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March 19, 2014

Board OKs referendum for Sunday alcohol sales

CAIRO — Voters in Grady County will get to decide if they want Sunday alcohol sales.

During its meeting Tuesday night, the Grady County Commission voted 3-2 to put the issue on the November ballot. The decision doesn’t enjoy the support of the Grady County Baptist Association.

The Rev. John Paul Hasick, the associational missionary for the Grady County Baptist Association implored the commissioners to approve a referendum.

He said, “I’m the son of an alcoholic father and many Sunday nights the police came to our house to arrest him. In Grady County, 6 days out of the week, people can buy alcohol. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why we would bring it to a vote.”

Hasick explained the issue exemplified no restraints for the citizens.

“Seems to me, we are telling people they have no restraints by giving them the opportunity to sell alcohol on Sunday just as if it were any other day,” said Hasick.

Jake Bailey, also representing the side of the Grady County Baptist Association, echoed Hasick’s sentiments.

He asked the commissioners, “How much good will it do?”

After hearing from the Grady County Baptist Association, the commissioners addressed the issue.

Commissioner Billy Poitevint opened the discussion and said, “I got something I’d like to say. I wasn’t an alcoholic, but just a drunk. I didn’t attend any meetings. In April of 1967, the Lord saved me and I gave up the alcohol. Let me just say, I never had a problem buying enough alcohol on Saturday to carry me over to Sunday.

“As I told (referendum supporter) Mr. (John) Monds on the phone, I’m not in favor of it it. He has the right to bring this to the board and, as a citizen, I have the right to not agree with it. I will vote against it tonight. Sunday is the Lord’s Day and I think you ought to refrain from buying alcohol on Sunday if you drink it.”

Commissioner Charlie Norton had a slightly different view. Like Poitevint, he used to drink. He also explained that the Bible says people are not supposed to work on Sundays, but after church people gather in restaurants and support people who have to work on Sundays. He does not agree with that, either.

“I do believe that the lives that have been lost serving this country give us rights, and voting is one of our rights of freedom. I may be wrong, but I think we made our call in the polls and I am against alcohol sales on Sunday. I represent the people. Give people the right to vote,” said Norton.

He encouraged opponents to campaign against Sunday alcohol sales.

He said, “You may not like this, but I represent all the people.”

Commissioner Lafaye Copeland is in favor of letting the voters decide. She claimed it is everyone’s right to decide and she cannot decide for them.

She said, “I’m sorry if you don’t agree with me. Times are changing. It’s the 21s century and people are not thinking that way. Don’t take what I say personally. Just because I’m voting to let the people decide doesn’t mean I support alcohol sales on Sunday.”

Chairman T.D. David felt he was led to let the voters decide and is in favor of giving people a choice.

He said, “And as soon as I can find the ‘no’ block on the ballot in November, I’m going to fill it.”

Commission Elwyn Childs felt torn. He had struggled with his decision for a while and hoped the board would understand if he did not agree with them.

“My daddy, brother and uncle were ministers and were against alcohol and, like them, I am, too,” he said. “I got to sleep at night. It puts you in a bad position. It’s a decision I’ll have to live with and I hope you all will understand.

“I hope the way I vote is my true feelings and the board will understand if I don’t agree with them.”

Monds was happy to see the commissioners give the people the opportunity to vote on the matter.

He said, “Small issues like this mean a lot to people because they get to exercise their rights. I was glad to see that even though some of the commissioners didn’t agree with the issue personally, they allowed the citizens to make a decision.

“We can’t have a free country without free people.”



 

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