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Wet to dry to damp to whatever's next: A brief history

Posted: May 14, 2014 - 5:29pm

There is an effort to put the dry county/wet county issue before the voters for the first time in two generations.

Faulkner County had several saloons in the 19th century, and flip/flopped between “dry” and “wet” several times in the early 20th century. The county has been “dry” since 1943. The vote then was 1,753 to 488. There were a few attempts to get enough signatures over the next few decades, and eventually it was put to a vote again.

Jimmy Carter was elected President “in close contest,” read the lead headline in the Nov. 3, 1976 edition of the Log Cabin Democrat. Not far below that was the headline “By 3-2 margin — Dry voters outnumber wets.” The count in 1976 was 8,439 to 5,313.

The leader of the 1976 "wet" initiative was, according to the Aug. 26, 1976 edition of the LCD, former cross-country truck driver Grover D. “Dee” Jones, who according to that edition “occasionally was inclined to stop for a beer or a mixed drink” while on the road.

Jones told the LCD then that when he settled in Conway, “it first hit me that Faulkner County’s dry and I don’t have the choice (to drink) or I have the choice of driving a distance to get it. And in looking around the county, it’s rumored not to be so dry.”

Jones was referring to bootlegging, but his argument (aside from commercial drivers stopping for a beer once in a while) could still stand.

Faulkner County’s status as dry “kind of had a back-handed effect of promoting the private club era,” Conway Mayor Tab Townsell said on Wednesday. Townsell said that he “for one welcomes the question going to the ballot.” In a decade, Conway went from private clubs that you could count on one hand to so many that it’s hard to count and locals correct visitors that Conway is “damp” rather than dry.

There was resistance against private clubs, and there will be resistance against the effort to put the dry/wet question to the voters this November.

Jones said in his 1976 interview that he didn’t think the church community would oppose Faulkner County going wet. In the next day’s edition, he found out how wrong he was.

“The Rev. Walter Jolly, Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, visited the Log Cabin Democrat today to take issue with [Jones’] statement in Thursday’s edition that he does not believe churches will oppose the effort,” the Aug. 27, 1976 edition reads.

“Jolly said Bethel Baptist wishes to go on record as opposing the drive, and said he ‘would hope’ area churches would organize to oppose it.”

“'It’s our belief that liquor, as it has throughout the country, will do harm to the community,’ Jolly said. ‘Liquor has many defenders, but no defense — as Abraham Lincoln once said.’”

The Aug. 28, 1976 edition reports that Ray Miller, pastor of the Conway Chapel-Christian Family Center spoke on behalf of the Faulkner County Ministerial Alliance in telling the newspaper that, “For those of us in the ministry that have had to deal with those with broken lives and broken homes where drinking was a factor in those problems, we can certainly attest that no amount of revenue or any other so-called benefit could compensate for the negative influence that would be felt if this county allowed a change on its present position.” 

About three column-inches worth of church leaders that signed on to this statement follows in this edition. 

Townsell said that he would support a “wet” Faulkner County initiative as far as Conway goes because, though he doesn’t drink now, “a substantial percentage of Conway residents do, and it would certainly be more convenient for them to get it here, and more beneficial for that money to stay here in this city and this county.”

Conway has the zoning and design ordinances to prevent the “ugly liquor store next to my house” problems, he said, and that generally he felt Conway was ready to “go from damp to wet.”

County Judge Allen Dodson said that he’s interested to see what the people think about the question, but declined to take a side.

But before the question can be reached, the committee that is organizing the petition drive, Our Community Our Dollars, will have to get almost 25,000 signatures, and according to their press release they won’t be canvassing in Mayflower or Vilonia so as to not disrupt the ongoing tornado relief operations.

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Igor Rabinowitz
8821
Points
Igor Rabinowitz 05/14/14 - 08:24 pm
4
0
Wait, whoa....

What about all those county-line liquor stores which funneled money to the pro-dry groups?

I've seen the numbers just for Star Liquor down in Morgan. It's breathtaking.

Not only that, but it was a sensible investment from their standpoint. No telling what the cash take has been from those businesses since '76, and for that matter, no telling how much tax revenue was lost from our county in that time.

Look at, say, Damascus, having to slug out speeding tickets to make ends meet. A couple liquor stores in there would do that town a world of good.

Not to mention over the years how many kids have been killed drunk driving after going out to an outlying county. Talk about your costs, there's a cost.

conwaygerl
5565
Points
conwaygerl 05/14/14 - 11:01 pm
0
5
Sorta

Agreed on the county line liquor stores interests

But if you think that more access to alcohol reduces drunk driving, why don't you think more guns reduces gun deaths?

Igor Rabinowitz
8821
Points
Igor Rabinowitz 05/15/14 - 08:16 am
3
0
Location

A bar in walking distance is safer than a drive-to

Bad boy
993
Points
Bad boy 05/14/14 - 11:19 pm
5
0
Study.

Come on now. Wasn't there a study that proved that more DWI and alcohol related accident deaths happen in dry counties. I like a drink myself. Do not drive and drink. My point is it is hard to get drunk on the way home from the liquor store if it is less than a mile away.

conwaygerl
5565
Points
conwaygerl 05/15/14 - 06:59 am
1
7
I eat my groceries on the way home

If you can't go 20 minutes without a drink....which is the time it takes to get home from a liquor store currently, then you just might have a problem.

fdsjfsdjfsda543543543
2760
Points
fdsjfsdjfsda543543543 05/15/14 - 11:36 am
0
0
Are you volunteering to do

Are you volunteering to do deliveries? Takes more than 20 minutes to get from Morgan to my house. Especially with the rubbernecker with the CNWYGRL license plate clogging up the interstate around Mayflower.

Bad boy
993
Points
Bad boy 05/15/14 - 06:22 pm
1
0
Really.

I drink a little daily. Some times I don't care to wait 20 minutes. Why should I. I'm free and over twenty one. I have a right to one when I'm ready. I've never had a Dwi or public intox. I could care less wet or dry. See the federal government allows you to make, possess,and share 200 gallons of home made wine a year. No selling or barter. I like wine. Get drunk and never leave home to do it. There are lots of wine makers in this county. The biggest problem is the nose in your business pushy people that want to run someones life. Most of them have failed in running their own.

Bad boy
993
Points
Bad boy 05/18/14 - 09:48 am
0
0
LOL

My buddy is sitting here reading this with me. He lives in Enders. That is in Faulkner county. It is forty miles to any liquor store. 80 r0und trip. He wants to know what you drive. He wants to get 2.

justoffcenter
767
Points
justoffcenter 05/15/14 - 07:31 am
1
2
Money people in town

will never let the county go wet. To much money in private clubs.

I don't drink, but have no problem with a wet county.

ARVoiceofLogic
5332
Points
ARVoiceofLogic 05/15/14 - 09:31 am
1
0
Where do I sign up

It's 2014 and we still have prohibition in our county.

" Ray Miller, ... -... no amount of revenue or any other so-called benefit could compensate for the negative influence that would be felt if this county allowed a change on its present position.”
Didn't they say that in prohibition? Didn't they say that before the private-clubs went in? Didn't they say that about what would happen when teh gai married? I'm still waiting on armageddon.

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