Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It’s Difficult to Define “Dry” in Benton County

I was surprised to learn recently that yet another initiative is underway to change Benton County from dry to wet – wet meaning legal to sell alcohol in restaurants, taverns, and liquor stores.

Benton County has been dry for as long as I can remember. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sit down at a restaurant or hotel and order a cocktail. Far from it!

Private clubs can serve alcoholic beverages to their members and there are currently more than 100 “clubs” in Benton County doing just that.

It’s easy to become a private club. All that’s required is a small group of people getting together and declaring a common purpose for the club, such as researching where rainbows actually end. After a small amount of paperwork, it is then legal to serve alcohol to the club’s members.

When a customer enters the club (i.e. restaurant or hotel), he is asked to sign up for membership or sign in if he has previously joined. It’s that easy!

What is difficult is to change a county in Arkansas from dry to wet. The law requires 38% of all registered voters in the county to sign a petition before the question can be placed on the ballot. Each and every signature must be verified, which means several thousand additional signatures must be obtained to offset the inevitable invalid signatures. An initiative in 2006 failed to gather enough signatures in the time allotted.

Just imagine the Herculean effort it would take to obtain the signatures of 38% of voters (some 31,000 people), when many elections have less people than that show up to vote.

I wish the founders of the current petition initiative well. I think it’s ludicrous to allow drinking in so many “clubs” while anyone wanting to have a drink in his own home has to drive to a liquor outlet in another county (Washington) or even a neighboring state like just over the line in Missouri. It’s no accident that there are a whole bunch of liquor stores just across the state line north of Benton County doing a thriving business.

Why would Benton County want all the additional traffic on their already over-crowded roads as people cross over county or state lines to buy alcohol?

Why would Benton County want to continue losing sales tax revenue that those package sales produce?

Makes no sense to me. (Plus it’s totally hypocritical).

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