I propose to change the current status of Craighead County, Arkansasfrom a dry county to a wet county. Although there are strong arguments that thebenefits of being a dry county are greater than the drawbacks, it is importantto reassess those ideas. There are two very important drawbacks to a dry county. One is the loss of businesses and revenues from businesses that sell or servealcoholic beverages. The second is the safety of those who consume alcohol.
First, we must consider the annual amount of money that leaves thepockets of Craighead County citizens and goes into the neighboring counties. Asmost know you are unable to purchase alcohol under the current laws. Yet,people do not refrain from the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Logically wecan conclude that people purchase the alcohol elsewhere. Money that couldrecycle itself into the economy of Craighead County contributes to others.
There are numerous small businesses along the county line that sell only alcohol. Craighead is a college county. College students spend approximately $4.2billion annually to purchase 430 million gallons of alcoholic beverages.Thesebusinesses could be run here, in Jonesboro, instead of places like Harrisburgand Truman.
The fact is that people are going to drink. Why not sell toCraighead citizens in Craighead? It makes far greater sense to put back whereyou take out. Meaning if you earn a living in Craighead one should purchasefrom those there as well. If the citizens could legally buy alcohol her theywould not be helping out their neighbors. Not only by bringing in those storesthat specialize in alcohol, but those businesses who serve it as well, Craigheadcould increase it’s income for small business men and for the county.
Tax moneyfrom liquor sales goes 20% to counties on basis of unincorporated population,and 80% to cities on basis of incorporated population.In turn that wouldincrease employment by creating jobs. Certain restaurant chains refuse toexpand into the area partially because they can not serve alcoholic beverages tothose of legal age. Business creates jobs, that is a fact, but if business willnot build in the area naturally there will be less work. By making CraigheadCounty a “wet” county not only would it increase the per capita income of thosethere but increase the job availability as well.
More important than the economic aspects of turning Craighead into a wetcounty is the safety of the citizens. Drinking and driving is a deadly act. IfCraighead county was a wet county it would decrease driving time to purchase itand decrease the chances of deaths due to drinking and driving. It is thatsimple. Jonesboro houses a vast number of college students. Despite the factthat approximately half are under age they do drink; Not only those that areunder age but those that have had their 21st birthday.
No amount of lecturingand preaching is going to change the fact that college students drink and oftenin access. A matter of fact in a survey done in 1990, 80% of all collegestudents drink alcohol on a fairly regular basis. Of the 80%, 2/3rds of themhad been intoxicated within the last two weeks prior to the survey.We can notonly look at the students of Arkansas State University, we must also take intoconsideration adults as well.
Accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. By having to drive theadded distance, outside county lines, we add miles to the possibility of anaccident. Not only are there added miles, but because they are going topurchase alcohol, the chances for an accident are greater. I do not wish tocondone the actions of those who chose to break the law in that way, but it isnot only their lives at risk. When there is a drunk driver on the road theycreate a very deadly weapon.
Those innocent passers by are also at risk. If Craighead was a wet county the people who decide to drink have less distance tocover to obtain alcohol and less of a chance to drink it before they reach theirdestination. It does not make right the actions of those under age. However,we must consider the value of human life. If even some of the contributingfactors could be eliminated, even decreased, the lives of the innocent as wellas the guilty might be saved in the event that someone drinks and drives.
With the added availability of alcohol the novelty of drinking goes down. For some, the attraction to alcohol is the sole fact that they are not supposedto have it. By making Craighead a wet county we take that desire away.
In conclusion, there are a great many circumstances that should beexamined before any decision is made. By making it a wet county, business willdevelop and other means of employment will occur. The biggest benefit isindisputably that which involves human life. If people do not have to drive toget the alcohol the chances of a related accident significantly go down. Humanlife is invaluable, it is fragile and therefore needs all the help it can get.
I in no way condone the illegal consumption of alcohol or its consumption to agreat excess. But there are benefits to making Craighead County a wet countythat can not be ignored. Therefore I propose that there be a change in thatparticular aspect of the county.