Wet/Dry alcohol debate brewing in Greene County

GREENE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Forget republican or democrat, Obama or Romney. The election battle brewing in Greene County is over alcohol. In less than two weeks, Greene County's 8,000 voters decide whether to legalize the sale of beer and light wine.

The wet or dry debate has citizens divided.

"In our county it is illegal to sell, consume, or transport alcohol," David Breland said.

Residents David Breland and William Pierce want the 40-year-old law to end, and they've started a new campaign called "Free Greene County."

"We are advocating for responsible adults to act like responsible adults and be given the freedom to choose for themselves," Breland said.

"There is alcohol all around us, and we feel like if you want it you should be able to buy it," Pierce said.

Piggly Wiggly's Manger Richard Hale said the county and local businesses lose money since they can't sell beer and wine.

"I live outside this area, and I see a lot of people from here traveling to where I live and they are buying alcohol, beer, wine or whatever. Not only are they buying that, they are filling up with gas and they are buying cigarettes. So no doubt about it, it's going to bring extra revenue to this area," Hale said.

"We are so small in our residents and in our population that the type of revenue it would bring would be so small, it would be negligible," Pastor Billy Dowdy said.

Some local pastors believe the only things beer and wine will attract are bigger headaches for the county.

"It has never been a good thing for families. It has always been something that controls a person and gets out of control," Dowdy said.

The religious leaders also feel the more available alcohol is in a community, the more traffic deaths and DUIs will come to the community.

"It really destroys lives, and it is the number one abused drug in America," Holcomb said.

Both groups hope by spreading their message on the wet-dry debate they can convince enough folks to vote their way on Election Day.

The Free Greene County team said it had to collect at least 2,000 signatures to get this alcohol issue put on the ballot.  A simple majority has to vote yes, which is 50 percent plus one, for the referendum to pass.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.