LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - 1900's Lufkin looked a lotdifferent than today. The days of prohibition are gone with new business poppingup, including the soon-to-be "Love Distilleries", located in the 100 block ofE.Lufkin Avenue.
"It's a neat project,"business owner Bruce Love said. "It's good economic development and it is aneat addition to what they are already doing to a fantastic job downtown."
The distillery will be thefirst of its kind in Lufkin, manufacturing hard liquor but don't expect to beable to grab a bottle.
"Lufkin is in a drycounty so there is no vending of spirits here," Love said. "The only thing wecan do is give away one one-ounce sample."
Getting to last night'sfirst reading by city council was not easy. Love first had to convince city andcounty leaders it would be ok to put a distillery in a place that is dry whenit comes to hard liquor.
"Part of the process withthe Texas Alcohol and Beverage Committee was if Lufkin is in a dry County, thecity clerk and county clerk had to sign off on allowing a distillery insideAngelina County limits," Love said. "There was a lot of discussion back andforth between the city, county judge, the economic development director and theTABC as to whether a distillery could be opened in a dry for liquor county. Itwas a lengthy process and during the time we worked through that we stored theequipment in the garage."
Love said the process thenhit a bump in the road.
"There has been nomoonshining incident. The stories that ran have been a little misleading," Lovesaid. "First of all, we support the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Committee folks.They have a hard job to do. We support all law enforcement. It's a familyproject; one that we started with my brothers and my dad. The TABC made the rulingthat I was in illegal possession of the commercial distillation equipment."
Last March TABC agentsraided love's home where the commercial equipment was stored. Love said he feltlike it was wrong and law enforcement was misinformed on the legality of theequipment.
Sheriff Greg Sanches toldKTRE today that he could not comment on love's statement.
"We were only used thatday as a support role for the TABC," Sanches said. "It was their case."
The TABC has also stood bytheir decision in taking the equipment.
According to the Angelina County court records, on Feb. 13, Love pleadedguilty to two misdemeanors of possession of an illicit beverage and equipmentto manufacture.
Love said he feels innocentbut agreed to the charges.
"We took to theattitude that it was like going 56 miles per hour in a 55 zone," Love said. "Theygot a tough job to do so we went ahead and paid the fine and continue to moveforward."
Love says the family hopes that in the nextfive to six months they will have the business open and ready to go.