Money vs. Morals--Alcohol sales go on May ballot in Smith County

By Taylor Hemness - email

Andy Osborn owns a gas station on the corner of Highways 271 and 155, and he doesn't understand why he can't sell alcohol.

"It's a legal substance," Osborn says. "You can sell it legally on the other side of the county line. Why can't we sell it legally in Smith County?"

He says it's like watching money go out the window when people come in to buy alcohol, and leave empty-handed.

"We have people that come in here every day, and ask where the closest beer store is," Osborn says. "They drive right outside of Smith County, and drive right back in. I think it'd be good for the economy."

But just down the road in Winona, another group, called Keep Precinct 4 Dry, is gearing up for a fight, planning a campaign to inform voters.

Their argument....the extra money isn't worth it.

"Look at the costs to society as a whole," says group founder Anwar Khalifa. "Look what's going to happen to our children, our wives, our jails, our hospitals, because of this."

"There is a certain thing that I'd like to term dirty money," says Winona First Baptist Church pastor Tony Watson. "We faced this when the lottery came into Texas, and it was supposed to fix all the economic ills of our schools, and it's certainly not done that."

But Osborn says Winona is already in the cross hairs, because people are driving through there anyway to get alcohol.

"They're driving right through Winona to go to Big Sandy, and then turning around and coming back," Osborn said.

However, Keep Precinct 4 Dry will not be taking money from those stores across the line, and they say the do not rule out taking other avenues to get their message the pulpit.

"I'm not going to shy away from my conviction," Watson says. "I'm not saying that I won't preach on it, the Lord hadn't led me to that yet, but I have made my statement in my pulpit that I oppose it."