Debate over liquor sales, possession goes before Stone County voters

Debate over liquor sales, possession goes before Stone County voters

STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The debate over liquor sales and possession will go up before Stone County voters on Tuesday and not everyone is in favor of the referendum.

Jeff and Sherri Gill were born and raised in Stone County and they want their three grandchildren to grow up in the family-friendly community. They don't believe alcohol belongs in the county.

"We're against it. Our children were raised in a quiet, small community and church and I believe it would bring in more crime. It would do more harm. It's going to have more DUI, possibly bars and things like that," said Sherri Gill.

Although Stone County is dry, the city of Wiggins does allow the sale of light wine and beer.

According to the county attorney, if passed, Tuesday's referendum would allow businesses in Wiggins to also sell liquor and wine that contains more than 5 percent alcohol. It would also allow residents in the county to have alcoholic beverages.

Many customers who spoke with WLOX News say the move will generate more jobs and revenue.

"I think it'll help the businesses because up here, without the ability to sell alcohol, you restrict the commercial development of restaurants," said Wiggins Resident Gerry Besse.

Many people say those who want to drink already drive to Harrison County to purchase alcohol.

"It'll be good for the county. It'll be good for the economy. A lot of people, myself, we drive down to the coast to get wine and what not, and that's gas money, that's other money getting spent on the coast," said restaurant manager Keith Culpepper. "I think it'll be good to see the place grow a little bit too."

"It's a good thing. We should vote for it. We should keep our tax dollars right where we live. Spend the money here. Help Wiggins get built up, take care of the roads and schools," said Linda Rayburn of Stone County.

Those who oppose the proposal say there are other ways to help the community thrive.

"The community has been going just fine for all these years, and I believe there's more ways than just bringing alcohol in to help," added Gill.

A citizen's group petitioned to put the issue on the Nov. 3 ballot.

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