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Hartselle Enquirer

Better off with booze?

By Staff
Bridgeport, the last to go wet, reports no problems, more money
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
BRIDGEPORT – Bridgeport is a small, sleepy little southern town nestled in Jackson County in northwest Alabama. It's home to some 3,000 people, many of whom consider travelling to nearby Scottsboro as "going to town."
It also has the distinction of being the last Alabama city to approve alcohol sales within its limits.
Hartselle voters will go to the polls Nov. 5 to decide whether to allow alcohol sales in the city. Bridgeport voters faced the same decision more than a decade ago, opting to legalize the sale of alcohol June 5, 1990. The election was contested and the city stayed dry until 1993. Now, liquor is sold in the city and, according to city clerk Inda Galovich, alcohol-related problems have lessened.
"There's been a decrease in DUIs and public intoxications," Galovich said. "There have also been changes in our litter control problems. People used to go across the Tennessee line to buy their beer and then they would throw their cans out on the side of the road. That's gone away now."
Bridgeport is one of eight wet Alabama municipalities located in dry counties. Bridgeport and Scottsboro, both in Jackson County, are wet, as are Clanton in Chilton County, Enterprise in Coffee County, Florence in Lauderdale County, Guntersville in Marshall County, Jasper in Walker County and Decatur in Morgan County.
Out of 67 Alabama counties, 41 are wet and 26 are dry.
Each of those cities and counties benefit from the sales tax generated from the alcohol sales. In Bridgeport, that money is helping to construct a new library this year.
"The library was located in a small room in city hall and now, we're using money from that account (alcohol-generated sales tax) to re-do the old post office to use as the library," Galovich said.
Galovich said the alcohol sales tax generates an average of $5,000 per month. That money – some $60,000 last year – is put into a special fund and used for various city projects.
Galovich said while she understands some people's opposition to alcohol sales, it has helped Bridgeport.
"We're right here in the Bible belt and a lot of people don't see things the way we do. They've got a right to their opinion," she said. "But some people don't see how bad we need this money. If this passes, you'll be surprised at how much money it will generate."