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Pearl River County group against legalizing liquor

Editor:

Eleven years ago the residents of Pearl River County were confronted with a ballot issue of whether or not to legalize the sale of beer, wine, and liquor in the county. County residents as a majority voted against such legalization. Since then the issue of legalization of the sales of alcoholic beverages in the county has lain dormant though not forgotten by proponents of it. Recently efforts have been renewed by proponents of legalized alcohol sales in Pearl River County to obtain the signatures of sufficient voters to again place this issue on a ballot, possibly the November general election ballot.

This article is to inform concerned citizens of Pearl River County that the Citizens Action Team for Pearl River County (CAT) has been formed in order to actively oppose the petition process and if it becomes a ballot issue, the defeat of legalized alcohol sales at the ballot box. If legalized liquor were to become a reality in Pearl River County, there would be nothing stopping a bar or liquor store from moving into our neighborhood…next to a school, daycare, church or even a funeral home if they are in a commercial or industrial zone area. Regulation 7 sets guidelines for permitted premises where alcoholic beverages are sold. The minimum distance is 400 feet from the above referenced places if they are in a commercial or industrial zone.

Has Katrina’s aftermath subjected the citizens of Pearl River County to more future damage as a result of legalized liquor sales. The Pearl River County Sheriff’s Deputies alone have responded to ninety-five alcohol related incidents from Jan-May 2006. Thirty-eight percent of traffic deaths in Mississippi during 2004 were alcohol related. Underage drinking contributes an estimated 23 billion yearly to the alcohol industry and 96.9 percent of alcohol drinkers involved in alcohol abuse and dependence began drinking prior to the age of 21 years. Alcohol usage increases risks to health and is an equal opportunity trouble maker leading to highway deaths, drownings, suicides, violent injury, homicide, burns, unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, including AIDS. Do we want to increase our woes?

As far back as the last legalization attempt, proponents have tried to tout the increase in tax revenue that legalization would bring to our county, some of which could go to schools. The negative aspects of legalizing liquor, beer and wine will wipe out the gains in tax revenue. The State and County will likely end up losing money on alcohol prevention programs and other social welfare programs that become necessary in our county if liquor sales are legalized. Mississippi is still in the bottom 5% in the nation in education and any misperceived gain in tax revenue from alcohol sales will not in and of itself change that status.

American culture, to include Pearl River County, is in a downward spiral regarding morality issues. As concerned citizens and Christians we have the moral responsibility and duty to stand against those things, which will destroy families and result in increased crime. CAT asks that you take a stand against legalized alcohol in our beloved county. Legalized alcohol usage will not solve any problems that exist but will create a multitude of new ones. Is it worth taking a stand for Pearl River County? Do you want liquor to flow freely in our county? Do you want the nightclubs and strip joints/dance clubs, which will follow the legalization of alcohol? If not, then refuse to sign petitions for the legalization of sales of wine, beer, and alcohol currently being circulated in Pearl River County. If the issue ever gets to a vote, then vote no. Watch out for further information about community rallies and counter petitions regarding this important issue for the future of our county.

A meeting of layman and ministers interested in participating in the efforts of CAT of Pearl River County will be held on Tuesday, July 25th at 9:00 a.m. at the Lee Conference Center of the Pearl River Baptist Association, 1376 McNeill-Steep Hollow Road. Your attendance and participation is invited as concerned citizens.

CAT of Pearl River County

Benjamin S. Harrison, Secretary