The line is open. Final words:
* $2.2 MILLION GIFT TO CHILDREN'S: Arkansas Children's Hospital announced today a $2.2 million gift from the estate of Thomas Stephens, a retired metallurgical engineer who lived in Hot Springs Village and died last October. He had a long interest in children's health care and his gift will go to the hospital's $160 million fund drive, particular for programs including vascular anomalies/cleft lip and palate, dental and ophthalmology, as well as the Angel One transport program.
* ONE OF THEIR OWN: The Arkansas Democratic Party has a safe pick for keynote speaker at its Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner April 18 (a good bit better than Bobby Jindal, who's headlining the Republicans' spring counterpart) — Gov. Mike Beebe. Drew Westen, author of "The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation," also will speak.
* MILLION DOLLAR WINNER: The Arkansas Lottery said Frankie Williams of Forrest City won $1 million in the Play It Again Second Chance Drawing with a $20 losing Diamond Dazzler ticket she'd bought at Jordan's Kwik Stop in West Helena. The state and federal government will get about a third of that off the top.
* HAWKER BEECHCRAFT DEAL PROGRESS: Hawker Beechcraft said today it had received bankruptcy court approval to negotiate a sale of the company to Superior Aviation Beijing. This gives the company up to 45 days to negotiatve over a "strategic combination" that would preserve jobs and product lines. The company operates a major plane finishing facility in Little Rock.
* BIG MONEY IN GAMBLING: Roundup of the most recent reporting on spending on casino-related petition campaigns:
FOR CASINOS: Three different entities have reported spending on the casino amendment being led on the ground in Arkansas by Nancy Todd — Arkansas Counts ($7,165 in contributions, with $5,000 from Tom Boyce of Branson); Arkansas Development LLC ($175,000 in contributions from Evergreen Investments), and Nancy Todd Poker Palace ($59,600 in contributions, including $30,000 from SKAP Investments and $20,000 from Evergreen Investments.) The more than $240,000 comes almost entirely from Branson, Mo.,-area investors. As I reported earlier, registered agent for SKAP Investments is Marc Williams of Branson. He is CFO of HCW LLC, a development firm whose projects have included Branson Landing and hotels in that area. Evergreen Investments of Lebanon, Mo., is headed by Stephen Plaster, and his firm is also an investor in Branson Landing.
AGAINST CASINOS: Delaware North, which owns the Southland casino in West Memphis, has so far put $599,000 into its campaign to fight the casino proposal.
* WHERE IS BOBBY PETRINO?: On July 17, the former Hog football coach was caddying for his daughter Katie at a Kentucky golf tournament. Order your own photo from the Louisville Courier Journal.