Foes of Prentiss liquor question claims of boon

By LENA MITCHELL / NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

Prentiss County residents opposed to legalizing liquor are vigorously asserting their position as the vote looms today.
Brother Lee Dillard, pastor of Tuscumbia Baptist Church, said many people have been working hard to defeat the measure that would allow the sale of liquor. Their efforts include media advertising, billboards and banners.
While proponents contend that liquor sales would boost the economy, Dillard says legalized liquor brings more problems than solutions, and talk of additional tax revenue and luring chain restaurants is unrealistic.
“Our main concerns are morally, religiously and scripturally we feel alcohol is wrong,” Dillard said. “But we’ve also talked with the people in Jackson and they wouldn’t allow a special tax on alcohol for schools that’s being talked about, and we’re just too small to attract some of the chain restaurants.”
The Citizens for New Business and Growth launched the petition drive that led to today’s election after the 21-vote defeat of an August referendum to legalize beer and light wine sales in Booneville.
These supporters of alcohol sales say it will add to tax revenue, but opponents say the benefit would be insignificant.
“These special elections cost us $12,000 to $15,000,” Dillard said, “and they’d have to sell $1 million of alcohol to pay for just one of these elections, plus add the extra police force and space to house inmates and it’s just a no-win situation.”
He added: “We feel people are being promised things that are not realistic. A few people behind this will profit from it and leave everybody else paying the bill.”
Should the measure pass, existing businesses could apply for a permit from the state’s Alcohol Beverage Commission, said Kathy Waterbury, spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com