‘Not a moral issue’
Pro-alcohol forces stress voter registration
For the proponents of alcohol sales in Hartselle, the matter all comes down to dollars and sense.
Alcohol sales would bring much-needed revenue to the city, organizers said, and allow it to compete on an even playing field with others when it comes to attracting new businesses. Now, it’s all a matter of getting out the vote.
“When the petitions (asking for a wet/dry referendum) came in, there were people on the petitions that weren’t registered voters. We’re now working hard to get the word out and get those people registered,” said Bobby Carl Francis, a member of the Hartselle Citizens for Economic Development, the group calling for legalized alcohol sales in the city.
The group has been conducting voters registration drives throughout the city and plans to do more in the coming weeks. Oct. 22 is the deadline to register for the Nov. 2 referendum.
Mark Thompson, a 21-year Hartselle resident who is also working with the group, said the response to voter registration has been positive.
“We’ve registered 25-30 people each day we’ve been out,” Thompson said. “The people of Hartselle are good people and I tell people they will be good people here after we vote, too. I don’t see it (alcohol sales) as changing the nature of the people who live here.”
Francis, who chairs the city’s Economic Development Board, said the estimated $500,000 in annual revenue that would be generated by alcohol sales is just the tip of the iceberg.
“That amount doesn’t include companion businesses, those types of companies that would come here because of other development,” Francis said.
The role of the Morgan County Business Park is also important to consider, Francis said.
“When we’re looking at growing the Morgan County Business Park, we’re going after high-tech industries and we need to be able to have those plant managers and workers live here. We want them to be able to come here and go to dinner and have a drink if they’d like. Alcohol sales would really be a measure of our progressiveness.”
For opponents of the measure, however, alcohol sales would be anything but progressive. The Families for a Safe Hartselle, which successfully helped defeat the 2002 efforts to legalize alcohol sales, has reformed and is campaigning vigorously to keep booze out of the city. The well-organized group has the support of many of the city’s churches.
Francis said his group doesn’t want anything to hurt the quality of life here, either.
“It’s ludicrous to think any of us want anything but a safe Hartselle,” he said. “However, I don’t see legalizing alcohol sales as a moral issue. I don’t criticize the churches or the believers who feel we don’t need alcohol here. However, we’re going to take the high road and keep trying to get our message out.”
Francis said his group is armed with statistics and information that it believes can help its cause. However, he said he realizes such information can often be interpreted in different ways and he would rather people consider the unique options for Hartselle.
“I really see this as a vote on objectivity vs. emotion,” he said.
Dry forces lead in fundraising
Forces behind efforts to keep Hartselle dry are far ahead in fundraising, according to financial disclosure forms filed Sept. 20 with the Morgan County Probate Judge.
Families for a Safe Hartselle, the anti-legalization of alcohol sales group, started the reporting period with a zero balance. It received $6,630 in contributions, with $1,275 in expenditures. Contributions came from:
• James and Rita Kifer, Hartselle, $1,200
• Franklin Turney, Hartselle, $1,000
• Tom Bennich, Hartselle, $550
• Darrell Sims, Hartselle, $500
• James and Janice Corum, Hartselle, $500
• Eddie Preuitt Ford, $500
• B&G OK Tire Store, $500
• Mark and Marcy Reynolds, Hartselle, $100
• Kent and Kelly Holsclaw, Hartselle, $100
• Harold Segars, Hartselle, $100
• Ed and Willie Monroe, Hartselle, $100
• Mavine Springer, Hartselle, $100
• Frank Stewart, Hartselle, $100
• Judy Spain, Hartselle, $100
• James and Shirley Galloway, Hartselle, $50
• Michael and Dawn Runager, Decatur, $50
• Don and Kay Wear, Hartselle, $50
• Jeff and Jan Harris, Falkville, $50
• Terry Thompson, Hartselle, $50
• Cindy Reeder, Hartselle, $50
• Charles and Wanda Crawford, Somerville, $50
• Rebecca Kirk, Hartselle, $50
• Barbara Beddingfield, Hartselle, $25
• Davis and Theresa Thrasher, Hartselle, $25
• Nina Johnson, Hartselle, $25
• Martha and Brent Eaton, Hartselle, $25
• In-kind contributions were reported from Oliver’s Printing ($45) and consultant Jeff Johnson ($137.05). All expenses were in connection to printing services.
Hartselle Citizens for Economic Development, proponents of legalized alcohol sales, reported a zero beginning balance and $580 in contributions. Those contributions were from:
• John and Ruth Carlin, Hartselle, $100
• Paula Hutt, Decatur, $100
• AD and Shirley Hollis, Hartselle, $100
• Kinney’s Pro Glass, Hartselle, $100
• Buddy and JoAnn Slocumb, Hartselle, $100
• Elliott and Linda Teuschler, Hartselle, $50
• Barbara Stewart, Eva, $20
• Michael and Mary Ann Brougham, Hartselle, $10
Another report must be filed 5-10 days before the Nov. 2 referendum.