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Dec. 6, 2007

Support Of Legalization Is A Moral Position 


Dear Editor,

    I was raised in a religion that discouraged alcohol, and as an adult, I haven’t chosen to make alcohol a regular part of my life.  So I have watched this debate about legalizing beer with some detachment, since the issue won’t affect my own life very much either way.

    Many of the letters to editor haven’t focused on the central issue, as far as I can see.  Alcohol is already legal here, in much more concentrated levels than beer, so statistics about the damaging affects of alcohol don’t seem relevant to me.  Underage drinking is illegal, whether hard liquor or beer, so suggesting that legalizing beer will put young people at risk also seems questionable.  

    I support legalizing beer in Yalobusha County because, for me, it is fundamentally a moral issue.  I come from a religious tradition that values free will as essential to the development of conscience; only through the freedom to make choices can we grow into the moral beings God intends us to become.  Our role as religious people is to exhort, encourage, persuade, and love, but never to coerce.  The law banning beer is a relic from the past, when small groups of people misguidedly thought they had the right to act as moral arbiters for their fellow brothers and sisters.  I support the right of all citizens of Yalobusha County to voice their moral opinions concerning alcohol, but I absolutely refuse their right to coerce others into conforming to their own religious beliefs.  The move to coercion is contrary to the fundamental principles of religious life, and no matter how noble the motives of participants are to protect their brothers and sisters from harm, it doesn’t change how wrong that impulse to coerce is.

    Supporting the legalization of beer is a moral position, and one I hope the residents of Yalobusha County will adopt.

Jaime Harker
200 Clay Street
Water Valley



Restaurant Owner Believes Adding Beer Sales Only A Formality


Letter to the Editor,
  I live and work in Oxford, so I have no dog in this hunt. I was asked to write this because I am a restaurant owner in Oxford.
    It seems to me that adding beer sales to a wet  county should only be a formality. Beer is a form of alcohol, only with less alcohol in it. Less than half as much as wine, less than 1/15th of whiskey.
     In my restaurants beer is less than eight percent of my sales. I sell beer because I am a full service restaurant. I would never open a restaurant in a dry county, and I have been to very few places where anyone else would. I like to provide my customers with options. I think dry counties patronize their citizens. It takes away the decision making process from adults. From a business stand point, I think restaurants add to the quality of life in a town, and I think good restaurants are a major factor in a towns growth and prosperity, just look at Oxford and Rankin County.
     Like I mentioned before, I have no stake in the outcome of the Water Valley beer vote. I will be glad to keep serving my fine customers from Water Valley in the future.


