Wet or dry: It’s their decision
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 10, 2012 | 2075 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rev. Zenus Windsor talks to a friend in downtown Lineville. Windsor favors keeping alcohol sales illegal in Clay County, the last totally dry county in Alabama, but he says he still buys wine in a neighboring county and drinks it at home daily to keep his cholesterol in check. Photo: Jay Reeves/The Associated Press
Rev. Zenus Windsor talks to a friend in downtown Lineville. Windsor favors keeping alcohol sales illegal in Clay County, the last totally dry county in Alabama, but he says he still buys wine in a neighboring county and drinks it at home daily to keep his cholesterol in check. Photo: Jay Reeves/The Associated Press
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For Alabama’s lone completely dry county, legalized alcohol sales boil down to an issue of morality vs. money. Neither is insignificant.

If it’s morality that keeps Clay County voters from seeking an end to their long-standing prohibition, bettors shouldn’t lay down a 10-spot on the Volunteer County changing its ways. Clay County is as rural as a summer day is long, and the conservative, if not religious, viewpoints of its residents are pronounced.

If it’s money that’s keeping Clay County dry, well, that’s a different story altogether.

Per state law, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board gives Clay County a portion of the state’s alcohol sales revenue. Clay County’s annual check is about $315,000, according to an Associated Press story this week. For a sparsely populated county with few ways to generate new revenue, that’s real money. It’s also money some people fear would be hard to replace if the county went wet and had to get its liquor and beer revenue the old-fashioned way — by earning it through legal alcohol sales.

Meanwhile, there are those who see the morality vs. money from an entirely different perspective.

Morality: It’s 2012, not 1912, and prohibiting alcohol sales is a relic of the rural South’s ultra-conservative ways.

Money: There’s revenue in alcohol sales, and it’s absolutely foolish for the county and legal entrepreneurs not to take advantage of this opportunity.

As many people in this part of the state know, politics in rural Alabama aren’t rural in their simplicity.

Dry Clay County is the ultimate example of home rule in Alabama — which is ironic, since the state Legislature, empowered by the state Constitution, rarely wants local voters or local politicians doing anything without legislative approval.

Clay County has long been one of Alabama’s staunch advocates of modern-day prohibition, a prohibition that forbids liquor and beer sales but doesn’t forbid the widespread consumption of alcohol in homes — alcohol, mind you, that’s bought illegally or in neighboring wet counties.

A 1986 countywide vote kept Clay County dry. A referendum petition during the last decade died before it gained steam. Another vote isn’t likely in the near future.

Even though nearby Randolph County went wet earlier this year, Clay County seems destined to stay legally dry because a majority of residents there prefer it that way.

Whether it’s because of morality or money is up for debate. Either way, the result is the same.
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