By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW ALBANY – Voters today will decide whether wine and liquor will be legal in New Albany.
A 2012 law allows a county seat or other city with 5,000 or more residents and within a county that has voted dry to decide on liquor legalization independent of its surrounding county.
Opponents say legalized alcohol will not bring in the restaurants proponents have suggested. Citizens For An Alcohol Free County’s most recent ad in New Albany newspapers cites Baldwyn, Holly Springs and Corinth as having legalized alcohol without attracting Chili’s, Red Lobster, Applebee’s or Longhorn and adds that Corinth had Ruby Tuesday before legalization.
“Chain restaurants come based on population, not liquor. Don’t believe the deception!” the ad states. Alan Cousar, the group’s chairman, could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Proponents say legalizing alcohol is both economic and cultural advancement.
“It’s a significant factor in attracting new businesses and their management to New Albany,” CPA Britt Smith said.
“Even if big chain restaurants don’t come, I think entrepreneurs will open more restaurants and bistros,” said retiree M. Lance Phillips. “I don’t mean to discount people who have religious beliefs against it, but wine and things like that are a part of a cultured society.”
He denied that legalization would encourage nondrinkers to start imbibing.
Mississippi Department of Revenue says 34 of the state’s 82 counties are still dry for liquor, including 11 in Northeast Mississippi. Thirty-six counties are dry for beer, but many of their municipalities have separately voted to legalize beer, including the Northeast Mississippi cities of Aberdeen, Corinth, Okolona, Oxford, Starkville, and, in 2010, New Albany.
Voting will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Union County Courthouse.