If Clark County is voted wet, both sides should work together and get it done right. I encourage you to give this thought, research on your own and make your own decision. Just vote.

To the Editor:

In an article this week, Dr. Downs [contributor of the Open Forum column, printed Mondays in the Daily Siftings Herald] stated he was astounded to learn that only two counties had voted to go wet in Arkansas in the last 30 years. That shouldn’t be so surprising, considering that when one of those, Baxter County, voted wet in 1978, it only took 15 percent of the registered voters to get on the ballot. Now it takes 38 percent by state law.

While Downs is undoubtedly one of the most admired and respected journalists anywhere, we believe these pertinent facts were inadvertently omitted. Just look at the growth and development that Mountain Home has experienced. It is too early to tell any change with Marion County that was just voted wet in 2006.

In 1978, Mountain Home’s population was 3,500. Now it is over 14,000. In 1980, Arkadelphia’s population was 10,000. It still is. What’s amazing is that Clark County surpassed the 38 percent petition requirement, but what is more disturbing is that many citizens would have signed the petition except they were afraid someone would see their name and pass judgment upon them, or that their job or business would be negatively affected. What kind of reflection of democracy and right to free speech is that?

In what we would hope is a progressive county, does that mindset encourage voting-age young people to get involved and to openly express their own ideas? In that same column, statistics were shown comparing the alcohol consumption of students in grades 6-12 in Clark County and the State averages. The fact that this is happening at all is unsettling to all of us, and there was evidence that in some cases Clark County’s was higher for youngsters. Apparently staying dry has not been the solution.

It could be assumed that Hot Springs’ businesses would love for Clark County to remain dry. On the ABC map, it is easy to see that Garland County is a wet island. How would residents and business owners of Garland, Pulaski, Washington and Baxter counties like it if Larry Page took his crusade to repeal their existing wet status? It would probably be much more effective in eliminating drinking than just keeping Clark County dry.

Across our state and county it is apparent that many of the areas of highest growth are 1) within wet counties, 2) they have numerous private licenses — 47 in Bentonville, 22 in Jonesboro, two in Conway, eight in Russellville — and/or 3) they are all within 15 miles of a wet county line. Incidentally, Page’s group takes credit for having halted a legislative change a couple of years ago that would have eased the procedure to just serve alcohol with a restaurant meal. How is that a viable alternative?

I believe Clark County can remain deeply religious and the quality of life can be high, even if it is voted wet. It is a “great place to call home,” which shouldn’t mean it stands still.
If Clark County is voted wet, both sides should work together and get it done right. I encourage you to give this thought, research on your own and make your own decision. Just vote.

Judy Hanna

Arkadelphia