Poplarville voters decide to turn the dry city wet

POPLARVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Seventy percent of voters in Poplarville want the city to allow for beer and wine sales. According to a referendum passed Tuesday, wine can not have an alcohol content of more than five percent and beer is limited to eight percent.

The final vote count shows 361 votes for the measure and 149 against.

Poplarville has been dry since the town was created in 1886. Mayor Brad Necaise said this is the first time in more than 30 years that this issue has been voted on in Poplarville.

A similar referendum passed in Picayune in May of 2011. However, Pearl River County is still a dry county.

The landslide vote opens the doors to beer and light wine sales in grocery, convenience and general stores. Restaurants will also be able to profit from the sale of the adult beverages.

"I'm going to buy some beer and I'm going to sell it," said Chemin Pitre, Owner of Scooters Restaurant.

Scooters is a New Orleans style po-boy restaurant located in the heart of downtown Poplarville. Pitre said passage of the referendum means the city can recapture money its been losing for years.

"I think a lot of people drive to Picayune, they drive to Pearl River, Louisiana, they drive to Bogalusa and spend their money and they spend their taxes there. People buy it, they drive back here. It would be beneficial for our little town for the money to be spent here because they are going to spend it anyway and they are going to drink anyway," explained Pitre.

Poplarville Resident Mark Ambrose said, "People who aren't drunk get into accidents. No good restaurants, no good hotels, nothing is going to move into Poplarville without liquor."

The President of the North Pearl River County Ministerial Alliance disagrees with Ambrose.

"A lot of people are saying it's just an absolute must for the economy, but we were praying that the Lord would send some industry, some other positive business things to give us more jobs. I think that would generate more income than the sale of beer and light wine," said Alliance President Tommy Anthony.

He said now that the measure has passed, he'd like to see the community work together to create the rules to implement the change.

"We really are concerned that our community not get divided over this issue," Anthony said.

Poplarville Mayor Brad Necaise said beer and wine sales won't happen over night. Non-retail establishments must apply for and secure licenses to sale alcohol. And the city will have to draft ordinances governing beer and wine sales.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.