JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) – People in Jacksonville and Sherwood could soon buy alcoholic drinks at restaurants if the city can vote to put up a special election.
Both cities voted to go dry in the 1950's and since then officials have tried to turn the measure around. The boundaries the dry areas fall in are part of the Gray Township. Only voters within the township can vote to turn it around.
Restaurant owners like Mark Needler at Fuzzy’s said it can serve alcohol, but only with a private license. He said the membership is expensive.
“We look forward being able to do it with a regular license like everybody else does and not put our customers through an extra step of having to get a membership and go from there,” Needler said.
He said the private license can sometimes make business complicated, especially when he gets customers from out of state who do not know about the laws.
"I just hope it's easier to get licenses in the Jacksonville and preferably full licenses versus the private club," Needler said.
Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said this is an economic issue for the city.
"Why would you come here and go through all the trouble and hoops when you can go just a few miles down the road," Fletcher asked.
Jacksonville City Director Robert Price agreed, saying it's something citizens have been asking for.
“This is not building more liquor stores or clubs, it’s simply selling alcohol by the drink in restaurants,” Price said. “Our citizens complain about the fact that if they want a glass of wine with their steak and baked potato they have to drive to North Little Rock.”
For now, business owners like Needler are hopeful the law will change.
“Being able to compete with other restaurants in the metroplex area that already allow drink to be served, I think it will be great for us and Jacksonville,” Needler said.
Both Sherwood and Jacksonville's city councils will vote to call the special election on Thursday.