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Hot and Wet or Hot and Dry?

Posted: Aug 18, 2007

The state of Alabama made the national news on two consecutive days this week: first regarding the referendum that could have reversed the legal sale of alcohol in the city of Athens (billed as "Alabama City Mulls Return to Prohibition") and secondly for the protracted heat wave--triple digit temperatures for nearly ten days.

In every sense, things have been heating up in Athens, Alabama, all summer, and on Tuesday, August 14, the people spoke, passing the referendum to continue the legal sale of alcohol in the city of Athens by a whopping two to one margin. 

I was not in downtown Athens on Tuesday night, but from all reports there was standing room only at Giovanni's–the spiffy upscale Italian restaurant that opened its doors only a few weeks ago. When the results of the vote was announced, a shout went up from the crowd that would have rivaled that heard in any bar during an Auburn-Alabama football game.

                                                                 by Kim Rynders / News Courier

There has been much progress in Athens since the referendum was passed four years ago. Many new restaurants have come to town, most of them chains such as Ruby Tuesday and Applebee’s, but the city is especially proud of the new restaurants that are located in the downtown area.

Last week at lunch Mayor Dan Williams joined my friends and me at a table at Giovanni’s. We quizzed him about the upcoming referendum. Dan said “I don’t drink and my wife does not drink, but I support the legal sale of alcohol because of what it means for the future of the city of Athens. “

Mayor Williams said the city government is making nearly $250,000 in extra sales taxes directly tied to alcohol. Besides that money, overall tax revenues have grown since alcohol sales were legalized in January 2004--an  increase he attributes partly to alcohol sales.

In 2003 alcohol sales were approved by a slim 231 votes--51.6 percent to 48.4 percent. Prior to 2003 there had been four unsuccessful referendums. Athens is one of only sixteen cities in the state to use the city option law to legalize alcohol sales in a city located in a dry county. No city has ever overturned legal sales after going wet, and Athens is apparently only the second city ever to try. 

The heat wave does not seem to be abating, the cotton crop that was showing so much promise in late July appears to be withering in the fields, but for many residents of Athens, Alabama, there is still cause for celebration. No matter how hot and dry this summer turns out to be, the city of Athens will stay wet.

--Penne J. Laubenthal

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michaelbuffalo says...

Here's to "keeping it wet." I'll drink to that! But then again, there's not much I WON'T drink to! LOL. Enjoyed the article Penne. Buff

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