Community Split on Alcohol Proposal - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/14/06

Community Split on Alcohol Proposal

Depending on how you look at it, alcohol is part of the party, big business, or bad morals. One community could soon relax the rules of where you can buy beer and wine, and it's a debate that's dividing the town.

You can find almost anything at convenience stores in Jesup. Gasoline, cigarettes, even boiled peanuts. You won't find beer or wine, but that could change. Jesup's City Commission narrowly passed the first reading of an ordinance that would open sales to gas stations and grocery stores.

The debate has everyone talking.

"We already have package stores here so it's not going to make a difference," said Nekia Wilson, who supports the ordinance. "If you're a drinker, you're going to get it."

"I think it's more accessible to young people to buy. It's just more accessible," said Sharon Passmore, who's opposed. "I just don't think we should sell it in our grocery stores."

Chamber leaders say the current ban has been an issue for other grocery chains looking at opening in Jesup.

"The crux of the discussion is whether or not we can get another grocery store," said Mark Tessier.

Local ministers like Rev. Bobby Creel are leading the fight. "We look across society and see the effects of alcohol and I believe nothing good will come to our city by the expanded use of alcohol," he said.

They say politics makes for strange bedfellows. The ministers who oppose the change find themselves with a strange ally in the package store owners, who don't want to lose their monopoly.

What no one can predict now is if an increase in supply will mean an increase in demand.

Jesup's City Commission meets next Tuesday. We'll of course let you know what they decide.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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