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Trinity to hold liquor referendum June 3comment (0)

April 24, 2014

By Julie Payne

The news about an upcoming liquor referendum in Morgan County’s Trinity has come as a surprise to some people in the area. 

According to Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP) executive director Joe Godfrey, alcohol legalization proponents seem to have been working “under the radar” in order to catch liquor opponents off-guard. 

The referendum, which will coincide with the primary election June 3, would allow the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages in Trinity if voters support it.

The petition calling for the liquor referendum in Trinity received 124 signatures, which is just slightly less than one-third of the entire 384 registered voters in the last municipal election, according to news reports.

Currently Decatur and Priceville are the only two Morgan County municipalities that allow alcohol sales.

Both Steve Caudle, interim pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, and Donnell Brown, director of missions for Morgan Baptist Association, had just learned of the referendum at press time. 

They reported no plans have been made to fight it, but there is certainly a desire to do so. Brown added he intends to place an article about the topic on the association’s local edition page of The Alabama Baptist newspaper.

Godfrey noted “it’s sad” that small communities are deceived into thinking that alcohol sales will somehow solve all their financial problems and bring economic growth to their area. 

“The facts are that alcohol sales often end up costing more than the revenue they bring in,” he explained. 

“Using nationwide data, we find that in Alabama for every dollar of revenue brought into a community by alcohol sales, it actually costs between $15 and $18 to clean up the mess alcohol leaves in its wake,” he said. “And small communities often do not have the infrastructure — police, emergency services, hospitals, jails, counseling services, etc. — to handle the problems associated with increased alcohol use.” 

While some argue that people are already drinking alcohol in those communities, Godfrey asked, “If sales — and thus consumption — do not increase, then why does the alcohol industry want to keep expanding into these small communities and dry counties? 

“It is because they know that the more available their product, the more of it people will buy (and consume),” he said.

According to a wet/dry map posted on the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board website, there are currently 42 wet counties in the state compared with 25 dry counties — and even most of the dry counties have cities where the sale of alcohol is legal. 

The most recent wet/dry battles in the state took place in late 2012. 

Rogersville, Boaz and Priceville were some of the cities that voted to legalize alcohol sales as did Randolph County. 

During that same timeframe, both Hartselle and Blount County managed to keep their locations dry.

“I hope Alabama Baptists throughout the state will realize the importance of opposing the continued expansion of alcohol sales in our communities and counties,” Godfrey said. 

“Alcohol destroys lives and families, it costs more than the revenues it produces and we must never forget that it is a mind-altering, addictive drug that has become an idol ... to many.”

Godfrey noted that ALCAP’s website is “filled with resources, including a manual on how to organize for a municipal option (wet/dry election), so church leaders may access that information quickly.”

To access these resources from ALCAP, visit www.alcap.com.

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