In wake of vote, Starkville residents, visitors still split on Sunday alcohol sales

August 20, 2009 10:11:00 AM

Tim Pratt -


A day after the Starkville Board of Aldermen voted to allow Sunday alcohol sales, the city of about 24,000 Wednesday had mixed feelings about the issue.  


A walk down Main Street revealed some residents and Mississippi State University students were in favor of Sunday sales. Others were adamantly opposed.  


Phil Bridges lives right outside of Starkville, but spent part of his Wednesday afternoon downtown. Bridges says he approves of Sunday sales.  


"It''s fine with me," he said. "To me it makes sense. If you want to go out to eat on Sunday, it seems to me you should be able to have a drink." 


"If people don''t want to drink on Sunday, they don''t have to," he added. 


Helen Herringdine, a Mississippi State University student from Athens, Ga., also was in favor of Sunday sales. 


"I think it''s great," she said. "I think it''s going to be good for businesses." 


Aldermen Tuesday voted 4-3 to amend the city''s alcohol ordinance and allow businesses to sell beer and light wine on Sundays. Businesses such as grocery stores, service stations, restaurants, bars and nightclubs are included. The changes won''t go into effect for another 30 days, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said. 


The board Tuesday also voted to petition the State Tax Commission to allow restaurants, bars and nightclubs to sell liquor and wine by the glass on Sundays. The Tax Commission has to approve those changes before they go into effect, Dumas said. 


Liquor stores are run by the state and still won''t be open on Sundays, he said.  


But not everybody in Starkville and Oktibbeha County was in favor of the ordinance amendments.  


"I would have voted against it," said Gerald McKibben as he sat on a bench along Main Street. "I think we could have survived without it, but I also think we will survive with it." 


The Rev. Thomas Rogers Jr., of Josey Creek Missionary Baptist Church just west of Starkville, spoke out against the amendments Tuesday at City Hall and reiterated his concerns Wednesday. 


"The passing of this ordinance has dishonored our Lord Jesus Christ," Rogers said. "The Lord said in Exodus 20:8, ''Remember the Sabbath Day,'' to keep it holy. A lack of respect for God''s commandments always puts a rebellious people at a disadvantage. To put revenue before rightness is a disadvantage. Speaking of revenue, the sale of alcohol may increase, but the sale of food will decrease due to the fact that Sunday dining is mainly Christian, family-structured dining." 


"The real issue at hand is not what we stand to gain, but what we stand to lose," he continued. "The church-goers that rush into restaurants after church will stop and there will be no more family dining. The question must be asked: Is this a losing equation or a winning combination?" 


But Sonny Mason, of Tupelo, was in Starkville Wednesday and didn''t agree with Rogers'' assessment. 


"I don''t see the difference between Sunday and any other day of the week," Mason said. "Saturday is the Sabbath for Jewish people. If we were concerned about the Sabbath, we wouldn''t sell (alcohol) on Saturday." 


Eugene Cox said the new Sunday alcohol policy will save him some gas money.  


"You can drive to West Point and do it, so why not?" he said.  


Bill McGovern was downtown Wednesday, as well, and said he doesn''t believe Sunday alcohol sales will be any more dangerous than any other day of the week.  


"We''re going to take a little revenue away from Columbus, but other than that I don''t think it''s going to make one iota of a difference," McGovern said.