Down to the wire
Alcohol sales to be decided Nov. 5
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Amidst a flurry of advertising and increasingly hot tempers, Hartselle voters are getting ready to head to the polls next Tuesday to decide if alcohol sales should be allowed in the city.
Polls will open at 7 a.m. next Tuesday.
The referendum follows weeks of campaigning by both sides, with churches, local residents and area business leaders all getting involved. The alcohol issue was put on the ballot after more than 800 signatures were collecting on a petition calling for the wet/dry vote.
Work on the "vote no" campaign has been led by Families for a Safe Hartselle, a grassroots political action group led by attorney Jeff Johnson and pastor Michael Grooms. They claim Mayor Clif Knight and City Councilman Don Hall are among their members.
Several weeks ago, the group also mailed a letter from prominent business leaders calling on residents to vote against allowing alcohol sales.
The fight against alcohol is a moral one, according to Hartselle Church of Christ minister Phillip Hines.
"People move to Hartselle because it's a great town and it's a great place to raise their children and their families. Our concern is about the quality of life," Hines said.
"There's going to be a change and we just don't want that to happen."
The "vote yes" side has been led by local business people, including Lora and Dennis Ramey, owners of Ramey's Shell Station. Ramey spearheaded the drive to collect the signatures in order to have the wet/dry vote placed on the ballot.
Lora Ramey said she thinks alcohol sales would help area businesses and bring in needed revenue to the city.
It's the need for additional revenue for the often financially strapped city that has brought the alcohol issue to the forefront.
Officials said many project have been put on hold because the city cannot afford to do them. Much of the city's money comes from sales tax revenues, which have slipped in the slow economy.
In anticipation of alcohol sales being approved, city leaders have been working on an ordinance that would limit where liquor could be sold.
The current draft of the ordinance requires alcohol sales to be kept 500 feet from churches or schools. There are several exceptions, though, including if the business and church or school face different streets or if the establishment wanting to sell alcohol is a grocery store.