Alcohol opponents deplore loss



Reacting to the loss of the wet/dry referendum in municipal elections in Oneonta and Blountsville, Keep Blount County Special leaders Larry Gipson and Glenn Bynum were especially disturbed by the revenue projections from alcohol sales announced by Oneonta city manager Ed Lowe before the election. They said Lowe stated in a TV interview before the election that the city expected to realize about $28,000 per month in beer tax revenues.

Saying that would require sale of an impossibly large quantity of liquor, Bynum said, “That’s not just wrong, I think it’s intentionally wrong. That amounts to twisting the truth with knowledge aforethought.”

Lowe told The Blount Countian that what he said in the television interview was that Arab, a town about the same size as Oneonta that went wet some time ago, was averaging about $28,000 per month in revenue from alcohol sales, and that Cullman, a larger town, was taking in about $100,000 per month. He said his comment was that Oneonta’s revenues should be somewhere in that general range.

“We don’t know what revenues we’ll realize, because we don’t have any history to provide a database to project it,” Lowe said. “We said all along we couldn’t make a valid projection. All we could do is find out what results other nearby towns had gotten.” Other reactions

Other reactions to the election by the two Keep Blount County Special leaders:

• they were disappointed with the election loss.

• “choices bring consequences”– that may not be evident immediately, but it’s inevitable, they said.

• emphasis on money as the reason for approving liquor sales, and removing morality from the debate, as proponents argued, is especially deplorable – “That’s why Rome fell – immorality from within,” Gipson said.

County will sponsor Missoula Children’s
Theater with two workshops and two
performances this summer. Treasure
Island will begin on Monday, June 23, at
11:30 a.m., with the performance Saturday, June 28. King Arthur’s Quest will
begin Monday, July 21, at 11:30 a.m.,
with the performance Saturday, July 26.
Cost is $50 per child entering grades 1-
12. More information and registration
forms are available at the Oneonta
Public Library, Neely Arts Center, or email

• more money doesn’t justify loss of one life resulting from alcohol abuse – or one family destroyed, or one physical injury that maims someone for life, or any of the other destructive consequences of alcohol use.

• the “apathy of ministers in this town” was appalling, Gipson said

• leaders should be held accountable for statements made during thecampaign, and for whatever consequences follow from legalization of alcohol sales. Supreme Court appeal

Questioned about the status of the Supreme Court appeal of Circuit Court Judge Steven King’s ruling that cleared the way for the election, they said they had received no updates on progress of the appeal. It was filed with the court last fall, and they were advised at the time that it could be up to 18 months before the court takes any action, one way or another. There have been no changes to that estimate, they said.

“A Supreme Court decision overturning Judge King’s ruling would nullify the election,” Gipson said. “ We would go back to the previous criterion of towns having to have a population of 7000 to call for a referendum, plus they’d have to undo everything they’ve done up to that time – places selling alcohol would have to stop.”

Would they appeal again if the Supreme Court appeal fails?

“This appeal has cost us more than $10,000 so far. And that’s just to date. That doesn’t count what additional fees we may owe before the appeal is over. Of course, it depends on what our people want to do. If we lose this, I’m not sure they would want to give any more. I’d say if we lose at the state level, it’s over,” he said.

Gipson said the Keep Blount County Special group might mount a campaign to educate children and adults against the dangers of alcohol. For adults, that might take the form of a media campaign using materials designed for radio, TV, and newspaper outlets. For children, it could take the form of materials for school children designed to protect them not only from alcohol, but from other forms of substance abuse, as well as from bullying.

“We will continue to do all we can to stand against any form of evil,” Gipson said. “And we will continue to pray for our leaders and the people who opposed us.”