Posted by Ellen Krafve - email
WINONA, TX (KLTV) - Dry no more, maybe. Yesterday, the Smith County Citizens for Eonomic Growth submitted a petition to county officials. They want to make it legal to sell beer and wine in stores for off-premise consumption, and also in restaurants. But only in Justice of the Peace Precinct 4.
It's not even on the ballot, but the debate is already heating up.
Signs inside a service station ask residents to step up and sign up. Up the road, feelings are mixed.
"Personally, I'm against it," said Brenda Woodcock.
She works near Winona. One the areas in Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 which could potentially go wet. She doesn't like the idea, but from a business standpoint...
"Alcohol's been here for years," said Woodcock. "If it's not going to be in this district, it's going to be somewhere else."
JP Precinct 4 makes up the north east corner of Smith County. It snakes between Lindale and Winona, down to the north loop in Tyler, cuts across Spur 124 to Highway 64 East, and heads through Chapel Hill, and on over, separating a portion of Overton from Rusk County.
Adrienne Graham is with the Smith County Commissioners court.
"This is up to the citizens. This is up to the people in that precinct," said Graham.
Judge Mitch Shamburger is Justice of the Peace of Precinct 4.
"It's going to be tough getting 1500 signatures," said Shamburger.
1509 registered voter signatures, to be more exact. That's what's needed to get the issue on the May ballot.
"It can be divisive in a community," said Shramburger.
"[I] wish 'em luck," said Bob Westbrook, a Tyler Business Owner.
He helped do away with alcohol membership cards in Tyler.
"In the off premise referendum, the city actually benefits from the sales tax," explained Westbrook. "So it could be a big boom for the community."
Boom and booze. Which could soon make its way to a ballot near you.
Smith County officials say the deadline to collect those JP Precinct 4 signatures is February 6th. Once those signatures are verified, Smith County Commissioners will have until March 9th to call an election.