Smart Talk, May 15 

Go, Judge


Bill Wilson, an end and linebacker, played in Hendrix College's last football game, a 7-to-6 victory over hated rival Ouachita Baptist College in 1960. He still had a year of eligibility left when Hendrix dropped football. Now, federal Judge William R. Wilson Jr. wonders if he can use that eligibility when Hendrix resumes playing football, possibly around 2010, and whether he might get a chance to play quarterback, an old dream. “I'd have to be a drop-back quarterback, though,” he says. “I couldn't do much rolling out.”

Wilson is a member of the Hendrix Board of Trustees that has  decided to take up football again. He said he was opposed at first, but the president and other trustees brought him around with their arguments that a non-scholarship football team could help increase enrollment and add diversity to the student body.

Hendrix sports teams are called Warriors today, just as they were when Wilson played. But the symbol then was an Indian. Hendrix recently replaced the Indian with a Viking, apparently thinking  there'd be fewer complaints. Wilson said he wasn't told of the change in advance, or he would have suggested a change to Bulldogs. Or back to Bulldogs. That's what the Hendrix football team was called in 1916, when Wilson's father was the captain.   


Your dollars at work: Triple dipping


David White, warden at the Tucker Max prison, is retiring for 30 days. Then he'll go back to work and collect retirement and his regular pay, thanks to what some would call a loophole in the Arkansas Public Employment Retirement System that benefits long-term employees.

White “isn't plowing new ground,” state prison spokesman Dina Tyler said. She noted that the director, Larry B. Norris, and other employees of the Department of Corrections, had also taken advantage of the deal. It goes like this: To encourage experienced employees to stay on after they've become eligible for retirement (early after 28 years or full after 30), they may go into what's called the DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Program). DROP allows workers to keep working while accruing 75 percent of their retirement benefits (with compounded 6 percent interest) in an account in escrow. When their eligibility for DROP expires after seven years (or after they leave the system), they can go back to work after not working for 30 days. If they return to their jobs, they'll receive 100 percent of their retirement plus the account as a lump sum or annuity, as well as a paycheck.

APERS head Gail Stone said that out of 43,000 public employees, only about 2,000 are in the DROP program. Those who are retired from cabinet agencies aren't guaranteed their jobs back, Stone said.


Cheaper by the dozen and a half


The Peabody Hotel promoted its Mother's Day buffet last Sunday by welcoming the famous Duggar clan from Tontitown down to the hotel. The hotel comped a Saturday night room and the fancy Sunday brunch buffet for Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 17 children. In case you're counting: The buffet cost $39.95 for adults, $16.95 for kids 6-12 and free for younger tots. For the Duggars, that meal would have cost about $480 before tax and tip.

The news release announcing the Duggars' presence at the Peabody was well timed. The next day came news that Michelle, 41, was expecting the couple's 18th child around New Year's day. The newborn will join seven sisters and 10 brothers. There are two sets of twins. The Duggars have made something of a business of their king-sized family. It is a continuing feature of the Discovery Health/TLC cable channel, which filmed the Duggar invasion of the Peabody. The Duggars say they intend to continue having children as long as God wills it. Michelle has been pregnant, in total, more than 11 years of her life.



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