YOUNG COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Olney is among the dry communities left in the state of Texas, but for the fourth time in its history, residents will decide if alcohol sales should be allowed in their community.
“I’ve been with the city since 2016, so I have been preparing, more or less, for this election, the entire time, if you will,” Tim Houston, Olney city secretary, said.
Dry for over 100 years. Since 1909, no business in Olney has legally sold any alcohol beverages.
“Think about the time you take,” Oscar Munoz, official with Campaign for the Champagne, said. “45 minutes to go get your liquor, the gas, the wear and tear over the years.”
Of course, there is opposition.
“Yes, on one hand, you might not have to drive ten miles to get your beer, but on the other hand, what damage does it do,” Chad Edgington, Olney First Baptist Church pastor, said.
Oscar Munoz spearheaded the “Campaign for Champagne” push, a measure that’s been voted down four times in Olney before.
Most recently, an “off-premise” alcohol sales measure failed by just 18 votes in 2018, and only 9 votes the previous election.
But now, main street is lined with signs.
“People here have some form of alcohol in their house. Where did they buy it? They didn’t buy it here in Olney, meaning we lost out on the sales tax dollars of those,” Munoz said.
Not only keeping sales tax dollars in the Young County town, but also opening up the opportunity for restaurants and other business ventures to take advantage of added revenue, growing Olney’s economy.
“Keeping the money in our community is a huge thing,” Munoz said.
Pastor Edgington disagreed though, saying the effects of alcohol abuse are not seen most of the time, they are felt for years to come.
“It’s going to be a step backwards for a town that’s trying to advance and thrive,” Edgington said.
Edgington isn’t saying to vote “no” to alcohol completely, but feels they might be going zero to 100 a little too fast.
“Going the full measure and contemplating bars on main street in Olney and liquor stores opening up in olney. That’s going to change the dynamic we have,” Edgington said.
A decision that will be made by the people, both sides striving to make Olney better for the future.
Houston adds that if it passes, the city will need to make sure its ordinances are in accordance with state law.