Russellville legalizes alcohol sales
The real swing in the ballot came in District 4 where 248 people voted in favor of legalizing alcohol sales and 90 voted against it.
In District 1, 393 voted in favor of alcohol sales, while 502 voted against it; in District 2, 293 voted in favor and 215 against it; in District 3, 198 voted in favor and 248 were opposed; and in District 5, 270 voted for it and 231 were opposed.
“It’s disappointing,” said Dr. Wade Wallace, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.
“We did what we were supposed to do in fighting this. Sometimes evil prevails. I think we can rest our heads at night knowing that we did what we should. The Bible says that sin is fun for a season.
Wallace and several other community members organized the Franklin County Vote Dry Political Action Committee in September and had worked to defeat the measure.
“A lot of people worked hard and we really appreciate their efforts,” Wallace said.
“All we can do now is pray for our city because there’s a lot of work to be done. This won’t be what people think it’s going to be.”
Sachin Bhagat, manager of America’s Best Value Inn and Suites on Highway 43 in Russellville, said he believes the people’s vote will allow the city to move in a new direction.
“From what I have seen, there is a divide in the community where the older generations stayed here to work but the younger generations are having to move for jobs,” he said.
“This is progress where we can attract industries and jobs and unite the family again.”
James Webb, who is vice-president of Webb Oil Company in Russellville, helped organize the Committee for Economic Growth and worked to pass the sale of alcohol in the city.
“I would like to get everyone together now and let’s work together,” he said.
“There are things the city will have to do to put ordinances in places and I think we all need to work together on that.”
City officials must now begin looking at putting ordinances in places to control where it’s sold, when it’s sold and laws regarding such things as open containers.
“This wasn’t an issue for the council to decide,” said Councilman Jeff Masterson.
“However, now that the voters have spoken, we need to act quickly to pass a sign and alcohol ordinance to ensure the residents of Russellville that this will be carried out in a way that will minimize the negatives that often come with legalizing the sale of alcohol. I have all the confidence in the world in our police chief and my elected colleagues that we will vote to control this in a way it can be beneficial for the city.”
Mayor Troy Oliver said the city would be in contact with neighboring cities and the ABC board to look at laws in place in other areas.
“We have looked at the ordinances used in Moulton and Florence,” Oliver said. “They both have pretty conservative ordinances in place.”
Councilman Lanny Hubbard, who represents District 4, said he was surprised to see the overwhelming support for alcohol sales in his district.
“I think the people had their minds made up that the city needs to move forward and this was something different to try,” he said.
Hubbard said he knows there is a great deal of divisiveness in the community over the sale of alcohol, but he believes the council will be able to work together to put strong ordinances in place.
“This is not going to be a honky tonk town,” he said. “The people elected us to make decisions and we will do what’s best for the city.”
One of the first things the council will have to do is consult with the ABC board.
“This is what the people voted to do,” Councilman David Grissom said.
“We are going to look at the ordinances used in Florence, Moulton and Haleyville and talk with ABC to see what is best for Russellville and that’s what we will do.”