Local town decides its fate in alcohol sale election Saturday

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

WINONA, TX (KLTV) - No matter how one East Texas precinct votes, a city in that precinct will decide their own fate. Voters in Smith County JP Precinct four, which includes parts of Tyler, Overton, Winona, and Chapel Hill, are voting on two alcohol propositions. The first will allow the sale of alcohol for off sight consumption. The second is for the sale of alcohol in restaurants.

The battle of the booze is almost over. If propositions one and two pass in Precinct four, beer and wine would be for sale. However, the only place you could buy hard alcohol would be in Winona, if Winona voters approve it. You see, they're voting for their city alone, so Precinct four's results won't affect their city.

"It could pass in Precinct 4 and fail in Winona or vice versa," explained Winona Mayor Rusty Smith.

The mayor has remained neutral, but now in the final hours, is coming out and encouraging residents to vote "Yes". He said passing props one and two would be the first step to a more lucrative future.

"It's like planting a seed for growth," said the mayor. "With that business in town and increased traffic that would be coming to Winona because of that, it might entice other businesses, such as a grocery store or maybe a national restaurant chain to look at our area."

"We don't need to go wet to bring more money," said Pastor Tony Watson, with Keep Precinct Four Dry. "We just need to work harder at bringing those other businesses in. Maybe we need to go out and try to recruit."

Pastor Watson said his congregation was disheartened by the mayor's endorsement. He believes turning Winona wet would be a slippery slope.

"For me, that argument is similar to saying I can't find a good job so I'm going to sell drugs in order to get money to support my family," said Watson. "I'm going to make money any way I can. What does that say to our children that our parents and adults are fighting for something that literally destroys lives?"

But, Mayor Smith looks just miles down the road to Big Sandy, a wet town which he said has double the economic growth. The issue of money and morals hits the polls Saturday.

While Mayor Smith said he doesn't think selling alcohol would be an instant fix, he does believe it would help spur on more business. Others, however, have pointed to Lindale, a town that has remained dry, yet is thriving and growing.

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