One has been assaulted – others report property damage
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League of North Carolina
MARION – Tuesday’s liquor-by-the-drink vote in this McDowell County town may just win the award for most hotly contested alcohol issue of the year. Already one LBD opponent has been attacked; another has had her car window shattered and still others report property damage to their “Vote No” signs.
Bruce Brown, chef and owner of Bruce’s Fabulous Foods, said he has been vocal about his opposition to the push for mixed drinks ever since the Marion City Council voted unanimously to hold the referendum. Apparently, someone didn’t appreciate his bold stand and tried to shut him up with a blow to the head on Wednesday morning.
Brown said he had just arrived at the back door of his Main Street restaurant around 6:15 a.m. when someone struck him with an object in the back of the head.
“I was crumpled at the back door when I heard somebody say, ‘Vote No to that,’ and then called me a name that I can’t repeat,” Brown said. Once on the ground he said he tried to turn over, but was being kicked. He blacked out for about five to seven minutes and woke when a truck driver making his weekly delivery to the restaurant saw him and ran to help. Brown was taken to the hospital by ambulance and said he has a concussion and a few bruises, but hasn’t changed his mind about LBD.
“They’ll see how hard-headed I am,” quipped Brown, who has lived in Marion for 14 years and is among a number of restaurateurs in the Western North Carolina town who are taking a stand against the LBD push. He has had two letters to the editor published in The McDowell News.
“A lot of people thought I would be pro LBD, but I don’t want any part of it. I think it is bad for our moral climate and our economic situation. I don’t see any good that can come out of it,” Brown said. His restaurant was one of a number of eateries – from barbecue to seafood establishments – listed on an ad in Wednesday’s McDowell News opposing mixed drinks.
“So many times one of the main ideas that people who push this use is ‘we need nicer, better restaurants,'” Brown said. “The truth is, there are nice restaurants here; people need to frequent the ones we have.”
Brown offers 130 flavors of cheesecake at his lunch-only restaurant and does lots of catering without serving the first drop of alcohol. He has had patrons try to convince him that he is missing out on the gravy train that liquor could bring.
“I tell them the money is not worth it,” Brown said. “Any money received would be ill-gotten gains. We would pay for it in the long run.”
In fact, according to data released in 2002 by the Alcohol/Drug Council of North Carolina, for every one dollar generated in tax revenue from alcohol sales in North Carolina, there is a corresponding expenditure of $21.42 due to the cost of alcohol related problems.
“Alcohol, my friends, is always a drain on the economy,” the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, told members of the Marion community at a June 8 rally sponsored by Citizens for Faith and Family Values. Held in front of the McDowell County Courthouse, the event drew some 770 people despite sweltering temperatures.
In addition to the rally, the group has placed educational ads in the newspaper and on the radio and mailed brochures to many of Marion’s 4,008 registered voters.
According to the Rev. Tom Walker, pastor of Zion Hill Baptist and a leader of the group, they have also done some phone polling and will offer transportation to any alcohol opponent who needs a ride to the polls on Tuesday.
Many of the signs the Citizens for Faith and Family Values put out were stolen or defaced, Walker said.
“We had one lady who had a ‘Vote No’ sign in the back of her car and she came out from a local business and her entire back glass was smashed out,” he said. “We’ve had people whose cars have been scratched with keys if they had a Vote No sign.”
Walker said he and others decided not to replace their defaced signs, but to let them stand as a testimony to the lengths that some will go to, to push their agenda. He hopes the strong-arm tactics will backfire on Tuesday when the votes are counted.
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Early voting is ongoing through Saturday (June 21).