Two Petitions Aim At Changing Alcohol Sales - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/15/06-Longview

Two Petitions Aim At Changing Alcohol Sales

You may know, when it comes to selling and buying alcohol, Smith County is a "dry county," but Gregg county is actually considered to be "damp." That means some areas are dry and others are wet. It's a law that's confused many citizens and has created hassle for some restaurants and grocery stores. That's why one group called "East Texans United for Better Business" wants to change the law. 

Right now, you can't buy alcohol just anywhere in Longview. In dry areas, grocery stores can't sell beer or wine and restaurants can't sell mixed drinks without having you sign up for a membership.

Gerard Cace, owner of Johnny Cace's says, "We have to get their information, their name and address, and they have to fill out an application."

And some see that as a hassle. 

"I think it's silly to have to have a card or join a membership to get a little drink if you want it," says Phyllis Feldman.

At Skinner's grocery store there are two aisles of beer and wine, but just a few blocks North, grocery stores can't sell any alcohol. That's because they're in a dry precinct.

That's why some grocery stores and restaurant owners have joined forces--circulating two petitions throughout the city. One that lets grocery and convenience stores that are currently dry, sell beer and wine. The other allowing restaurants in dry areas to sell mixed beverages, without having to be a private club. 

"It's just not fair you need level the playing field, everybody ought to have the same ability to sell the same products. You have sales tax revenue that you're losing to the city of Longview because people aren't coming there to buy beer or wine and they're not purchasing other stuff over there so you're losing sales tax revenue," says Billy Horton, petition coordinator.

Buy not everyone agrees the change would be a good one. 

"I believe that if they want it they'll have to go to a little trouble to get it," says Fay Nelle Youngblood, who does not support of petitions.

Nor does Wanda Smellie. She says, "I would ban it completely, I would back go back to Prohibition if it was left up to me.'

Ultimately the signatures of 6000 citizens will decide if this issue gets put on the ballot next May.

An important thing to note, this law change would not allow liquor stores to open up in dry areas. Already, the group has more than 1000 signatures after just a week of petitioning.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com.

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