Friday, October 20, 2017

TOP STORY >> Drinks-by-glass vote on Nov. 14

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville volunteers on the Committee for Progress Now are working hard in their campaign to inform residents and encourage them to vote on Nov. 14 to allow restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks by the glass, which, they said, is a catalyst for economic growth.

Community leaders in Jacksonville and Sherwood want the law changed in the defunct Gray Township to allow restaurants to serve wine, beer and spirits with meals.

Gray Township covers 90 percent of Jacksonville and 50 percent of Sherwood.

Downtown planning and development director Dr. Robert Price, who is leading the Jacksonville effort, said with three weeks left before the election, the Committee for Progress Now in Jacksonville is trying to raise $6,500 to meet its goal of $23,500.

Price has said it’s the No. 1 objective in a 13-step plan to spur economic growth and revitalize downtown Jacksonville.

A “Toast of the Town” fundraiser was held Thursday at the Southern Oaks Country Club to collect donations for advertising, signs and mailers.

Mayor Gary Fletcher and state Rep. Bob Johnson (D- Jacksonville) were in attendance.

“Everybody is positive about it. We don’t know of any group opposed as far as we know,” Price said.

“It is not about liquor stores and bars, it’s about restaurants. A North Little Rock family plans to open an independently owned restaurant at the closed Cody’s Cafe on Municipal Drive. They inquired about serving alcohol,” Price said.

Buffalo Wild Wings and other restaurants went elsewhere to avoid the hassle of getting a private license in Jacksonville, he said.

“Drinks by the Glass” will lead to more businesses coming to Jacksonville, leading to more jobs and increasing property values, he said.

“They have to get out and vote,” Price said.

He said the law against serving alcohol passed in 1953 when Little Rock Air Force Base was being built. Community leaders did not wants bars and liquor stores drawing in the airmen as in other communities.

Even though Sherwood and Jacksonville are voting on the same issue on the same day, they are separate elections, meaning one city could become wet, and not the other.