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Henderson alcohol election spurs opponents, supporters

By Angela Ward
Oct. 19, 2011 at 11 p.m.

If there's one thing both sides of the upcoming alcohol referendum in Henderson agree on, it's that the issue inspires strong emotions.

Supporters and opponents of the two propositions have been placing signs and billboards throughout the community and have sent letters outlining their positions on the issue.

Two separate proposals will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. One would allow the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption, which would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell beer and wine, but would not permit packaged liquor sales. The second would allow the sale of mixed beverages in restaurants by food and beverage certificate holders, which would permit restaurants to serve mixed drinks without a club license.

"We're concentrating on the same issues we have been from the beginning," said Weldon Gray of the Henderson First Committee, which favors the proposals. "We believe there will be a very positive economic impact if we pass these referendums."

Henderson residents will keep more of their money in the community, rather than going to nearby cities to purchase beer and wine, if the first referendum passes, Gray said.

And his committee argues the second referendum would encourage more national chain restaurants to open locations within the city.

The Rev. Bill Gardner, pastor of Southside Baptist Church, is the leader of the Keep Henderson Dry Committee which opposes the referendum.

"We believe the costs - in both the financial and the emotional sense - would outweigh the benefits of these proposals," Gardner said. "We're encouraging people to give a lot of thought to what kind of community they want this to be."

Gardner's group also believes that, because Henderson is a relatively small town, most national chain restaurants won't open locations there regardless of its laws regarding alcohol.

There are no public forums planned to debate the issue. Early voting for the Nov. 8 election begins Monday.



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