RUSSELLVILLE–In the final weeks before the November ballots appear throughout the Natural State, Pope and many other “dry” counties in Arkansas have reported an increased number of billboards advertising the “Keep Local Rights in the Next County” campaign. Spearheaded by liquor lobbyists, the campaign is opposed to the Arkansas Alcohol Amendment, which would reevaluate and dissolve the wet/dry designations for the 75 counties in the state.
Campaign representative Buddy Hopps, 46, who oversees monies donated to the cause, has worked with a variety of liquor retailers to secure their right to monopolize profits from nearby counties. “State counties should be free to choose whether they want to permit the sale of alcohol in the next county over or not, keeping in mind the delicate economic changes that would occur if such a balance was disrupted,” said Hopps to sources this week. He added that, to date, over $1.2 million has been donated by retailers to Keep Local Rights in the Next County to ensure the locals rights of the 38 current wet counties in Arkansas.
Despite reports offered by their opponents, the “Arkansans for the 21st Century” Campaign, which claims that economic benefits would reach the entire state with the dissolution of wet/dry counties, Hopps maintains his stance that only half of the counties should have the ability to sell alcohol. “We’ve got to keep in mind the local businesses that would be crushed by the loss of customers who have to drive 15 to 25 minutes to buy liquor at their service,” he said. “If people could buy beer, wine, and spirits just anywhere, the small towns along the interstate and at the border of dry counties would be crushed. We can’t let that happen.”
Until the ballots are received at the end of this year, residents of dry counties surrounded by other dry counties, like Paragould local Christopher Vale, 24, may have to resort to other means while he is at home on weekends. “I could make the one-and-a-half-hour drive round trip to the nearest liquor store…or I could just smoke meth with my buddy Steve down the street,” Vale mused to sources who visited him at his front porch.