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EUREKA - Eureka waited 144 years to allow alcohol sales. It is still waiting.

Delays at the Illinois State Police office that conducts background checks for liquor licenses have left three Eureka businesses waiting for their chance to sell alcohol.

"It's been since November, and they keep saying they are waiting on the state," said Candie Crismon, manager of Huck's. "A lot of people have come in and asked about it."

Crismon, who plans to sell beer and wine coolers, had several beverage coolers delivered in December. They are sitting mostly empty against one wall of the store.

"I'm ready," she said. "I'm just waiting on the license."

The city's longtime dry status was lifted via a 618-576 vote in an April 2005 referendum. By September, the council had approved an ordinance detailing the application process.

Huck's and Casey's gas stations applied, followed by Rosie's Tex Mex Restaurant. Police Chief Al Misener sent in the background checks before Thanksgiving and was told they would be ready in six weeks.

"I'm not personally frustrated with it. Whenever we get the background checks, we get them," Eureka Mayor Scott Punke said. "The applicants are frustrated."

The wait isn't likely to end soon.

Even after the background checks arrive, the applications will need to be reviewed at a special meeting of the liquor commission, and then approved again by the full City Council. That process could take another three weeks.

Punke said it is possible for the city to approve licenses without background checks, but it would require a change in the ordinance. There has been no discussion about taking that step, he said.

"I don't think anybody on the council is in a big rush to push it," Punke said. "I am comfortable just patiently waiting."

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