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Madisonville Alcohol Brings Dollars, Not Crime

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Last year, they were making room on the shelves of Godwin's supermarket in Madisonville. It's gone from butter and milk to Bud and Miller. Sales so far have beat manager Erick Cole's expectations.

"We attribute beer sales to about 10 percent of what we sell every week," Cole says. "It's really, though, helped our whole store out. I think with people staying in town, they're buying all their groceries in town. It's probably increased sales all over town."

What's not increasing is crime. Fears of a rise in alcohol-related incidents in the city have not come to fruition. In fact, it's the other way around. Comparing the year before last year's county vote to sell alcohol to the year after, and the number of DWI's have stayed pretty much the same. Public intoxication has dropped, and only one minor has been caught.

With increased police vigilance, alcohol related crime is down 16 percent, a number Police Chief George Sweetin is surprised by. "I think the citizens have done a fantastic job," he said, "and the store owners have, too, in regulating who they sell to."

So alcohol-related crime is down, and business is up. Not too bad for a city that is newly wet in their first year. However, with a church on every corner in this town, you're still likely to find some people that are against the decision.

"I'm sure the merchants will make more money out of this county being wet," said resident Jeff Farris, "but I think it really sends the wrong message to the children."

But others say the move is benefiting the area. "Instead of us going to Bryan and Huntsville or little beer joints around, now everybody's buying it here in town, going home, staying off the streets, off the highways," said resident Rodney Lockhart.

But whatever the opinion, whatever the statistics on alcohol, one thing is for certain: the beer is in Madisonville, and it's bringing the bucks in.

The one year mark for Madison county comes as precincts in Leon County approach a vote on alcohol sales in their area. JP Precinct 2 will decide whether to remain dry or become wet on September 10th, with Precinct 1 making the same decision a few weeks later.