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Sun, July 21

Friday Catchall: Anonymous lotto winners, fighting over water

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The Friday Catchall:

• NAMELESS — Playing the lottery — with the chance to win millions of dollars — could be life changing.

Be careful what you wish for.

Evidence of what I am referring to was experienced by Jack Whittaker, who won the largest jackpot ever (at the time) awarded to a single Powerball ticket. He won $314.9 million in 2002. He saw people come out of the woodwork, going after him with threats and frivolous lawsuits. His daughter was also abducted — and killed — for ransom.

Today, all of the money is gone.

While Whittaker is from West Virginia, I understand why people who win in Arizona want to remain nameless. A bill out of the state House is considering that change, going further than the current 90 days of anonymity, giving them time to set up trusts or other protections.

The dream of riches pales compared to the possibility of problems.

As for people (attorneys testifying before a House committee) saying if winners are threatened they can go to court to seek legal protections, then I won’t play the lottery.

That’s like authorities saying a restraining order is only enforceable if something happens. I say that would be too late.

Side note, one lucky Prescott Fantasy 5 player reportedly is holding the winning $122,000 Fantasy 5 jackpot ticket from the Feb. 15 drawing. According to Arizona State Lottery officials, the winning ticket was sold at Fry’s Food Store, 3198 Willow Creek Road, Prescott. The winning numbers were 4-11-21-27-40.

• RADIATION? — Grand Canyon National Park officials are investigating whether anyone was exposed to radiation at unsafe levels while samples of uranium ore sat in plastic buckets in a park research building.

Three 5-gallon buckets have been removed from a building about a half mile from the South Rim that houses the park’s archives and artifacts. About 550 people tour the collections each year, the AP and Arizona Republic reported this week.

The National Park Service is working with Arizona health and workplace safety officials on the investigation. The agency also plans to set up a hotline for anyone concerned about potential radiation exposure.

I am not so concerned.

Uranium is naturally occurring in northern Arizona and was mined for decades, including at the Orphan Mine on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon that ceased operations in 1969. Plus, the area where the plastic buckets were stored was not a part of the building tour known as the Museum Collection, though people did walk past the area.

My surprise is why the ore would be sitting there in the first place. Plus, “plastic buckets” implies this was not an old bucket sitting there for eons. We’ll let you know what officials say.

• SOCCER KUDOS — Congratulations to the Prescott High School boys for their valiant effort in the state soccer finals Tuesday night. Your ability, dedication and skills were not diminished by a second-place finish.

You have trod where the school has never gone before in soccer. Be proud!

• WATER IS FOR FIGHTING — Years ago the Courier published a book for its 125th anniversary, and in it was a section on water. It is one topic that has been ever-present over the decades.

Recent headlines out of Phoenix have chronicled the votes and progress on a drought contingency plan, which will lay out the entities or state that gets water and how much if the drought affecting the Colorado River and Lake Mead continues.

The latest has the Gila River tribe parrying for position due to the plan as well as legislation (now withdrawn) that would affect its water rights.

It reminds me of mail I received over the years stating my rights in the Gila River adjudication, a long-term lawsuit over the obvious.

It goes to show “whiskey is for drinking and water (continues) to be for fighting” — and will be for years yet to come.

• PICK OF THE WEEK(Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): Weather permitting ... “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr.,” a play at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center, 117 E. Gurley St., opens Thursday, Feb. 28, and continues next weekend. Visit or call 928-777-1370. Sounds cute!

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for The Daily Courier and Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or


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