Wet/dry option to get vote; Issue narrowly slips into November ballot

An effort by Our Community, Our Dollars to get a wet/dry issue on the Nov. 4 general election ballot has succeeded.

The required number of signatures on a petition to allow the sale and manufacture of alcoholic beverages in Saline County has been met, according to County Clerk Doug Curtis.

Curtis reported late Thursday afternoon that 31,528 signatures were processed and 25,653 were accepted after 5,875 were rejected.

He said 25,580 signatures of registered voters were required to place the measure on the general election ballot.

No additional steps are necessary for this to occur, Curtis said.

Jay Allen, president of Our Community, Our Dollars, commented on the situation shortly after learning that the signature requirement had been met.

"We just received word from the County Clerk’s office in Saline County that we have turned in a significant amount of signatures — enough to put the wet/dry issue on the ballot in that county," Allen said.

"Assuming the issue ultimately makes the ballot, we will now focus our attention on encouraging Saline County residents to get out and vote in support of turning Saline from dry to wet," he said.

Allen contends there are "significant economic benefits to this change" and said his organization looks forward to continuing to educate residents about the issue.

Similar campaigns in Craighead and Faulkner counties have been suspended, he said.

"Effective today, the Our Community, Our Dollars ballot question committee will no longer pursue our initiatives in Craighead and Faulkner counties to provide voters there an opportunity to vote on whether the counties should be wet or dry," Allen noted.

"Given the strong support we have received from voters in both of these counties during the last several months of gathering signatures, we greatly regret that they will not have the opportunity to decide this issue through the democratic process," he said. "It has been decades since voters in these counties have had such an opportunity.

"However, given where we stand today on the requirement that 38 percent of voters in each county must sign a petition to place this matter on the ballot, we have decided to discontinue our efforts in Faulkner and Craighead."

Members of Our Community, Our Dollars operate key businesses and employ more than 2,500 people in these two counties, he noted.

"Ultimately, these companies desire for all the communities they serve to grow and prosper, and to offer an outstanding quality of life for their individual citizens. They will continue their missions of being strong corporate partners in the many communities they serve."