Houston voters to decide fate of alcohol ordinances

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HOUSTON, Miss. (WCBI) – Voters in Houston will soon decide whether stores and restaurants can sell alcohol in the city limits.

Recently, a group called “Houston Forward” collected enough signatures to call for elections for both beer and light wine sales and sales of wine and spirits.

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It is lunchtime and the Dixie Diner is open for business, once again.

Mike Colbert has lived in Houston for decades and remembered when the Dixie Diner drew big crowds. He is hoping to breathe new life back into the Diner, and downtown.

In fact, Colbert is also developing a boutique hotel right around the corner.

He said being able to sell alcohol would have a big impact on his businesses and the entire area and that’s why he will support the ordinances.

“It will definitely bring more people into town, they will spend more money, they will be able to open new shops here,  I know if I want to keep more young people coming to this town, we have got to cater to them some to get them back here,” said Colbert.

Sean Johnson is director of the Chickasaw Development Foundation and founder of a group called “Houston Forward.” That organization was behind the petition drive to get the alcohol vote on the ballot.

Johnson said the proposals are strict, for example, only restaurants with professional kitchens, that generate more than half of their revenue from food sales can sell alcohol.

Also, alcohol will not be sold after 10:30 p.m. at restaurants or stores, no exterior advertising for alcohol will be allowed and no alcohol will be sold on Sundays.

“Because we are dry we are losing at least a million dollars a year in sales, retail beer, restaurant sector, losing 1.2 million dollars a year so this is something we need to do if we want to move forward as a community,” said Johnson.

But not everyone is on board. Dr Randy Rinehart is pastor of Parkway Baptist Church.  He is encouraging his congregation to vote against the proposals.

He said the costs will outweigh any benefits.

“The other expenses would be treatments that would have to be there for alcohol as well as for more law enforcement,  alcohol destroys lives, both directly through people partaking of alcohol, I’ve sat with families whose children have been killed by drunk drivers, whose children have overdosed on alcohol, drank too much and it suppressed them so that it killed them,” said Dr. Rinehart.

Voters will soon decide the issue.

The special election takes place at City Hall, and you must be a registered voter in Houston to cast a ballot. The vote is set for June 27.

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