice production, and rice is the top agricultural export for the state. Nationwide, rice production generates approximately $34 billion in economic activity annually, creating thousands of jobs in rural America.