ASH FLAT, AR - An effort to return alcohol sales to Sharp County, which has been dry for more than 60 years, has come up with a novel appeal. Members of a group called Save Energy Reap Taxes says allowing sales of alcoholic beverages in the county would help the environment.
Ruth Reynolds is a member of the organization that's seeking signatures on petitions calling for a wet-dry vote on the November 2008 ballot. She says Cave City residents have to travel 70 miles round-trip to buy alcoholic beverages. According to Reynolds, that's not only a long trip just to get alcohol, but it also results in emission of a lot of greenhouse gases from vehicles making the trip.
The help-the-environment argument is in addition to help the county's economy, by raising local sales tax revenues that now go to nearby Missouri, where alcohol sales are allowed. Plus, the group makes the straightforward and more traditional claim that people who drink beer, wine and liquor should be allowed to buy them locally.
Stu Freigy, an accountant who belongs to the group, said arguments against alcohol sales based on prevention of drinking don't hold up. He said Americans proved with the failed Prohibition experiment in the early 20th century that banning sale of alcoholic beverages didn't stop drinking. Freigy said this is now the 21st century, and wondered if it wasn't time Sharp County moved at least into the 20th century.