Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

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

Friday, February 17, 2012

Will Benton County Finally Become “Wet?”

A new effort is underway to give voters an opportunity to decide the question of whether to make Benton County "wet."

The petition will require signatures equal to 38% of the voters in the most recent general election. In Benton County that means nearly 40,000 valid signatures. That is a huge number and is the biggest reason why voters have not had the opportunity to vote on the question since 1944.

The difference this time around is money, organization, experience and the support of some members of the Walton family. An experienced professional firm has been hired to gather the signatures, which must be turned in to the county clerk’s office by August 28.

I’m all for it and while I respect differing opinions, I think the overwhelming majority of residents will agree the time has come.

The backers, with good reason, are calling their initiative “Keep Dollars in Benton County.” The economic benefits of going “wet” are far reaching. In addition to the direct sales tax revenue to the county and the resulting trickle-down effect, it would place the county more favorably in the minds of prospective businesses and visitors alike.

Locals know how to overcome the lack of packaged liquor stores in Benton County. They drive a few miles to Washington County or McDonald County, Missouri. Those counties are more than happy to have thriving businesses within their borders that send sales tax receipts to their local county governments. I’d be willing to bet businesses in these counties will be in direct opposition to Benton County going “wet.”

Arkansas liquor laws are arcane, outdated, even ludicrous in many respects. Some restaurants become "private clubs". Those who purchase a permit and serve food can serve alcoholic drinks to their members – and any adult can become a member by simply signing their name in a register. But restaurants per se cannot serve alcoholic beverages.

Just think of the huge number of people who will come specifically to visit the beautiful Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. My guess is most will find it amazing and disappointing that they cannot have wine or a cocktail with dinner.

If I lived in Benton County, my vote would be a definite yes.

For more details on this, click here.