HOT SPRING COUNTY, Ark. – The push is on to make Hot Spring County wet. A group called Committee for Progress for Hot Spring County is out every day asking for signatures to put alcohol sales on the ballot. Even after some setbacks, they’re not giving up hope.
Sign in one hand clipboard in the other, Robert Barrett and Paul Helberg are leading the charge to take Hot Spring County from dry to wet.
“It’s archaic. It doesn’t belong here in the 21st century. It just doesn’t,” Barrett said.
They started the push in January. The goal is to get about 7,000 signatures to get alcohol sales on the ballot.
“We could increase sales taxes, increase property taxes we can decrease DUI’s, we could decrease traffic accidents,” Helberg said.
In March, COVID-19 put their efforts to a halt.
“It just stopped us cold,” Barrett said.
For six weeks they couldn’t go out and get signatures. As things started to reopen, Barrett and Helberg set up shop and turned their petition into a drive-through.
“We’ll go to their window, we’ll hand them the clipboard they’ll sign it and hand it back just the least interaction that we can,” Helberg said.
“We got to get out and make this happen,” Barrett said.
They didn’t expect the best turn out.
“We don’t know how people are going to react to the virus,” Barrett said.
Day after day, however, the wheels kept rolling in.
“I think it’s really time we get this county to be wet,” Petition signee James Mitchell said.
“That’s what floored me. My first day out here I couldn’t believe that many people coming out. I didn’t think they would,” Barrett said.
Now, going full steam ahead, they have petitions out every day from morning until night. They’re hoping to get as many signatures as they can before July.