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Tatum voters to decide alcohol proposal

By Mike Elswick melswick@news-journal.com
Feb. 3, 2013 at 11 p.m.


TATUM - City Secretary Shelly Williams said she has heard of no organized efforts either way to sway voters in the city election to consider the sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption.

"I've heard some comments on both sides, but nothing organized," Williams said. The election is set for May 11, when three of the city's aldermen positions also will be on the ballot, she said.

"Those for it say residents are driving to Longview now, and if we have sales (of alcohol) here it should be safer because they won't be driving back and forth," Williams said. "It will also help the city out as far as sales taxes go."

She said she did not have any idea what kind of boost city hall might see from increased revenues.

First Baptist Church of Tatum Pastor Trey Robertson said he also was not aware of any organized effort for or against the proposal. He said he is recommending residents vote against it.

"My vote would be no," he said. "It's not just a Biblical or moral issue - I just don't see the need for a big push for it."

Robertson said in the 12 years he has been pastor at First Baptist he is only aware of pain caused by alcohol consumption.

"There have been a lot of families around here affected and hurt," he said. "All the news you hear related to alcohol has been bad from things like accidents and deaths."

Robertson said on top of those reasons for urging a no vote on the beer and wine sales proposition, he said a majority of Tatum-area residents likely drive through town where alcoholic beverage sales are allowed on a regular basis.

"They drive through Lakeport, Henderson and Longview - it just would not do much by approving it," he said.

John Cox, manager of B&B Foods at 415 N. Hill St., said he had no idea of what passage of the proposition would mean for his business.

"But it's going to be good for business and good for Tatum," Cox said Wednesday. "If it's approved we'll go through the permitting process" with the Texas Alcohol Control Board.

Cox sees the proposal to allow the sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption as good for the community and for its residents who may be driving elsewhere when they want to purchase those alcoholic beverages.

Williams said the Tatum City Council called the local option election during its Dec. 10 meeting. It was required to call the election under state law after Dallas-area consultant Ron Perdue turned in enough signatures to meet election requirements.

"We're such a small city that they only needed 19 signatures to get it on the ballot," she said. The petition had 50 signatures, and 48 of those were certified as being qualified voters.

Tatum straddles the Rusk and Panola county lines, and although there are no businesses inside the Panola County side of the city, the election paves the way to allow beer and wine sales in the future, Williams said. That would make that small part of Panola County the first and only part of the county where alcohol sales are allowed.

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