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Churches stand firm against alcohol

Thursday, November 20, 2008

While one of the suits filed against the petition signatures in the fight to keep Sharp County dry was watered with alcohol money, the other was not.

Soon after Save Energy Reap Taxes (SERT) turned in the petitions full of signatures to the Sharp County Clerk, two Sharp County residents stepped in and said, not so fast. Morris Street and Yota Shaw filed separate suits against the petitions.

After the suits were filed, Judge Harold Erwin filed a temporary injunction delaying the question from being printed on the November ballots. Judge Phillip Smith heard the case and ruled the issue be taken off the ballots after a three day trial.

SERT then filed an appeal to Judge Smith's decision but that too was overturned and the ruling remained the same. Throughout the trial, people voiced their opinion stating the cases brought against the petitions were being paid for by Missouri liquor companies.

After the elections were over, SERT received a copy of Shaw's report filed to the Arkansas Ethics Commission (AEC) proving all of her donations, a total of $13,000, came from Missouri alcohol distributors. But, Street's did not.

Street's report to the AEC revealed that there were people in Sharp County who opposed the question being on the ballot. Several local churches donated to the cause of fighting the petitions in court, the committee called themselves the Committee to Keep Sharp County Dry.

The final financial report, which is due 30 days after the election, was filed with the Arkansas Ethics Commission by Street. In the report for the month of October, (reports have been filed since February) Street obtained $9,901 from four different churches in Sharp County. The Committee to Keep Sharp County Dry which Street was a member of received $14,479 cumulatively throughout the effort.

According to the report, total expenditures for the month of October by the committee were $9,000 with an accumulative total of $13,116.

Street said he thinks Shaw believed in what she was fighting for as well, and just used the alcohol distributors to help her with that fight.

Both sides are gearing up for the 2010 election year. SERT members say they will not make the same mistakes twice and they believe the question will make it to the ballots in 2010. Street said they came this far, they are not going to back down now.

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I think it is very foolish of people to keep Sharp County dry. The people who want to drink will drink regardless of what you do here in the county. We are losing much income from liquor. and beer and wine sales. Those who believe that drinking is a sin are to be respected, however, they should respect those of us who want a cocktail before dinner as well. I don't approve of bars on every corner, but I do think we should have packaged liquor sales. This privlege will keep revenues in the state and will save gas for those of us who go to MO for our drinks.

-- Posted by Helen Shinavar on Mon, Nov 24, 2008, at 11:14 AM

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