Going Wet Or Dry By Going Green

SHARP COUNTY - Sharp county has been dry since 1946 and numerous efforts to make it wet have since failed.

Now a new group says their reasoning for making the county goes beyond alcohol.

In sixty one years many things change, both in Sharp county and the world. This new group wants Sharp county to become wet for two reasons, the ecological and economic.

Ruth Reynolds, environmentalist, "I would like to say that the people who live in Cave City have to travel 70 miles round trip. But that's a long trip just to get alcohol. And that's a lot of greenhouse gases."

Reynolds group wants Sharp county to go wet. Not to promote alcohol but to help cut down on air pollution.

Reynolds, "it would be very significant to change the wet/dry county law so that people would not have to travel so far and emit greenhouse gas emissions to buy their booze."

Sharp county is surrounded by dry counties so any kind of trip to the line can involve a fairly lengthy drive.

Reynolds, "Every time you burn a gallon of gas you emit 22 pounds of carbon dioxide."

Besides the obvious environmental benefits, driving to another county or state for alcohol takes money out of Sharp county.

Estimated alcohol tax income could bring hundreds of thousands to the county.

Stu Freigy a committe member and CPA says, "Alcohol excise tax is five percent of all alcohol sales. Whether their off premise or on premise on top of the excise tax, were losing sales tax. So the five percent is a hundred thousand, seven percent is a hundred forty thousand, put those together that's two hundred forty."

Sharp county residents I visited with in Missouri say they're tired of the drive and spending their money to support another state."

Barry Elrod lives near Hardy and makes two or three trips a week to the Missouri line, "It's the inconvenience of driving up here and then you got your gas money, and then your time allowed. The money that the states lose in Arkansas, I don't understand that. Why they would allow everybody to drive here and spend their money in the state Missouri and not in Arkansas?"

Evening Shade resident makes the same trip about two or three times a month, "First of all I'm gonna burn gasoline to come up here. And second of all to be honest I hate to see my tax dollars going somewhere other than the state I live in."

At this point objections are running low key, mainly claiming the movement is promoting the drinking of alcohol.

Freigy, "We proved you're not going to prevent drinking with prohibition, that was done in the 20th century, this is now the 21st century. Don't you think it's time Sharp county moved at least into the 20th century."

Right now the group is collecting signatures to get the wet/dry issue on the November ballot. They have about sixteen hundred verified out of about 5000 needed signatures.