Letter to the Editor

Amending the morals of Green Forest

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I am Green Forest City Alderman Cody Boren. I wish to address the citizens of Green Forest and those of the community who will be affected by the pending Green Forest City Ordinance No. 653. During Green Forest's city council meeting on Nov. 15, 2016, Ordinance No. 653 was read. Ordinance No. 653 is "An Ordinance Amending ... Public Peace, Safety and Morals of the City of Green Forest, Arkansas" as the title reads. Ordinance No. 653 alters the current ordinance by permitting local establishments to serve alcohol on Sundays from noon to 10 p.m., which is currently prohibited. When Ordinance No. 653 was brought before the council for a vote, Alderman Norton and myself voted against the ordinance. Aldermen Tim Hatman and Willa Kerby voted in favor of the new ordinance. While Mayor Charlie Reece opted to break the tie vote, by also voting in favor of the new amendment.

This is not the first time in which this issue has been brought before council for consideration. I can recall years ago, sitting in the Green Forest City Hall chambers. The room was filled with those against the idea of alcohol sales on Sunday. As well as the representatives who were in favor of Sunday sales of alcohol. The Green Forest City Council chose to continue the prohibition of alcohol sales on Sunday. Once this decision was reached, those who opposed alcohol sales on Sunday were publicly cursed and ridiculed by the opposition.

In 2014, the issue arose again. It was proposed that the sale of alcohol on Sundays be placed on a special election ballot. It is my belief that any amendment or alteration of the citizens who I represent should be left up to themselves, not the city council or mayor. The city withdrew the 2014 special election proposition due to the State of Arkansas placing Issue No. 4 on the ballot for the November election. Issue No. 4 does not directly cover alcohol sales on Sunday but the issue was similar enough at the time to suffice, as a substitute for those in favor of alcohol sales on Sunday. Issue No. 4 failed on a state level with 57.41 percent of the vote against compared to the 42.59 percent of the vote in favor. Issue No. 4 also failed in Carroll County with 57.89 percent of the vote against compared to 42.11 percent of the vote in favor. The results for Issue No. 4 in the city of Green Forest were: Ward I 58 votes in favor compared to 148 votes against; Ward II 58 votes in favor compared to 127 votes against. In summary, Issue No. 4 failed on a Green Forest city level by 29.67 percent in favor and 70.33 percent against. These statistics can be confirmed through the Arkansas Secretary of State and the Carroll County Clerk's Office.

Twice, have the people spoken regarding this issue, and while there are some who have voiced their opinion that the current ordinance should be amended, the majority of the citizens of Green Forest are against alcohol sales on Sunday. On Nov. 15, 2016, when this issue (twice settled) was brought up for a third time, I voiced my concern that as city council, it is our duty to represent the voice of the majority. Alderman Hatman informed me that as council we need to be "business-friendly." I agree that as Green Forest city aldermen we need to assist our local businesses and do what can be done to attract future establishments to the city. However, I will not do this against the will of The People and at the cost of "amending" their morals. In truth, this ordinance is not "business friendly," but "select-establishment friendly."

I will refrain from elaborating on the increase of alcohol consumption leading to an increase of DWIs, accidents and domestic disturbances. However, I will state that permitting alcohol sales on an additional day will inevitably lead to an increase in alcohol consumption, which in turn will lead to an increase in alcohol-related incidents and crimes. This proposed ordinance to embrace a "business-friendly" mindset not only amends the morals of The People, but it also amends the safety of the citizens of Green Forest and the people of this community as a whole.

In conclusion, it is my belief that any amendment or alteration thereof, to the morals and safety of the citizens of Green Forest should be left up to them, The People. It is the "amending" of morals that has our nation in its current predicament. So as a fellow citizen and as the elected voice of the people, I ask for your assistance in this matter. Contact Mayor Reece's office and the members of city council and let your voice be heard, so that we may better represent you. Lastly, ask Mayor Reece to be placed on the agenda for the December council meeting so that you can let your voice be heard once more.

I thank you all for your time and I thank the Carroll County News for this opportunity.

Merry Christmas.

-- Green Forest

Alderman Cody Boren