By David Howell
and Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – Following several months of intense politicking, Yalobushians voted soundly to make beer and light wine legal in the county – the first time since 1937.
The vote carried 2,915 to 1,474, with 42 percent of the county’s registered voters participating, according to Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney. These numbers are unofficial pending certification of the election which is expected to occur Thursday. Less than 30 affidavit ballots remain uncounted at presstime Tuesday night.
“Everything ran extremely smooth,” Election Commissioner Chairman Bob Chandler reported as the last of 11 precinct’s total was displayed on a projector screen in front of a packed courtroom.
Just an hour-and-a-half after the polls closed at 7 p.m., the final numbers were displayed and the crowd slowly dwindled.
“I think it is a referendum,” said Matthew Johnson, “It sends a big message.”
Johnson, president of Fat Possum Records, said he was the first person to give money to the Yalobusha Progressive Association.
Following Thursday’s election certification, the possession, transporting and consumption of beer and light wine will be legal. Actual sales by retailers will not begin until a state licensing process is completed. Restaurants offering beer for consumption, also must go through a strict licensing.
State Tax Commission spokesperson Kathy Waterbury reported that the licensing process for retailers takes approximately 30 days. Initially beer and light wine sales will fall under state guidelines until local regulations are adopted by city and county officials.
Supervisor Tommy Vaughn, who was at the courthouse Tuesday night while the votes were counted, said he expected county officials to move promptly on this matter.
“When it is sold in Yalobusha County, I would like to see it sold hot in stores and cold in restaurants,” Vaughn said, although adding that this was his personal opinion and not necessarily the boards’. Vaughn also added that he would like to see Sunday beer sales prohibited.
In 10 of the 11 precincts scattered across the county, voters were in favor of legalizing beer. The widest range of margin was in Beat Two Water Valley at the Courthouse, with 76 percent of the voters in favor of the proposition. The lone precinct where voters did not favor beer and light wine legalization was in Beat Five – Tillatoba. Fifty-three percent of the precinct’s 141 voters voted against beer.