ROGERSVILLE — Not only will Rogersville residents vote for president, state and local races on Tuesday, they will also decide whether to allow alcohol sales within town limits.
Rogersville City Clerk Lisa Crumley said the wet-dry election will take place at the senior citizens center, but the alcohol referendum will not be on the same ballot as the general election.
“There will be separate ballots, separate poll workers and in separate places in the senior center,” Crumley said. “The wet-dry election will be held in the rear addition of the senior center.
“Basically, we’ll have two different elections under one roof.”
This will be the second wet-dry referendum Rogersville residents have voted on in the last two years. In 2010, the referendum was voted down by one vote.
“I didn’t have a good feeling about it the last time,” said Joe Warren, owner of Warren’s BP on U.S. 72 and a supporter of the issue. “This time I have a good feeling, especially from the talk I’m hearing.”
Tom Waddell, who spear-headed the petition calling for an election, said the vote is not an alcohol issue, but an economic issue.
“Why not reap the benefits (of alcohol sales)? It’s all around us,” Waddell said.
He said Athens, Florence, Colbert County, Town Creek, Moulton and Tennessee cities and counties all sell alcohol.
“Even Joe Wheeler State Park does now,” Warren said. “Just the fact that it’s being sold at the state park will help get it voted in.”
Local businessman Morris Lentz has been vocal in his opposition to the referendum. He said he’s against alcohol sales because of the message it sends to young people.
“We should be a community of sober minds and of good examples to our youth,” Lentz said. “Why would we as a community support and/or condone a product that has the potential of bringing so much trouble to (a community or home).”
He said alcohol is the No. 1 abused drug in the U.S.
“And we want to recognized this product for it’s so-called revenue it brings to our town,” Lentz said. “No one to date has presented me any number on the economic impact alcohol sales would have in Rogersville. I look at surrounding communities that have alcohol sales and there is not obvious economic impact that I can see.”
Lentz said Rogersville is growing, and new businesses are opening. He attributes that to the town being “alcohol free.”
“I’d rather have two additional dollar stores that would generate a substantial sales tax revenue than a package store along U.S. 72,” he said.
Waddell said he worked to get the issue to a vote to allow the people of Rogersville the chance to decide.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or email@example.com.