Saturday, Madison County residents flooded to the polls, and for the first time in its 150 year history, the county will be wet. Stores like Godwin's Supermarket in Madisonville are already preparing to sell alcohol.
Soon, it won't just be two lonely shelves of non-alcoholic beverages in the store, but instead, a number of refrigerators with everything from Anheuser-Busch to Zima.
"Historically, alcohol will add to a grocery store approximately about five percent of their income," said Erick Cole, the manager of Godwin's. "We don't know how it's going to do here because it's never been sold here before."
"People want to stay and live in Madisonville," said city manager Tom Ginter. "Certain age groups desire to shop in Madisonville, and who do want to purchase alcohol instead of driving all the time, which they've been doing for a long time."
And the possible economic impact is already being felt. Ginter explained, "The Madison County Economic Development Corporation received an offer for 25 acres of property that this corporation owns in an industrial park, which is next to I-45, and this offer was for a beer distributor."
Not only would that mean the products would be close by, but also more jobs and revenue for the county. Among the proponents of a dry county is Pastor Gary Ladd, who believes the county will lose money because of the need to increase police presence, more litter, and a new need for alcohol counseling.
"My prayer is that those who voted yes for the alcohol will be just as quick to say yes with their help for people," said Ladd. "I hope that they have that kind of community heart in mind, to say, 'Hey, we're responsible enough to have it close by.' I hope they'll be responsible enough to help those folks who have needs."
"We're very concerned about those types of things. I know the city council is," said Ginter. "We'll watch those carefully. We do not want those to get out of hand."
But the votes are in, and the stores are getting ready to stock up.
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