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Wet-Dry campaigns enter home stretch

Both sides hope to log votes with final push

Campaigners on both sides of the legalizing alcohol sales issue are making their last push to sway undecided voters before the Nov. 4 general election.

A special referendum will be held in Hartselle during Tuesday’s election to see if Hartselle voters want to legalize alcohol sales.

Both Lee Y. Greene, spokesman for Hartselle Citizens for Economic Development, and Jeff Johnson, spokesman for Families for a Safe Hartselle, were not sure how the election would turn out, but both groups are making efforts to get their message out. A rally had been planned for Thursday, but it had been cancelled.

Supporters on the dry side also held a prayer meeting last Friday, asking all voters to pray about the issue before they head to the polls.

Greene said he had no idea that they would even have an election this time around.

“We were planning to make a run at it in 2016, but once we saw the budget problems and that we were planning to cut employees, we knew we had to take action,” Greene said. “If you want to keep Hartselle to continue to have the services it does, we need a new stream of revenue but without raising taxes.”

However, Johnson said the money gained from legalizing alcohol sales wouldn’t affect the current year’s budget and that the election has a negative impact on the budget.

“We’re having to spend $20,000 on this election,” Johnson said. “After Priceville went wet two years ago, it took them at least six months to start seeing any revenue from alcohol. Priceville took a very conservative approach in drafting their ordinance, and I’m sure that Hartselle would do the same thing if it went wet.”

Greene agrees with his “dry” opponents about keeping bars and lounges out of Hartselle, but he wants to keep the money from alcohol sales made by Hartselle residents in the city.

“We want to do it like Cullman has done it,” Greene said. “We don’t want bars and lounges, but we want people who drink responsibly and in moderation to be able to buy it here and keep that revenue here.”

Johnson said going wet would also cause Hartselle to lose control over keeping out bars and lounges in the city limits.

“There was a case just last year where the City of Gulf Shores rejected an alcohol application to a movie theater only to have the (Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control) Board overturn it on appeal,” Johnson said. “The only guaranteed way to keep bars and lounges out is to vote no.”

Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Only registered voters in Hartselle city limits will be eligible to vote in this election.

Applications for absentee ballots will still be accepted until Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Hartselle City Hall.

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