By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
IUKA – The issue of whether liquor, beer and light wine will be legally sold in Tishomingo County was settled in a special referendum election last week, with legal sales winning out.
The county voted by the slimmest margin to come out from under the state’s dry law and also to permit the sale of beer.
Local officials must now enact appropriate ordinances for businesses to be licensed, which is likely to take some weeks.
However, even before legal procedures are in place, people on the pro side and those who fought against legalization continue to act.
The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board holds jurisdiction over both content of alcoholic liquor ordinances and permits to sell. Any business desiring a permit must run a legal notice in the local newspaper to give opponents a chance to file objections with the ABC board, and as of Friday the Tishomingo County News had not received any such legal notices, according to an employee.
However, beer permits are governed by the municipal ordinance in which beer is to be sold, and local municipalities have yet to craft and enact ordinances.
Despite that, at least two of Iuka’s four gas station/convenience stores say they will apply for a permit for beer sales: the corporate-owned Shell gas station and locally owned BP gas station. Handy Sandy, also locally owned, has not yet decided on a course of action. Exxon station owner Taft Little of Litco Petroleum in Corinth declined to comment.
Pastor Lance Foster of Iuka Church of Christ said he and other ministers remain opposed to alcohol in any form, and they will be keeping a record of changes in the county as a result of introducing alcohol to be prepared for a future vote.
“I’ve lived in both wet and dry counties and don’t believe this is best for our county,” Foster said. “We want to look at this thing logically, from a future standpoint. Every few months we’ll put together a report, what promises did come through, what didn’t, projections on tax income, DUIs. We’re going to keep up with that ourselves so when this thing comes up again we’re going to have a war chest built up.”
Asked for their opinion about the way the vote went, several Iuka residents who said they don’t drink said they felt the tax money from alcohol should stay in the county.
“I voted for it,” said J.D. Smith. “It’s time for a change, and I just hope we’ll get some industry on this end of the county.”
The Citizens Coalition for a Dry County, comprised of pastors and business leaders, plan to push for restrictions on how alcohol and beer are sold, said spokesman Pastor Tony Curtis of Fifth Street Baptist Church.
“We’re going to continue to work within the city and county,” he said. “I think we lost the election because of the sheer fact that so many people in the community thought we had it. I’ve heard from dozens of people, and we’re going to work faithfully within the law to make sure there are restrictions. We want to protect our families, our kids, don’t want them exposed it. We’re going to work one day to have another vote.”