Message in a bottle

August 26, 2009 2:52:00 PM



The domino theory is being proven in northeast Mississippi. 


Within days of Starkville''s decision to allow Sunday beer sales and to petition the state to allow restaurants to sell wine and liquor on Sundays, other municipalities have looked to open the tap on their own alcohol intake. 


Columbus, which allows Sunday beer sales in restaurants and stores, is considering petitioning to allow wine and liquor sales, too. The City Council has set a public hearing on the matter for Aug. 31. 


West Point, which also allows Sunday beer sales, is asking the state to grant resort status to its downtown district, clearing the way for the city to regulate its own Sunday wine and liquor rules for restaurants that want it. 


Even some in conservative Tupelo are considering whetting their own whistle with Sunday sales. The city currently doesn''t have any beer or liquor sales on Sunday, but Starkville''s action has emboldened some to whisper the "A" word. A recent unscientific man-on-the-street story in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal revealed that more people were in favor of Sunday sales than not -- though few would go on the record with a reporter to admit as much. 


We believe there''s no blanket "correct" course of action for each city. Citizens in each must make their own decisions about what is best for the character of their particular neck of the woods. (That said, Columbus and West Point already allow Sunday beer sales. Having the freedom to buy a margarita in a Mexican restaurant instead of a beer, for example, doesn''t seem like much of a stretch.) 


We''re at least pleased with the urgency that Columbus, in particular, has shown, for no other reason than we didn''t know they had it in them. We''d like to remind Columbus leaders, however, that there are other less morally contested moves Starkville has made that we''d like to see pounced upon.  


For instance, Starkville has a shiny new multi-purpose indoor sportsplex facility, conveniently located next to a soccer complex. They have made moves to clean up, repair and beautify city sidewalks. An effort to build and line more bike lanes and bike paths could be moving more quickly, but the need is on leaders'' radar. (That said, Columbus'' own Riverwalk is tough to beat.) And let''s not forget Starkville''s anti-smoking ordinance, a idea that community has embraced, but one that never seemed to gain much traction here. 


Advocates for expanding liquor sales cite an increased tax base and more visitors among the reasons. We''d only remind them that basic quality of life issues -- top-notch parks and sports facilities, tidy streets, clean sidewalks -- can provide an equally happy effect, and fewer headaches in the morning. 


And if our leaders could pounce on all of these issues with the same urgency as alcohol sales? We''d drink to that.