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Smart Talk Sept. 22

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Ride the bus Two weeks ago, we checked gasoline prices on arkansasgasprices.com and found a 50-cent range in the price of a gallon of regular (cheapest at a Citgo in Guy; most expensive a Fuel Mart in Turrell). Most of the highest prices were concentrated in Northeast Arkansas. The cheapest prices were mostly in the central and southwestern parts of the state. The difference has to do with points of supply, says Ann Hines of the Arkansas Oil Marketers Association, and what they’re paying for fuel. Northeast Arkansas gets most of its gasoline through a line terminating in Memphis that was down most of the week in question. The barge terminals there were also affected by reduced barge traffic on the Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Two weeks later, prices overall had dropped a bit, but the high-low spread was still 47 cents, with the lowest in remote Marshall and the highest in Hardy. Not just any donations in a storm A reader wanted to know why the hurricane shelter operated by the Red Cross at the state fairgrounds wouldn’t accept a donation of used clothing and toys. The national Red Cross website explains. Although the organization acknowledges would-be donors are well intentioned, it says that sorting through, cleaning, and shipping loads of used clothing costs more financially and in personnel resources than distributing vouchers so disaster victims can purchase exactly what they need. Trucking in non-essential items can also clog already damaged roads in disaster zones, making it even harder to get in necessities like food, water and medicine, according to the website. From here to Iraq Discovery/Times, a spin-off of the Discovery Channel, is set to debut a new reality series that hits close to home: “Off To War,” which follows members of the Arkansas National Guard’s 39th Infantry and their families as they deploy to Iraq. For those with Comcast digital cable, the first of those new one-hour episodes will premiere Saturday, Oct. 15, at 9 p.m. on channel 111. Another new episode is set to air every Saturday night in October and November. The series focuses on 57 citizen-soldiers from Clarksville. The first three episodes of the series, created by Arkansan documentary filmmakers Craig and Brent Renaud, debuted to high praise on Discovery/Times in 2004. On the strength of viewer and critical response, the channel commissioned another seven episodes of the series. . The difference has to do with points of supply, says Ann Hines of the Arkansas Oil Marketers Association, and what they’re paying for fuel. Northeast Arkansas gets most of its gasoline through a line terminating in Memphis that was down most of the week in question. The barge terminals there were also affected by reduced barge traffic on the Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Two weeks later, prices overall had dropped a bit, but the high-low spread was still 47 cents, with the lowest in remote Marshall and the highest in Hardy. Not just any donations in a storm A reader wanted to know why the hurricane shelter operated by the Red Cross at the state fairgrounds wouldn’t accept a donation of used clothing and toys. The national Red Cross website explains. Although the organization acknowledges would-be donors are well intentioned, it says that sorting through, cleaning, and shipping loads of used clothing costs more financially and in personnel resources than distributing vouchers so disaster victims can purchase exactly what they need. Trucking in non-essential items can also clog already damaged roads in disaster zones, making it even harder to get in necessities like food, water and medicine, according to the website. From here to Iraq Discovery/Times, a spin-off of the Discovery Channel, is set to debut a new reality series that hits close to home: “Off To War,” which follows members of the Arkansas National Guard’s 39th Infantry and their families as they deploy to Iraq. For those with Comcast digital cable, the first of those new one-hour episodes will premiere Saturday, Oct. 15, at 9 p.m. on channel 111. Another new episode is set to air every Saturday night in October and November. The series focuses on 57 citizen-soldiers from Clarksville. The first three episodes of the series, created by Arkansan documentary filmmakers Craig and Brent Renaud, debuted to high praise on Discovery/Times in 2004. On the strength of viewer and critical response, the channel commissioned another seven episodes of the series.

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