The dinner was catered by Eddie and Alisa Black. County officials, mayors and judges from Sharp, Lawrence and Independence counties were present. Arkansas Representatives Curren Everett, David Cook and Monte Davenport were also in attendance as well as retired Sharp County Sheriff T.J. "Sonny" Powell and former Sharp County Judge Frank Arnold.
These dignitaries, as well as members of the Women's Club and other concerned citizens, met with Halter as he spoke about the upcoming state lottery and its importance to education in Arkansas.
According to information obtained from Halter's Web site he has served as an economic adviser to President Clinton and to the U.S. Senate, led the Social Security Administration, advised Fortune 500 companies and served on the board of directors of information technology and life sciences companies.
Halter is a strong advocate for educational opportunities and said he was pleased to see the state lottery that he championed pass by a two to one vote. Halter wrote Amendment 3 to the Arkansas Constitution, commonly known as HOPE for Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. The lottery, Halter said "Is the only way I could get the legislators on board to raise $100,000,000."
The state lottery will raise an estimated $100,000,000 annually to set Arkansas on the path to compete with other states for better paying jobs. The lottery will help fund scholarships for not only graduating Arkansas seniors but also non-traditional students who would like to go back to college to improve their skills or begin a new career.
During his speech, Halter provided the audience with a break down of percentages and their respective allocations. Halter said that 55-60 percent of the lottery proceeds will go back into the lottery in the form of prize money; 28-35 percent of the money raised from the lottery will be for the scholarship fund with the balance for vendors, advertisement and administrative fees.
Halter said that the lottery should be established and tickets should be available in stores by the end of the year.
In regard to the scholarships, Halter said that by August of 2010 any Arkansas senior who has maintained a 2.5 grade point average or higher while in high school and a minimum score of 19 on the ACT test would receive an automatic scholarship to an Arkansas college, but did not give a dollar amount of the award. He also said he would also like to see this scholarship also cover part-time tuition for non-traditional students.
During Halter's visit, he told the audience that once during an appearance in Hot Springs Village he told the crowd in regard to one of his reasons for wanting to better Arkansas' education system. Halter said, "For all my life and for the life of all the persons in this room, Arkansas has been 48th in education." Halter said he was very certain of his facts and a gentleman in the audience countered him and said that his statement wasn't true. Still being sure of himself, Halter asked the gentleman what he meant and he replied "I am 84-years-old and was alive before Alaska and Hawaii were states and I remember when Arkansas was 47th in education." At this point the realism of the need for a more skilled and educated workforce was brought into an even brighter light for the audience.
Halter said the scholarship fund would triple the number of scholarships in the state and make Arkansans who obtain degrees from these scholarships more competitive in the national job market. Halter said, "That is why the legislature passed it."