ABC overturns director’s denial of Old Country Store’s liquor permit

Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:55 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - After the director denied the Old Country Store’s request for a retail liquor license replacement permit, the Alcoholic Beverage Control gave the store the okay to sell more than just beer and wine.

The ABC overturned the director’s Sept. 17 denial decision during their meeting Wednesday.

During the meeting, representatives for both Don Nicholas and the opposition to the reversal put their case to the board.

Hayden Shurgar represented Nicholas during the meeting and said the opposition put forward the same baseless argument on public safety that they have in the past.

“You’ve been presented with the same baseless arguments of a public safety interest for denying this permit but we’ve had two witnesses here today that were quite capable of testifying if that was truly an issue,” Shurgar said.

Those two people, who were on the call for the opposition were Craighead County Judge Marvin Day and Greene County Chief Deputy Shannon Anthony, who was on the call on Sheriff Steve Franks' behalf.

Chief Deputy Anthony said the department’s biggest concern is the location of the store and its distance from Paragould.

Judge Day argued that the taxpayers of Craighead County could foot the bill when it comes to providing timely public safety assistance to the store.

“Basically for me, it’s just the fact there is really not an ability for Greene County to adequately serve the safety interest of that facility, and he is relying on the taxpayers of Craighead County to provide that service in a timely manner,” Day said.

In the end, the board voted to reverse the director’s decision to deny the permit, but Nicholas will have to remove the food services from the store and maintain the minimum required alcohol inventory to keep the license.

Scott Hardin with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said the reason for Director Doralee Chandler’s initial denial was due to opposition expressed by local leaders.

He said when there is opposition like that, the application is usually initially denied.

He also said an ABC agent must inspect the store to make sure the requirements set out by the board are being met.

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