Dry forces regroup against alcohol, celebrate 10th anniversary
Opposition to the legalized sale of alcoholic beverages in Hartselle was underscored on Thur., Sept. 26, when Families for a Safe Hartselle conducted a press conference in E.A.R.T.H. Park to celebrate its 10th anniversary and counter the claim of “wet” forces that alcohol taxes are essential to the future well-being of the city.
“When we organized 10 years ago at least one person pushing alcohol sales predicted doom and gloom if we did not approve alcohol sales,” said Jeff Johnson, co-founder of the organization. “That has not happened. “Take a look at the progress we’ve made:
“The city budget was $7.3 million 10 years ago. Today, it’s $10.4 million. $500,000 of additional revenue is expected in fiscal 2012-2013 due to the expiration of tax abatements for Lowe’s and Captain D’s and the operation of the new aquatic center. In addition, business investments on Highway 31 have totaled almost $25 million since 2006 and we have had an 18 percent population growth since 2000.”
Hartselle is what a hometown should be,” he pointed out. “Heritage, compassion and progress—how can you argue with that?”
Hartselle native and Athens businessman Mark Coleman followed Johnson. speaking in front of an estimated 60 people who held opened umbrellas and “Vote No” signs.
“The quality of life in Hartselle is beyond reproach,” said Coleman, “and I take great pride in living here and telling my out-of-state business associates and friends that I’m from Hartselle, Ala.
“Just like McDonald’s and Cracker Barrel, Hartselle has its own brand,” he pointed out. “It’s made up of excellent schools, championship sports, low crime rate, religious faith and strong family values. But most important of all, it’s a safe place to raise a family.”
“The wet-dry vote coming up will either confirm or destroy the Hartselle brand. “We don’t need another temptation; we don’t need to take a chance that we’ll lose what we’ve got.”
As the last speaker, Kim Upton, executive director of Milestone Ministry, used her personal experience to warn of the dangers of alcohol abuse.
“Both of my parents were alcoholics,” she stated. “They taught me how to drink when I was a sixth grader and by the time I was a junior in high school I was a full blown alcohol and drug addict.
“I remained addicted until I became a Christian 14 years ago and was able to get my life back on the right track,” she pointed out. Today, I’m helping 26 ladies who are recovering alcohol and drugs addicts.
“We have a small restaurant, “Dixie”, downtown. “We‘ve had customers ask if we’re going to serve beer if the city goes wet? Our answer is “no.””
FBC holds alcohol awareness rally
An estimated 75 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 attended an Alcohol Awareness Rally at First Baptist Church, Hartselle, on Sunday afternoon.
Joe Godfrey, executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP), was guest speaker.
He talked about drunk driving, teenage drinking and the health and economic costs of alcohol.
“If you vote “wet” you’re going to find alcohol anywhere in your business district,” Godfrey warned, “Because the goal of the alcohol industry is to get alcohol sales approved in every county and small town in Alabama.”
He said it is now legal in the state for alcohol distributors to sell beer with a 13 percent alcoholic content and wine with a 24 percent alcoholic content.
Godrey pointed out that alcohol-related wrecks are the main cause of accidental deaths among those 16 to 19 years of age.
“Since the legal drinking age was raised from 18 to 21 in 1975 the number of lives saved totals 27,052,” he pointed out.
Free literature on alcohol dangers and prevention was provided to the youth and their parents and those of voting age were encouraged to take a voter registration application and register in time to vote in the wet-dry referendum and November General Election.