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Smart Talk, Nov. 12



No problema


Only 1 percent of Arkansans consider illegal immigration to be an important problem, according to the University of Arkansas's 2009 Arkansas Poll. Pollsters from the UA's political science department found that the economy, jobs and wages were the highest concern (39 percent), followed by healthcare (16 percent), education (6 percent), government/taxes/politics (5 percent) and crime (3 percent). Thirty other issues (unspecified by the poll) were a concern to less than 1 percent of the population.

On other issues relating to immigration, opinion has changed little over the past three years. Only 9 percent of Arkansans think undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. to work for an amount of time, 57 percent would allow undocumented immigrants to become citizens if they would pay back taxes and learn English, and 2 percent would allow undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. with no requirements.

The poll can be found at


‘Don't mess with trolley'


A reader inquired about an enigmatic traffic sign at the corner of Markham and Scott Streets. Facing Scott Street from the north, at the foot of the bridge across the Arkansas River, the electronic sign says “No right turn around tracks.” “I'm not sure how to comply,” the reader says.

We put the question to Assistant City Manager Bryan Day. He checked with the traffic department and provided an explanation.

First off, the sign is dark until it's electrically tripped by a trolley car coming over the bridge from North Little Rock. When the sign comes on, the idea is to tell people that the trolley has the right of way at the Markham and Scott intersection, where the trolley turns left onto Markham. In other words, if you're driving north on Scott, don't try to turn right on Markham while the trolley's in the area or you're likely to get smacked.



From a small town,

an essayist


An Arkansas student's essay  on the effect of the recession on small town Arkansas won The Nation's top college prize in its annual National Student Writing Contest. Jim Miller, a 2009 graduate of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, beat out hundreds of contestants from across the country with “The Natural Order of a Small Town.” From his essay:

“The smallest library in the entire United States resides in a rural town in Arkansas, and it has no books in it. There is a blue tarp over the roof because it started leaking a few years ago. Small towns in the area are a lot like this tiny 15-by-24-foot library. These erstwhile communities are disappearing, leaving nothing but road signs, with lonely post offices, empty parks and closed gas stations.”

Miller, 24, now a graduate student at HSU in liberal arts, was referring to the library in Norman, near where he grew up in Fancy Hill. He writes about the drying up of small towns, dwindling populations, the lack of local jobs. “Some women, like my mother, sew cuffs on firemen's gloves in a factory. They are happy to have a job with good insurance. … It numbs the realization that you are hardly getting paid anything.”

Miller won $1,000 for the essay, but he says its publication is worth more to him. The essay can be read in full at


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