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Two More Cen. Ark. Cities Eye Lifting Alcohol Bans

On the heels of a successful vote to legalize alcohol sales in North Little Rock's Park Hill neighborhood, two more Central Arkansas cities are ramping up efforts of their own.
SHERWOOD, AR -- On the heels of a successful vote to legalize alcohol sales in North Little Rock's Park Hill neighborhood, two more Central Arkansas cities are ramping up efforts of their own.

In both Sherwood and Jacksonville, supporters of lifting alcohol bans in those cities have been buoyed by last year's resounding vote to go wet in Park Hill.
  
They hope their own successful campaigns will be a shot in the arm to the economy in certain parts of the city.

Clip board in hand, volunteers hit the streets in Sherwood Saturday looking to gather signatures.

In the city, Maryland Avenue is a dividing line.  A vote in 1956 made areas north of the road dry.  Convenience stores have plenty of soda but no beer.

South of Maryland Ave., a sign outside a Mexican restaurant advertising beer specials lets you know the rules are different.

"When developers or companies are looking for locations and they determine it's a dry area they go somewhere else," said Steve Cobb, the city attorney and former head of the local chamber of commerce.  He's working on a campaign to put the wet-dry question to voters.

"That would be kind of a trigger for a grocery store to come out there and a nice restaurant, several nice restaurants," he said.  "That's what our hope is."

Supporters of going wet in Sherwood, encouraged by the successful campaign in Park Hill, are stepping up efforts.  So far, they've collected 10 percent of the roughly 4,600 signatures needed to get the issue on a ballot.
  
One of them, Harold Tanner, added his name Saturday.

"I don't think we should separate one area, one town or community from others," he said.

Supporters shrug off the notion that allowing booze would bring trouble to the neighborhood.

"The studies that we've looked at don't indicate that anything of that nature," Cobb said.

Cobb says it's an issue of money not morals.

"It's tax dollars that right now our leaving the city that we'd like to see stay here," he said.

Supporters in Sherwood are hoping for a vote on the wet-dry issue in the spring.
  
Folks in Jacksonville are working a similar effort hoping to put the question to voters there during the May primary.
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