Tuesday voters in southern young county will be voting over whether or not to allow alcohol sales of beer and wine. The vote takes place in Young County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1, that includes both Graham and South Bend.
The city of Graham believes a 2012 vote that failed to legalize alcohol gives the city a dry status. Graham City manager David Casteel said that according to the Graham City Attorney the city might be able to keep alcohol from being sold even if the alcohol sales are approved in the precinct.
"If there had been a previous vote in the city and a larger area said they were for then the city vote might still rule," said Casteel.
However, the secretary of state office referred us to their website which lays out how local option alcohol elections work.
It reads "An unsuccessful legalization election has no effect on the status of the county, justice precinct, or city, as applicable, in which the election was held. A city or justice precinct, which has adopted no status of its own regarding the legalizing of alcoholic beverages takes on the status of its surrounding territory. For example, if a city rejects a legalization proposition and the surrounding justice precinct later approves a legalization proposed, the sale of alcoholic beverages as set out in the proposition will be legalized within the city as well as all other parts of the justice precinct which had no prior local option status. The failure of a proposition to legalize the sale of alcoholic beverages has no prohibitory effect."
Young County Judge John Bullock said that the county is unable to force the city of Graham to hand out the proper licenses should beer and wine sales become allowed within YCJOPP1.
""We can't and neither would we try to that is strictly going to be an issue of the corporate limits of the city of Graham," said Bullock.
Casteel said it would be a waist of city time and money to fight the issue. Instead, Graham city leaders said they have no plans to take any legal action prior to the election.
Pastor Joe Finfrock is one of those against allowing alcohol sales within his community. Finfrock and
others like him believe that local youth will be the most affected should alcohol sales be approved.
"It's common sense that when alcohol is in your neighborhood when alcohol is in your community, it's going to affect your community,"said Finfrock.
In talking with some of the local youth, many of them feel the same way. Some have family who has abused drinking in the past, others believe that keeping alcohol out of town and it out of sight helps keep it out of mind. Though one of the teens did admit that alcohol is still accessible, whether it's bought in town or not.
"I don't know, but if you looked in the early 1980's we were number one for DWI when it was dry," said Graham Police Chief Tony Widner.
The numbers show that alcohol related crimes go both up and down when alcohol sales are allowed. Iowa Park saw a decrease in 2012 to 2013 of both DUI and DWI numbers, however public intoxication numbers showed an increase.
"I don't think you can really judge one community versus another. They are indicators, but I don't think anybody on either side of this argument can bank on numbers," said Widner.
Graham residents have to drive between 10 to 15 miles to get alcohol. Mike Elmore, who helped lead the 2012 election, would like to make the alcohol purchases available in YCJOPP1. In 2012 voters were choosing whether or not to legalize beer, wine, and liquor.
"You respect that you listen to your people, so we've taken that out. It is strictly beer and wine in our grocery and convenient stores," said Elmore.
Many of the others who support allowing alcohol sales include business owners, parents and those who simply see the current alcohol laws as unfair. One woman said she thinks it's unfair and unsafe to only allow purchases of alcohol at bars and clubs instead of allowing a person to bring their alcohol home in a closed container.
In the end, Elmore and his supporters have this to say.
"Let's lower our DWI rate lets keep our money in our town and let's let our parents be parents" said Elmore.
Finfrock echoed his stance on the issue of alcohol.
"We are not raging people against alcohol we just don't want it sold in our community," said Finfrock.
Tuesday voters in YCJOPP1 will decide if they want to become a wet precinct, or remain part of a dry county.