 Randy Yates
Ajax Diner
Volta Taverna



 Responsible People Who Drink Act Responsibly


    I have watched this debate over the sale of beer for a while now and every week, I am amazed at the different comments that are made. All have some merit to them for both sides. I respect both sides for their commitment to their opinion of what they consider right and moral. I think both sides have their pros and cons about them but as individuals and voters, each and every person has to make their own decision as to what is moral in their life and their family’s life. One side telling the other that they should or shouldn’t do something because their side believes its wrong is in my opinion, infringing on the other’s right to their belief’s. Our whole country today is turned upside down because one belief is trying to make the other conform to it’s belief. I was raised in this town and in my youth and growing up here, I always thought this was one of the best place’s in the world to grow up.
    We pledged allegiance to the flag every morning before class, we could say our prayers and talk about God in school without getting in trouble and could count on our parents to help us out if we had a problem, no matter what the problem was. And when all else failed, our parents would tell us, remember the Ten Commandments, one being, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    Now, in saying this, I don’t mean this was a cure all. I had two of the best and most respected parents that lived here. I am saying this because I know what they did for me and a lot of other people here and what I have been told by their friends so I know this to be fact. The myth here is that, just because I was afforded every thing I ever needed and most of what I ever wanted, doesn’t mean that I turned out that way.
    At 17, I was arrested, at 18, I was in jail, and at 20, I was a drug addict. You would think I would have known better since I lost a sister to drugs before I became a drug addict but I didn’t. It wasn’t that my parents didn’t do their best because they did everything anyone could possibly do to stop it but nothing worked.
    I lost the first 12 years of being with my first son because of it and even that wasn’t enough to make me quit. And let me just say that, I tried drinking first and hated it. I smoked pot and that is how I started, not drinking. June, 1985, it all came to a head when I overdosed on cocaine. I woke up on a stretcher fixing to be loaded into an ambulance and decided that, it wasn’t a hospital I needed but a good soul searching. I made them let me up and leave and I sat down with myself and when the morning came, I had made up my mind, God, my parents, and a lot of very important people here in Water Valley wanted more from me than to die being stupid.
    Since June, 1985, I have been a recovering drug addict and always will be. My point is, drugs are not legal here nor will they ever be but that didn’t stop me nor will it stop anyone else who chooses to do them. The same goes for beer or liquor. FACT!!! If people want to drink, they are going to drink. FACT!!! I know there are a lot of people here that like to have a drink from time to time and that is and should be their choice. Responsible people that drink are going to do so responsibly and the ones that do it to get drunk, are going to get drunk. FACT!!! Keeping beer out of Yaloubusha county is not going to stop the people that drink, either lightly or heavily from drinking.  I don‚t have statistic‚s to back this up nor do I believe in many of them because any number can be arranged to fit the user‚s needs. I live in the real world and this is just the way it is. Now I am not saying that I want to see juke joints all over. I DON”T!!! I don’t think that would be good for the image we want to portray to people wanting to move here.I think it should be regulated and controlled but I believe any money that it could bring to our city and county would be a help. And in my opinion, we could use some help!
    I was raised in the church and I consider myself to have Christian beliefs. For a long time, I didn’t live that way, but I was raised that way. Since my overdose, I have tried to go back to the roots that I was raised with. I say my prayers almost every night. I try and live my life now the way God would have me do. I admit, sometimes its hard but I never let go of what I believe in now and that is what gets me through the tough times. Now it seams that I am being told that, if I decide to drink a beer or take a drink, I am going to Hell. If this is really the case, I am going to have a lot of company because that would mean, everyone who takes a drink or drinks is going to be joining me. That‚s a scary thought. And just for your information, I am for making it legal, I do have a beer from time to time and have had the same bottle of rum in my cabinet for a few weeks now and still have plenty left. I use to drink a lot but have chosen to cut way back, not because it was legal or not but by choice. I AM responsible for my actions and I accept that responsibility. If I can do it, anyone can!!!
    Lastly, I have been talking to people who don‚t even live here that are watching this also and they ask me, what in the world is going on there with this beer petition. Based on that, I would assume that, people thinking of moving here would think, boy, I really don‚t want to move into that war. What a divided town. Makes me feel like I am living in the movie “Footloose”. If we want more people and more industry to move here, we need to at least get on the same page. United we stand, divided, we fall!!!!
    This is just my opinion. God Bless all.
     Kind Regards,
    Johnny Holloway                                                                                             
    1171 Hwy 315-Water Valley



The Truth Lies Somewhere In Between The Two Extremes


 Dear Editor,
  I am writing in opposition to the approval of beer in Yalobusha County. I have been very surprised at the intensity of feeling on both sides of this issue. I do not agree that without the sale of beer in our community we are all “doomed”. Yet neither do I agree that anyone who votes in favor of the petition should be seen as the anti-christ. As with most issues, the truth probably lies somewhere in between these two extremes.
  I will be voting against the approval of beer in our community for basically two reasons, neither of which has to do with the fact that I am pastor of one of our local baptist churches. I am against the petition first of all as a Christian who has sat by and watched too many of our Christian values pushed out of the public arena. It was supposably “progressive” to take prayer out of school, and the Christian people offered no real opposition to it and we can all see how great that worked out. It was supposably “progressive” when prayer was banned from our Water Valley football games while many other local schools still have it, and once again there was no out cry from our Christian community. We just sat there and were told to keep our Christian views to ourselves. Most everyone with any sense at all can see that our country is heading in the wrong direction morally, and guess why, because the Christians refuse to take a stand against anything. Even Christmas is now under attack. We are told that it is “progressive” to not use the word “Christmas” and instead replace it with “holiday”. Once again, Christians whisper among themselves how crazy this is, but few speak out against it, they just put up their “holiday tree” in silence. Well, I am one Christian who has backed down to society all I intend to, and my way of drawing the line in the sand against the “progressive” ideas that seek to little by little turn our country into a non-Christian society is to vote no and stand against everything I can that does not promote a godly society for me and my family to live in.
  The second reason I will be voting against the petition is because I am a daddy, and as such I am called to set the proper example. Children and youth reason differently than adults do. I can see someone voting in favor of the petition and realize that person may simply be voting in favor of a person’s right to choose. However children and youth would see it as an endorsement of beer. When my little five year old girl gets older and is faced with the decision to drink beer or not, I do not want her thinking, “Well beer can’t be bad for me, daddy even voted for it”. As a father I am given the responsibility to do all I can to set the proper example for my child, what I want to think or desire, comes in a very distant second to my main priority of setting a good example for my little girl.
  The old saying is true, “What one generation tolerates, the next will embrace”.
  In HIS Service,
  /s/Daniel Dickerson
  Rev. Daniel Dickerson
  Pastor, O’Tuckolofa Baptist




