Alcohol Sales Issue Now Has a Spot on the November Ballot

After weeks of collecting signatures for his petition, Oscar Dillahunty knows Angelina County voters will now get to decide whether beer or wine will be sold in the county's retail stores. It will be the ever first county-wide vote on the issue.

Dillahunty is confident the issue will pass. Two years ago, he did a survey in Lufkin on retail alcohol sales. The results: 74 percent of those who responded were in favor of a wet city, but he knows many are still against the idea.

"That's their privilege and it's time for Angelina County to come in the 20th century and join the rest of the world, and I think it'll be a good thing for the county," said Dillahunty.

Opponents of Angelina County alcohol sales don't believe the issue will pass. They're hoping once the measure fails, that will be the end of it.

Angelina County Citizens for a Better Community will host a town hall meeting at 7:00 p.m. July 17 at the civic center in Lufkin. The public will be allowed to ask questions after the group provides information on the impact of alcohol sales in Angelina County.

Jack Williams, ACCBC co-chair, said, "I think it's a time for the citizens of Angelina County to stand up for what they think is right and I believe that's what's gonna happen, and I think it will go away once this thing is defeated and we fully expect it to be defeated in November."

If it is voted down, another petition can be re-filed in two years. In the past, there have only been two other petitions filed in Angelina County. One made the ballot, but failed. The other didn't have enough valid signatures to even make the ballot.

"You're gonna see how big of a deal it really is now that the word is out that's it's gonna be on the November ballot," said county tax assessor-collector, Bill Shanklin. "I think both sides are really going to start up their big guns and fight for it both directions."

If voters approve the issue, it wouldn't take long for retail alcohol sales to start. Businesses would have to file for licenses and wait for approval.

Oscar Dillahunty needed 6,529 valid signatures or 35 percent of registered Angelina County voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election. He collected about 10,000 signatures.