By M.H. Cavenaugh
Christian Action League
September 11, 2014
HUDSON – “I feel that we as pastors, churches and Christians are called upon to be the ‘moral conscience’ of our community. If we fail to oppose alcohol with all the damage it has caused, how are we to muster the courage to oppose that which comes next, such as the legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage, etc.,” said Robert Setzer, pastor of Ambassador Baptist Church in Hudson, North Carolina.
Setzer is now the head of the newly formed referendum committee, “Citizens for a Drug Free Hudson,” an organization planning to fight a proposal for greater accessibility to alcohol in the small town.
According to the 2010 Census, Hudson’s population is just under 4000. Located as a part of the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area in Caldwell County, the town was once a booming place for furniture production. Today, however, it’s been hit by harder economic times.
“This is an all-too-common scenario,” said Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Town leaders erroneously believe that providing or increasing alcohol outlets will somehow provide their community with a better potential for recovery and growth, but the science just doesn’t substantiate that theory. In fact, increasing availability to alcohol sales is actually a drain on a community’s economy.” he added.
Concerned citizens first learned from their local newspaper, The News Topic, in July that a recommendation was planned to call for a referendum on alcohol sales. At that time the town’s board did not take up the measure. But Board members would hold their regular meeting a week early in August and take up the proposal. Despite the expressed opposition of a number of citizens present for the meeting, it was clear the board was prepared to vote in favor of putting it on the ballot for the General Election. The only board member opposed to the initiative was away.
The wording from an official sample ballot shows that Hudson residents will be deciding on whether to (1) permit the “on premises” sales of malt beverages by Class A hotels, motels, and restaurants only; and to permit “off premises” sales by other permittees; (2) permit the “on premises” and “off premises” sale of unfortified wine; (3) permit the sale of mixed beverages in hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theatres, and convention centers.”
The Christian Action League (CAL) was contacted about the referendum in late August and Dr. Mark Creech promptly responded by meeting with a group of opposition forces gathered at Ambassador Baptist Church last Sunday afternoon. Setzer said the CAL provided them with critical information about the best way opponents could get an effective campaign underway to defeat the referendum in a short amount of time.
Officers of “Citizens for a Drug Free Hudson” are Chairman, Robert Setzer, Vice Chairman, Ron Burgett, Treasurer, Nicky Waters, and Secretary, Lonnie Bell.
Setzer says the movement to defeat the proposed referendum is gaining momentum with one other additional meeting already taking place Tuesday of this week. He expects others will soon join their ranks as they move forward.
“A few years ago the Alcohol and Drug Council of North Carolina noted that for every one dollar generated in tax revenue from alcohol sales in our state, there is a corresponding expenditure of $21.42 due to the cost of alcohol related problems,” Dr. Creech contended.
“When all the facts are considered, the sale of alcohol never provides an economic boon for any community, but it will negatively change the nature of its neighborhoods. It will provide an opportunity for higher rates of crime, drunk-driving offenses, and broken families. Residents need to understand their leaders have taken the easy way out. They should have been concentrating on available labor, job skills, work ethics, adequate roads, good government, an efficient educational system, medical facilities, climate, water availability, tax laws, utilities, etc. – these are what can make a community prosperous – not whether someone can get a beer, a glass of wine or a mixed beverage,” he said.