Progressives, Former Mayor Share Some Common Ground


To the Editor:
    It’s clear from Mr. Hart’s ad in last week’s Herald that he and the Yalobusha Progressive Association have common ground. Both agree that the sale of beer will bring revenue into the county.
    The modest amount from sales tax that just the city of Water Valley would receive, according to former-Mayor Hart, is over $22,000. That’s nearly enough for a new full-time police officer.
    But will a new officer be necessary? With beer legalized, the dozen or more arrests each month for “possession of beer in a dry county” would no longer be wasting the time and resources of the police and court systems. With hard liquor already legal for the past 40 years, the police seem to be adequately handling other alcohol-related matters.
    One item that Mr. Hart overlooked in his analysis of the economic benefit of beer to this county was the county inventory tax. That inventory tax is levied annually on 15% of a business’s inventory. According to Tax Assessor Shuffield, 100% of those revenues stay in the county. Not one penny goes to the state capitol.
    Nor did Mr. Hart mention the new jobs that will be generated in the retail sector when beer is legalized. No discussion in his analysis of the resurgence of business investment in, for example, restaurants. No mention of the increased property tax revenue that will come with new investment.
    And nothing in his letter talked about all those dollars that get spent (food, gas, clothing, hardware, etc.) when a family shops in Oxford because they can’t get one simple item they want—that’s beer—here in Yalobusha County.
    Mr. Hart’s letter also stated that “If beer is legalized in Yalobusha County, it is likely that additional city and county services would be required.”
    Now, that statement is absolutely correct. People from overbuilt Lafayette County will start moving to this county. Hunters and fishermen and tourists will end their traditional avoidance of this county (in favor of other counties where they can have a Corona with their tacos at the Mexican restaurant, instead of a bourbon).                       
    New businesses that are now finding homes in every other part of Northern Mississippi, except Yalobusha County, will take a fresh look our county as a reasonable place to relocate their employees and conduct business in the 21st century. The demand for the full spectrum of county and city services will indeed increase, as will the revenue to pay for them. That, Mr. Hart, is called “growth.”
Matthew Johnson
904 Main St.
Water Valley




View Of Both Sides Gives Writer Insight Into Alcohol Issue 


Dear Betty,
  Being a native of Water Valley, having many friends and a sister that live there, I am vitally interested in the beer issue.
  Ed was a friend of mine whom I respected greatly, as I did his father. I knew him all of his life. What a tragedy he was taken from us so early. I look forward to seeing him in heaven. Wonder how Ed would have seen the beer issue?
  As for me, I have been on both sides of the issue. I was in my twenties when I was sure that beer and liquor should be legalized, for I partook liberally of both, as did most of my friends. That all changed one summer night in 1955. After a night of drinking with two of my friends, we had a wreck in Coffeeville. The car rolled several times and I was thrown out, landing 65 feet from the car. Fortunately, I landed in the sandy ditch and wasn’t seriously injured. The other two guys were not thrown out and their injuries were slight. After Dr. Evans sewed me up, I went home. The driver of the car had problems with alcohol for the rest of his life. He died with cancer while still in his 20s.
  The next day, God dealt with me ever so severely. I continue to thank Him for sparing my life. By 1960, I was married to my wonderful wife, Rose, and we both vowed that alcohol would never be a part of our lives. I have not had even so much as a glass of wine since that time. It is amazing that which I once loved, I now detest.
  Bravo for Pastor Randy Bain and deacons of First Baptist Church! You all have fought the good fight and I am so proud of you and others there who have taken the stand that you have. It was there that I was saved and baptized.
  One of my greatest regrets is that I not only drank myself, but I encouraged many of my friends to do likewise. Some of those had to battle alcohol all of their lives. I pray they have forgiven me.
  Incidentally, I live in Pontotoc, one of the most progressive towns in northeast Mississippi. City and county schools are ranked among the best in the state year after year, and our city and county are “bone dry”. No legal beer or liquor is sold. That is one of the reasons that we chose to raise our two boys here. You can ask me about my grandchildren. I am a proud granddaddy. I could go on and on but you get the picture. I ask you to search your soul and answer this question. Is it ever right in any situation to vote to legalize a drug as potent and addictive as alcohol is? I love Water Valley and pray that it will always remain dry.
/s/Ralph Mitchell
  214 South Liberty Street
  Pontotoc, MS

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