ASH FLAT, AR (KAIT) – Despite two failed attempts, a Sharp County group has once again collected petitions so that voters can decide whether to allow alcohol sales locally.
The group "Save Energy, Reap Taxes" filed almost 5,000 petitions Friday at the Sharp County Courthouse, and members say that's well above the number they need to make the ballot in November.
"I have to say my stomach is churning," Ruth Reynolds said, "if that indicates anything."
Reynolds leads the group that, for the past six years, has sought to shore up support for the wet/dry issue. She would personally like Sharp County to be able to sell or manufacture alcohol so that people can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that they emit every time they drive out of town.
Reynolds dedicated the past two years to this goal, vowing that it was her last chance. She drove to almost every corner of Sharp County, knocking on just about every door to garner signatures. She even set an ambitious goal of getting 5,000 petitions signed.
The number of petitions filed Friday fell just short of that goal at 4,989. That equals about 46 percent of the registered voters in Sharp County, exceeding the state's requirement to get a local option initiative on the ballot to legalize alcohol.
The Sharp County Clerk's office now has 10 days to validate the signatures, but Reynolds says she would hit the road again if any came back voided.
"If it gets on the ballot, I know I'm going to be really motivated to get out on the highway with my signs – vote wet – often," she said. "I got to push for it real hard."
Reynolds' supporters joined her at the courthouse, many saying they would like to see the issue finally decided by the voters.
"All we want to do is get it on the ballot," said Mariann Bader of Cave City, "so people like you and me are able to vote on the issue."
Others like Stu Freigy, the group's treasurer, say this is just the first swing at a fight that is far from over.
"I feel we will probably get a court challenge, but I think we've dotted all our I's and crossed all our T's," Freigy said. "I feel somewhat confident that it will make (the ballot) this time."
While the group awaits validation from the county clerk, Freigy says members will soon begin collecting donations to cover any potential legal fees.
To donate to the cause, either call Freigy at 870-966-4940 or visit saveenergyreaptaxes.com.