Residents in Randolph County want to end county's 'dry' status

RANDOLPH COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A group of Randolph County citizens are working to collect enough petition signatures to get the issue of alcohol sales placed on the November 2014 ballot.

"I think it's a touchy subject around here, but I think we should definitely have the right to be able to vote and decide as a community," said Bennie West, who has lived in Pocahontas for five years. "They go to either down the road or 20 miles either way (to buy alcohol) and it's not something that keeps them from buying it."

The 10-member committee "Keep Revenue in Randolph" is leading the petition drive. "We're going to need about 3,800 signatures, but we're going to shoot for 4,000. We have to get 38 percent of the registered voters," said committee member Linda Bowlin.

Bowlin says supporters are excited about the possibility of more jobs, and improving the tax base and safety in Randolph County.

"We have a lot of people that are out on the highways driving to liquor stores that are out of the county and out of the state and some of them drink on the way back home," said committee member Mitchell Clay.

If the committee collects the required amount of signatures and voters pass the measure, it would repeal the county ban on manufacturing, storing and selling alcoholic beverages of "every kind and type, including but not limited to beer, vinous, spirituous and malt liquor."

"It's not about bars. It's not about honky tonks," said Bowlin. "This is the very basic wet county provision that allows for the sale of beer and wine at restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores who choose to participate. In addition to that, we will be allotted liquor stores based on our population, and right now Randolph County qualifies for three and possibly four liquor stores from the Arkansas Beverage Control in Little Rock."

Bowlin says "Keep Revenue in Randolph" will have petition booths set up at all the major events in Randolph County, beginning with the Rock 'n Roll Highway 67 Music Festival on Saturday, October 12.

For more information about the petition drive call Linda Bowlin at (870) 378-6248 or Mitchell Clay at (870) 277-4656.

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