Mixed emotions over mixed drink vote - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mixed emotions over mixed drink vote

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June 19, 2007

Ashburn -- Ashburn voters began casting their ballots at 7 o'clock Tuesday morning that would determine if mixed drinks could hit the menus of local restaurants within city limits.

The clock strikes noon in downtown Ashburn. The county seat of Turner County has some of its residents at odds over a vote today that if passed, would allow the city to serve liquor by the drink. A proposal that could potentially bring more revenue to the city.

" I think that the thinking is that it would improve our sales tax a little bit," says city clerk Sandy Lumpkin

Ashburn voters on both sides of the issue casting their ballots inside the former city hall.

Some voters were in favor.

"It would help the revenues. Maybe bring some more jobs to Turner County. I think it's a good thing. I'm for it all the way," says Ashburn voter Tommy Bateman.

Some voters were opposed.

Billie Stone says, "I voted no. I'm a Christian and I feel that we don't need it (liquor) in Ashburn."

The debate over bringing liquor by the drink to the city of Ashburn is split between economics and ethics.

"There has been some concern. Of course some churches are opposing the referendum," adds Lumpkin.

But supporters of liquor by the drink, like La Hacienda Mexican restaurant in downtown Ashburn, would be able to serve mixed drinks if the vote is passed.

Some city leaders see a vote yes as an invitation to new businesses, creating new jobs while building revenue.

Ashburn City Council member Artie Eld explained, "This will help our tax base tremendously. Three percent tax on every drink would bring in a lot of money."

A voter turn out of 300 predicted, it is up in the air as to what the result will be. With concerns by some that the bringing liquor inside the city limits would be harmful to the community, city councilman Artie Eld quotes a former president.

"Roosevelt said a thing once, the only thing people have to fear is fear itself. Everyone seems to think that if you have liquor in restaurants, people are going to be getting drunk and causing accidents. I don't see that happening."

If the liquor by the drink vote passes in Ashburn, it will stand, but would not go into immediate effect.

No specific date would be set until the city council approved specific regulations, ordinances, and fees.

Whether it's Yes or No, the final vote will be cast 7 PM, Tuesday night.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=AshburnVote/CF