Region 8 Group Fights to Keep Alcohol Out of Craighead County

July 20, 2006 - Posted at 5:12 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- On Wednesday, O'Charley's restaurant got the go ahead to begin serving alcohol and there were fireworks at the ABC hearing in Little Rock.  The ABC board chairman said he was offended by a letter written by an opponent to alcohol sales in Craighead County.

The fight is still on to keep alcohol out and one group advocate says they're looking at options that include the possibility of taking this issue to federal court.

"It's a defeat," agrees Friendly Hope Baptist Church Pastor Steve Jacobson, a staunch opponent to alcohol sales in Craighead County, "But it was not unexpected, once they began granting these permits to can you stop?"

Jacobson also serves as President of Citizens Against Alcohol in Craighead County.  He was absent from the hearing Wednesday, but sent a letter with a strong message to the board.

"My purpose is to be blunt and to the point," said Jacobson.

The letter read, "We see you as an out of control, unaccountable, unelected body that, instead of serving as an Alcohol Beverage Control board, serves instead as a county alteration board."

But it was his comments about Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee that some board members found offensive.

"Alcohol and liquor ought to be issues that he has definite convictions on. When Act 1813 passed the legislature, he allowed it to become law without his signature," said Jacobson.

In the letter, Jacobson says that was an act of political gamesmanship that bordered on cowardice.

"I like the governor.  I think he is a nice man, but I think he has failed us miserably on the issue of alcohol in dry counties," said Jacobson.

But Jacobson said the fight against alcohol in Craighead County is still on.  Jacobson says they are looking at options to go above the ABC board--which may include getting injunctions to stop the issuance of alcohol permits by the ABC board until the federal courts decide whether or not it's constitutional.