By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
November 28, 2012
TAYLORSVILLE — Four years after Taylorsville voters said no to mixed drinks and on-premise beer and wine sales, voters in Alexander County will soon face another push for alcohol as county commissioners voted last week to hold county-wide referenda on ABC stores, beer and wine sales, and liquor by the drink.
The vote, 4-1, with Commissioner Darrell Robertson opposing, was a bit of a surprise to members of the Alexander Citizens for Faith and Family Values, but the group says it is already gearing up to spread the truth about alcohol sales — that they aren’t an economic savior for ailing communities and in fact bring more harm than good.
“If you just use logical thinking, you realize that the more alcohol is available, the more people you will have driving drunk. Alcohol affects how people work together, how they treat one another in their families. Alcohol is never a boost to encourage family togetherness,” said Rev. Tony Dyson, pastor of Concord Baptist Church.
He said members of Citizens for the Future of Alexander County who presented the alcohol issue to commissioners emphasized the need for residents to keep their cash inside county lines.
“Because Alexander County is small — surrounded by Catawba, Wilkes, Iredell and Caldwell — people are leaving to shop, to go to work, to eat out,” he explained. “They are saying we need to encourage people to buy locally, which is no problem, but then they brought it around to what we need is an alcohol referendum…. But the fallout from alcohol is greater than any advantage.”
Alcohol proponents say if one person in each of the estimated 12,000 cars that leave Alexander every workday spends $5 in a neighboring county, it takes more than $15.5 million annually in sales away from Alexander.
But Dyson and others with Alexander Citizens for Faith and Family Values point out that alcohol sales offer no guarantee of keeping shoppers inside county lines.
“The only shopping plaza really is a local Wal-Mart and surrounding stores. There’s no shopping mall, so people are going to leave to shop at area malls. To bring alcohol is not going to change that,” Dyson said.
The Rev. Phil Addison told the County Commission that the county hasn’t even been able to keep a Hardee’s in town, much less an upscale restaurant like a Chili’s or Applebee’s. Both he and Gary Jennings, chair of ACFFV, addressed the board and warned that alcohol is not an economic cure-all.
“Studies show that for every dollar generated in tax revenue for alcohol sales in the state, there is a corresponding expenditure of more than $20 because of the cost of alcohol related problems,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “The main task for alcohol opponents in Alexander will be to get out this truth — alcohol sales simply don’t pay.”
Rev. Dyson said he expects many of the same churches, individuals and organizations that united to fight LBD in Taylorsville in 2008 in what he called a resounding defeat (57 to 43 percent), to reunite for the coming referendum. He said anyone wishing to get involved should connect with ACFFV via its web site, www.acffv.org.
The group is already gearing up for battle even though the date of the referendum has not been set, and the Alexander Board of Elections reported Wednesday that it had not yet received a request for such a referendum from the County Commission. Once a request has been received, the BOE will set the date for the vote at least 60 days in the future.