Learned His Lesson, Liquor Store Owner Says

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Nov. 22, 2010 12:00 am  

Mark Hughes, whose family owns Ship 'n Shore Liquor Mart near the Hot Spring County line in Garland County, is bitter.

For 25 years, Ship 'n Shore has been the closest liquor store to Arkadelphia, and Hughes has made a point of doing business in the Clark County city that provided him with the lion's share of his customers.

"I know who fed my face," he said.

In 2008, a group of Arkadelphians led by attorney Andy Berry circulated a petition seeking to put the question of taking Clark County wet. And they almost succeeded in the herculean task of getting signatures from at least 38 percent of the county's registered voters: The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the petitions lacked about a dozen valid signatures.

Hughes said he contributed $500 to the cost of the successful legal challenge, but being part of the winning side didn't help Hughes for long.

"The rumor got out that I spent 50 or 60 thousand dollars to buy off the appeals court," he groused last week.

This year the petition drive was successful, but opposition was strong.

"Down at the county fair, they had the no-alcohol signs and T-shirts. If you go by the signs and T-shirts, you'd think it would fail big-time," Clark County Judge Ron Daniell said.

Instead, the sale of alcohol was approved by 56 percent of voters.

Hughes doesn't think it was right that proponents of alcohol sales encouraged students at the two colleges in Arkadelphia, Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University, to register to vote in Clark County. Those young voters, some of them not even old enough to legally buy alcohol, made the difference, Hughes believes.

But he denied continuing rumors that his family spent money to try to defeat the referendum.

"All I done is contribute $500 the first time," he said.




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