I propose to change the current status of Craighead County, Arkansas from a dry county to a wet county. Although there are strong arguments that the benefits of being a dry county are greater than the drawbacks, it is important to 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 serve alcoholic beverages. The second is the safety of those who consume alcohol.
First, we must consider the annual amount of money that leaves the pockets of Craighead County citizens and goes into the neighboring counties. As most know you are unable to purchase alcohol under the current laws. Yet, people do not refrain from the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Logically we can conclude that people purchase the alcohol elsewhere. Money that could recycle 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 $4.2 billion annually to purchase 430 million gallons of alcoholic beverages. These businesses could be run here, in Jonesboro, instead of places like Harrisburg and Truman. The fact is that people are going to drink. Why not sell to Craighead citizens in Craighead? It makes far greater sense to put back where you take out. Meaning if you earn a living in Craighead one should purchase from those there as well. If the citizens could legally buy alcohol her they would not be helping out their neighbors. Not only by bringing in those stores that specialize in alcohol, but those businesses who serve it as well, Craighead could increase it's income for small business men and for the county. Tax money from liquor sales goes 20% to counties on basis of unincorporated population, and 80% to cities on basis of incorporated population. In turn that would increase employment by creating jobs. Certain restaurant chains refuse to expand into the area partially because they can not serve alcoholic beverages to those of legal age. Business creates jobs, that is a fact, but if business will not build in the area naturally there will be less work. By making Craighead County a "wet" county not only would it increase the per capita income of those there but increase the job availability as well.
More important than the economic aspects of turning Craighead into a wet county is the safety of the citizens. Drinking and driving is a deadly act. If Craighead county was a wet county it would decrease driving time to purchase it and decrease the chances of deaths due to drinking and driving. It is that simple. Jonesboro houses a vast number of college students. Despite the fact that approximately half are under age they do drink; Not only those that are under age but those that have had their 21st birthday. No amount of lecturing and preaching is going to change the fact that college students drink and often in access. A matter of fact in a survey done in 1990, 80% of all college students drink alcohol on a fairly regular basis. Of the 80%, 2/3rds of them had been intoxicated within the last two weeks prior to the survey. We can not only look at the students of Arkansas State University, we must also take into consideration adults as well.
Accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. By having to drive the added distance, outside county lines, we add miles to the possibility of an accident. Not only are there added miles, but because they are going to purchase alcohol, the chances for an accident are greater. I do not wish to condone the actions of those who chose to break the law in that way, but it is not only their lives at risk. When there is a drunk driver on the road they create 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 to cover to obtain alcohol and less of a chance to drink it before they reach their destination. 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 contributing factors could be eliminated, even decreased, the lives of the innocent as well as 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 supposed to have it. By making Craighead a wet county we take that desire away.
In conclusion, there are a great many circumstances that should be examined before any decision is made. By making it a wet county, business will develop and other means of employment will occur. The biggest benefit is indisputably that which involves human life. If people do not have to drive to get the alcohol the chances of a related accident significantly go down. Human life 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 a great excess. But there are benefits to making Craighead County a wet county that can not be ignored. Therefore I propose that there be a change in that particular aspect of the county.