It has been a pleasure this holiday season to visit many of the senior centers in my district and to ride in the parades. It is always good to get to visit and listen to you. Merry Christmas.

Starting next school year with the class of 2018, whose members will start high school in August as ninth graders, every Arkansas public high school must offer at least one "digitally delivered" course, such as an online course or a webinar, to graduate to comply with the provisions in a state law. It is a new rule because it is essential that high school students experience courses taught via technology because in higher education institutions and technical schools, you have to know ow to take digitally delivered course. That seems to be the direction it is moving.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is a small agency that employs 90 people who recruit new industries to Arkansas and who work to encourage expansion of existing industries. In the past few weeks there has been some good economic news throughout Arkansas.

In Mountain Home 50 new jobs will be created by Hamilton Scientific-Epoxyn Products, in Pine Bluff Summit Foods will restore 100 jobs to a poultry processing plant that closed in the summer. Hewlett-Packard just announced that it plans on adding about 200 jobs in their Conway facility. Most of those will be demanding technical, engineering and technical skills.

In Malvern, Prime-Line, will add 50 new jobs after a $6.7 million investment in a new facility. They manufacture fiberboard molding. Vinh Long, a company based in Viet Nam, will invest $5 million in a Morrilton plant and create about 75 jobs making storage furniture and kitchen cabinets. American Tubing will invest $3.2 million in a Springdale plant that makes copper tubing and will add 50 employees.

In Batesville, Ozark Mountain Poultry will expand and add 250 jobs, Here in our area Thermold Magazines, a maker of parts for firearms, announced that it was moving its U.S. Headquarters from North Caroline to Fort Smith. There will be 65 new jobs and an investment of $7 million. There are several other new expansions. The AEDC administers numerous grant programs to promote small business, filming movies and TV shows in Arkansas, minority-owned firms, the training of workers for high tech fields and job creation in poor areas.

If you would like to contact me, email me at or call my office at 650-1884 or write me at P.O. Box 2387, Greenwood, AR 72936.