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People in parts of 2 central Arkansas cities to vote on old alcohol ban

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Photographs by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A map showing the location of Gray Township

The cities of Jacksonville and Sherwood -- which want to expand economic development opportunities-- have jointly campaigned to overturn an alcohol ban from about 60 years ago during a special election scheduled for today.

Eligible people will be asked to vote for or against the sale of alcoholic beverages and on-premises consumption within the defunct Gray Township voting district that overlaps Sherwood and Jacksonville.

Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. today.

There are an estimated 23,920 eligible voters in the former Gray Township election area that includes most of Jacksonville, the portion of Sherwood north of Maryland Avenue and a smaller part of unincorporated Pulaski County.

Each city's election is independent of the other, meaning the issue could pass in one and fail in the other, or both could pass or fail.

Having the alcohol ban has restricted the two cities, Jacksonville especially, from attracting new restaurants, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher has said. In Sherwood, alcohol sales are allowed in the part of the city south of Maryland Avenue.

Fletcher said recently that the prohibition on by-the-drink sales "really limits our ability when it comes to economic development, especially in attracting national chain restaurants." When potential restaurants discover that alcohol sales are not allowed in most of the city, "it's like a wall goes up," he said.

"We're the same way," Marcia Cook, executive director for the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce, said of the affected area of Sherwood.

During the 1950s, voters in the now-defunct Gray Township approved the ban on alcohol. That prohibition still exists, even though many such voting districts were abolished across Pulaski County in the 1980s.

The measure, if it passes, would allow on-premises, by-the-drink alcohol sales at restaurants. A ban on liquor stores, bars and clubs within the township's limits would remain even if the measure passes. Grocery stores and gas stations still wouldn't be able to legally sell wine or beer.

With the passage of Act 144 in the most recent legislative session, the ability for cities to do away with their "dry" sections became more feasible. The act, co-sponsored by state Rep. Bob Johnson, D-Jacksonville, allows city councils to call elections to change their alcohol laws.

A previous state law required petitioners to gather signatures from 15 percent of the electorate in order to hold a special election related to alcohol consumption. Attempts to reach the required number of petition signatures in the old Gray Township in 2013 and 2015 both failed.

Voting sites

Special election in the Gray Township voting district. At issue: whether to allow on-premises alcohol sales Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Election information is available at www.pulaskiclerk.com , votepulaski.net or (501) 340-8336.

Precinct 614

Precinct 26, Bayou Meto Baptist Church, 26200 Arkansas 107, Jacksonville.

Precinct 27, McArthur Assembly of God Church, 3501 John Harden Drive, Jacksonville

Precinct 28, Kellogg Valley Baptist Church, 9516 Bamboo Lane, North Little Rock.

Gray 56 Township

Precinct 13, Sylvan Hills United Methodist Church, 9921 Sylvan Hills Highway, Sherwood.

Precinct 28, Kellogg Valley Baptist Church, 9516 Bamboo Lane, North Little Rock.

Precinct 31, Sylvan Hills United Methodist Church, 9921 Sylvan Hills Highway, Sherwood.

Precinct 32, The Connection Church of Sherwood, 14322 Arkansas 107, Jacksonville.

Precinct 39, Brockington Road Church of the Nazarene, 9860 Brockington Road, Sherwood.

Precinct 41, Jack Evans Senior Citizen Center, 2301 Thornhill Drive, Sherwood.

Precinct 44, Indianhead Lake Baptist Church, 8601 Indianhead Drive, Sherwood.

Precinct 47, Berea Baptist Church, 104 East Valentine Road, Jacksonville.

Precinct 48, Harris Elementary School, 4424 Arkansas 161 North., North Little Rock.

Gray 54 Township

Precinct 27, McArthur Assembly of God Church, 3501 John Harden Drive, Jacksonville.

Precinct 28, Kellogg Valley Baptist Church, 9516 Bamboo Lane, North Little Rock.

Precinct 29, Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive, Jacksonville.

Precinct 30, Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive, Jacksonville.

Precinct 33, Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive, Jacksonville.

Precinct 34, St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church, 2403 McArthur Drive, Jacksonville.

Precinct 35, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 2413 North Eastern St., Jacksonville.

Precinct 36, First Presbyterian Church, 1208 W. Main St., Jacksonville.

Precinct 37, First Baptist Church, 401 N. First St., Jacksonville.

Precinct 38, Jacksonville Senior Center, 100 Victory Circle, Jacksonville.

Precinct 45, Jacksonville Senior Center, 100 Victory Circle, Jacksonville

Precinct 46, Berea Baptist Church, 104 East Valentine Road, Jacksonville.

Precinct 47, Berea Baptist Church, 104 East Valentine Road, Jacksonville.

Precinct 48, Harris Elementary School, 4424 Arkansas 161 North, North Little Rock.

Metro on 11/14/2017

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