Smart Talk, Sept. 3 

Pine Bluff success stories


The Wall Street Journal last week published what it said was the first public acknowledgment by major league baseball star Torii Hunter of a family matter. The Pine Bluff native learned just before Christmas 2005 that he and his three brothers had a half-brother they never knew about before. Days later, Brandon Thurman, then 17, joined them for Christmas dinner. Thurman's mother, Gloria Hampton, had not revealed Brandon's father, but she filled in over the years, encouraging her son through school, Junior ROTC and athletics.

The occasion of the feature story was another happy chapter in the family's history, not always easy because of tough street life in Pine Bluff and the father's struggles with a crack addiction. (He's now said to be clean thanks to treatment with financial help from Hunter, who makes $18 million a year playing for the Angels.)  Brandon Thurman graduated this year from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He's now training for deployment to the Middle East. The boys' father, Theotis Hunter says now, “.. it's all good.”


How will you spend yours?


The Arkansas Lottery Commission has announced that Powerball ticket sales — a $1 chance for huge winnings in a multi-stte lottery — should go on sale Oct. 31 in Arkansas.

Timing was fortuitous. It was just after a retired state employee in South Carolina won a $260 million jackpot. You can take that in 29 yearly payouts, but many favor the lump sum method. On this jackpot it would have been $129 million. Take out 46 percent for state and federal taxes and you clear about $70 million.

Dream if you must. Odds of winning the big jackpot are about 1 in 195 million.




Public Policy Polling, a telephone polling operation based in North Carolina, drove chatter in political circles last week with a poll showing a low approval rating (36 percent) for incumbent U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln and a puny showing against three potential Republican opponents, none with name recognition among more than 7 percent of voters. The matchups showed:

• Lincoln 40, state Sen. Gilbert Baker, 42.

• Lincoln, 40, Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman, 41

• Lincoln, 40,  Dardanelle native Tom Cotton, currently on active military duty, 39.

Only Coleman is an announced candidate. All results are considered statistical dead heats because of the error margin.

To drive up her feel-good quotient, Lincoln announced a free tailgate barbecue with brisket, beverages and photo ops with the senator before the University of Arkansas football game opener Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.



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