Arkansas County Sells Alcohol After 70-Year Ban

POCAHONTAS, Ark. (AP) — Alcohol sales are now legal in a northeastern Arkansas county after residents approved a measure to lift a 70-year-old ban on sales.

Randolph County, which banned the sale of alcohol in the early 1940s, began selling alcohol this week after voters in November approved a measure allowing the sales, The Jonesboro Sun reported. Previous attempts to resume sales failed in 2014 and 2016.

The first business to receive a permit was Jordan's Kwik Shop near the Pocahontas Municipal Airport, and business has been busy, said shop manager Tiffany Bishop.

"Everybody is excited," Bishop said. "Everyone was saying they thought they'd never see it happen."

Randolph County was among many counties during the World War II era that passed measures banning alcohol sales. Some historians say such rules likely passed because men were fighting in the war and didn't vote.

Two other Pocahontas businesses, a Japanese restaurant and a Walmart, have also applied for permits. The Arkansas Alcohol Beverage Control Division will vote on the permits in March, spokesman Scott Hardin said.

"Based on the number of calls we've received recently, we're anticipating more applicants from Pocahontas and Randolph County," he said.

A group that pushed for legalizing alcohol sales, Let Randolph County Vote, was led by Linda Bowlin, a Pocahontas attorney. She said she was happy to see the group's work "come to fruition."

"It was a big day that went down in (the county's) history," Bowlin said. "There were distributor trucks pulling into Randolph County to deliver beer, not just driving through."

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