December 15, 2010 9:22:00 AM
BOONEVILLE - Prentiss County voters soundly rejected an effort to legalize alcohol sales in the county with about 63 percent of voters against coming out from under Mississippi dry laws.
Official vote totals showed 2,167 voters supported the referendum while 3,657 voted against it in Tuesday''s special election.
Of the county''s more than 17,000 voters, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports the issue stirred the interest of little more than a third of voters about 34 percent which included about 200 absentees.
Citizens for New Business and Growth launched the effort after an August referendum in Booneville to legalize beer and light wine sales in the city failed by 21 votes.
Gary Walker, spokesman for the group, couldn''t be reached immediately for comment on Wednesday.
Lynn Jones, who has been pastor of First Baptist Church in Booneville for 15 years, said his church bought full-page advertisements in a couple of local newspapers, urging voters to reject the proposal.
"We think there''s nothing positive about bringing liquor into the community," Jones said Wednesday. "It had been proposed as a way of bringing new business and opportunities to the community, but it''s been our impression that businesses locate for many reasons and whether liquor is available is at the bottom of the list."
Currently, 34 of Mississippi''s 82 counties are dry for hard liquor. Over the past two years, seven cities have received state approval to extend liquor sales to Sunday. Two cities and one county have voted to go from dry to wet in regard to beer, according to the state Department of Revenue.
Other cities in the states have also been considering changes to alcohol laws.
Earlier this month, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance that would allow occasional Sunday sales of alcohol. However, Mayor Pat Patterson has said he has until Dec. 21 to decide whether to veto the measure.
Aldermen voted Dec. 7 to allow on-premise alcohol sales from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on certain Sundays, such as those after University of Mississippi football games and on Mother''s Day, Father''s Day and Valentine''s Day when those holidays fall on Sundays. New Year''s was not included in the list.
Patterson has said he believes loosening the college town''s liquor laws won''t necessarily help what''s become a growing problem. Officials have said it''s not unusual to issue dozens of citations over the course of a weekend.
If Patterson does not veto the resolution, aldermen can take the request to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control board.
kj commented at 12/15/2010 12:07:00 PM:
If churches are buying advertising for policy votes, they should lose their tax-exempt status.
jls commented at 12/23/2010 9:24:00 AM:
I can understand why a community might not want bars and clubs that serve alcohol.... but sales of beer and wine for home consumption???? C'mon, folks, it's just really silly to ban that. People will go to the next county over to buy it, and you will lose all the tax revenue.
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