LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Ten years ago, Angelina County voters went to the polls in favor of selling beer and wine in the county. In November, voters could go to the polls to take up the issue of hard liquor sales in the county.
Matt Davis has collected 10 signatures needed to present to the county that would then start the process of allowing for a full petition to be filed for the proposed proposition.
"I think it is long past due for change," Davis said. "It has been about 80 years since we have had liquor sales in the county."
Davis said he is concerned that the county is losing revenue to Trinity and Nacogdoches Counties.
"I think it is a shame that our sales go to Nacogdoches County and Trinity County instead of Angelina County," Davis said. "I don't think it is by accident that these places are built right on the other side of the river."
Phyllis Grandgeorge, the executive director of The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas, believes the limited ways residents can get liquor in the county has slow down underage drinking.
"Having that hard liquor not sold in our community has at least allowed that lack of access for the different types of hard liquor they will sale," Grandgeorge said.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 40 percent of high school students in the state have admitted to underage drinking. Grandgeorge said the more stores with liquor in the area, the greater the chance is of those numbers rising.
"The potential for underage drinking goes up when you have more outlets," Grandgeorge said. "It is something for our community we would want them to consider."
Davis said he understands concerns over drunk drivers and underage drinking but disagrees with the notion of issues rising.
"I don't think the availability in Angelina County will make anything change," Davis said. "I don't think DWI rates will change. I don't think any of those statistics will change."
Davis has 60 days to get the required 5,880 signatures to get the issue on the November Ballot. Davis feels the issue of who will be the next president along with the potential sale of liquor in the county will bring more people to the polls.
"I think we have a very crucial election this November and I think this is just one more thing that will get people to the polls," Davis said.
Davis hopes to have the first round of paperwork filed by the end of Wednesday. Davis said he is trying to get businesses on board with the effort and already is organizing a team of volunteers.