The story that broke in Green Forest the other day -- the state has ended the requirement for local option elections for Sunday alcohol sales in Arkansas -- has stirred a fuss there.
To recap: With little notice, new omnibus alcoholic beverage legislation immediately allowed every on-premise alcoholic beverage permittee in the state's 33 wet counties to sell drinks on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to midnight. The law also repealed a rule that Sunday sales were only allowed at restaurants with food.
These changes caught people by surprise, understandably, first in Green Forest, when the owner of the Brew and Cue tavern announced his intentions to start serving brews this weekend.
Not going to happen. The new law also gave cities and counties the right to limit alcohol sales on Sunday to shorter hours, or no hours at all.
The Green Forest City Council Thursday night approved a hurryup ordinance to ban alcohol sales on Sunday. Ginger Shiras, who broke this story for the Harrison paper, reports the play-by-play on the jump. In Little Rock, where taverns have already begun taking advantage of the end of the restaurant rule on Sunday sales, I don't think we need fear a religious backlash sufficient to roll back Sunday opening.
Oh, by the way: A witness says the string of profanities uttered at the City Council during the vote by the unhappy wife of the tavern owner was "stupid ass motherfuckers."
FROM THE HARRISON DAILY TIMES
By Ginger Shiras
GREEN FOREST — The Green Forest City Council quickly and unanimously put a stop Thursday to an attempt to open a beer bar on the public square on Sundays.
Tom Lawrence, who owns the Brew and Cue bar on the Green Forest pubic square, had informed the council Monday that he was going to start serving beer on Sundays.
A little-noticed provision of a new state law automatically allows beer bars to open on Sundays without a city-wide vote, but state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division officials told the town it could regulate Sunday hours down to zero.
That's what the council did Thursday night — they adopted an ordinance setting no Sunday hours for alcohol sales.
Lawrence and several supporters were there Thursday, as were some preachers and their flocks, but they weren't asked to speak.
Alderman Mike Miller said he was voting with the majority of his constituents and Alderman Willa Kerby agreed, saying she had received 16 calls from residents who opposed the Sunday bar hours and five who favored them.
Mayor Richard Deweese said he applauded their stand as representative government.
The council members approved all three required readings of its ordinance, along with an emergency clause to keep Lawrence from opening the Brew and Cue this Sunday, as he had told them Monday that he would.
The town has two beer bars on its public square, and this would affect Billie's Bar as well.
At Monday's council meeting, Lawrence had said he needed the extra income from Sunday sales, and Rev. Marvin Emmons of First Baptist Church said people didn't want bars open on Sunday in Green Forest.
After Thursday's meeting, Rev. Emmons said the majority of some 50 persons attending were opponents of Sunday alcohol sales.
Lawrence called the decision "a bunch of bull***."
His wife, Marvona Ewing, had stormed out during the final vote, loudly denouncing the council members with a string of profanity.