Jacksonville closer to vote on wet/dry issue

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - This year, Winona, Wills Point, and Rusk voted to allow alcohol sales within city limits. Now, Jacksonville could be joining them.

A group has collected enough signatures to call for a vote on liquor sales. Proponents say alcohol sales would bring the city a wave of revenue. But, opponents are worried the wave will also a bring a tsunami of problems.

Pastor Ken McEachern's gut reaction after learning Jacksonville was one step closer to becoming wet.

"I thought, 'Oh, no. Here we go again,'" said McEachern. "It's happened so many places around us...it was inevitable."

But, owner of Sadler's Kitchen and Catering, Rob Gowin says if alcohol is sold in Jacksonville, the city wins financially.

"The estimates range from $75,000 to $150,000 a year," said Gowin. "So, it's certainly not a mass amount of money."

But, it is money Gowin says Jacksonville doesn't have today.

"It's not a matter of bringing alcohol here, I think our residents bring plenty in, but they just bring it in from outside the community and that's sales tax money," said Gowin.

"As far as them getting alcohol - they've always been able to get it," said McEachern. "I think what I'm concerned about is that it's just gonna become more accessible to those who will abuse it."

Even though they only needed 1,010 signatures per petition, the group Progress Jacksonville recently collected more than 1,300 signatures to file two petitions for review by the Cherokee County voter registrar to confirm the signatures are valid. If approved, the petitions would be presented to the commissioners court, which could approve a local option liquor elections.

The first petition calls for the selling of beer and wine off-premise (at a grocery or convenience store).

"And, the other is to do the same that Tyler did in making acceptable for restaurants not to have the private club memberships - the unicards systems," said Gowin.

"There's gonna be an increased need for services such as our crisis center, which deals with battered women and children," said McEachern.

"People obviously have their religious beliefs," said Gowin.

"Probably an increased need for law enforcement," said McEachern. "And, so, I think the economic issue needs to be seen from both sides."

And, soon both sides, may decided whether to get wet, or stay dry. If the Cherokee County Commissioners Court approves the petitions, both measures would be on May's ballot.

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