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GENTRY -- Residents will have to wait awhile longer to decide if alcohol will be sold on Sunday in the city.

The issue will not be on the ballot for the Nov. 3 general election. Benton County Circuit Judge Doug Schrantz on Friday denied a request to delay mailing ballots for the election.

Charles Jech and Jerah Jech filed a petition Thursday against county officials for an injunction to prevent ballots from being mailed to voters. The petition requested the Benton County Election Commission and Benton County Clerk be ordered to include the alcohol sales petition on the November ballot in Gentry.

Schrantz denied the injunction and ruled the alcohol measure hadn't been submitted by deadline and couldn't be placed on the ballot. The judge also denied the request to add the item to the ballot.

Gentry's City Council, by resolution Sept. 8, added the measure to the Nov. 3 ballot following a petition by the Jechs, including the necessary signatures, to have the initiative added to the November ballot.

According to Mayor Kevin Johnston, City Clerk Jenny Trout reviewed and verified the signatures. To be placed on the ballot by initiative, the signatures of at least 15 percent of the electors within the city who voted for governor in the last general election must be obtained. He said the council action was only to add the item to the ballot since sufficient verified signatures had been obtained.

Johnston told the Jechs on Sept. 10 the city failed to properly and timely turn in the petition to the Benton County Clerk and the issue wouldn't be on the ballot, according to court documents. Johnston offered to pay for a special election to be held after the general election in November.

The Jechs' request for the injunction claims the petition was filed with the city clerk and approved by the city in a timely manner.

Benton County Clerk Betsy Harrell said the deadline was Aug. 25. The office started mailing absentee ballots Friday to voters, she said.

If voters pass the initiative, the measure will allow the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption between 10 a.m. and midnight Sunday.

Tracy M. Neal can be reached by email at [email protected] or Twitter @NWATracy.

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