Alcohol on the Agenda

JANUARY 2, 2007 -- POSTED AT 9:30 P.M. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- The budget, an open position, and alcohol were three important topics in front of the Jonesboro City Council in its first meeting of the New Year.

As the number of Jonesboro businesses serving alcohol continues to grow, so does the late night work load for the Jonesboro Police Department. In September, Police Chief Michael Yates mailed a warning notice to Club Red, Club Envision and The Eagles, advising them to tighten the management at their clubs. That's also when Chief Yates noticed that the City of Jonesboro was one of the only cities in Arkansas that serves alcohol without city regulations.

"As we were having some issues a while back, I started looking for that and found out that it didn't exist. So, I felt like we needed to adopt some of those rules and I began working to get that ordinance in place," says Chief Yates of the Jonesboro Police Department.

Yates says that most of the regulations in the proposed ordinance are provided by the state Alcohol Beverage Control Board, but there are a few extras.

"If the ordinance is adopted as is, the hours of sale will be limited to 2 A.M.," says Chief Yates.

Along with the hours of sale, the location of private clubs within the city will also be regulated. Furthermore, Chief Yates says they would stiffen the penalties for those in violation of the proposed new rules.

"It gives us some tools to work with when we have issues. Previously we were at the mercy of trying to institute the state regulations. It shouldn't affect legitimate business operations much, but like I said, if somebody doesn't play by the rules, it's going to be very difficult," adds Yates.

The new set of rules was presented to the council Tuesday night as a proposed resolution. The regulations will be placed on display at city hall for the next few weeks, and the council will vote for adoption of the ordinance at their next meeting on January 16th.

Another big item on the agenda was the official council vacancy declaration and the 2007 city budget. The budget passed unanimously and now the procedure is in place to fill the council vacancy.

Alderman Jimmy Ashley announced his resignation in December, but his seat wasn't officially vacant until December 31st. Now that the vacancy is official, the process for filling that position is ready to go.

The council voted to adopt the procedures which include several requirements. All applicants must reside in Ward 6 where the vacancy is open, write a one page essay of the reasons for wanting to serve on the council, and must provide 30 signatures on an official election petition. After the council holds a public hearing with 5 final candidates, the council will take a majority vote to fill the position.