Several East Texas Towns Want to Ban Booze

Beer and wine sales have already started in Angelina County, but the wet/dry debate is not over yet. Zavalla, Diboll, Hudson, and Huntington could be facing the issue of alcohol sales in the spring election in May. Business owner, Leon Mewbern, is pushing a petition in Zavalla to ban booze and curb crime.

"It takes for anywhere from two to five hours from the time they work [a public intoxication call], do the investigation on the site, then they got to put them in their car, carry them to Lufkin, do the paperwork on them up there in the jail, then get back on the street," Mewbern said. "They're going to be off the street anywhere from two to five hours time wise."

So far, the only Zavalla business that has filed for an alcohol permit is Coleman's. That's because many of the other retailers in town are too close to the schools to sell beer and wine.

"[From] a case of Budweiser - 30-can case, if they sell it that way - the city will get 21.25 cents per case," said Mewbern. "So if they sold a thousand cases, they would get $212.50 for every 30,000 cans that they sold."

Mewbern's already collected a hundred signatures on his petition, more than he needs to get the wet/dry debate on the ballot, again. But Diboll is also planning to dry up drinking and Dakshesh Patel is not happy about it. The owner of the Diboll Food Mart is expecting his alcohol license any day now and is ready to stock his store with beer and wine.

Patel asked, "I hope that it doesn't go dry, because the hard-earned money of a person; why would he like to go and spend it in the other county?"

And Patel said most business owners are not looking to get rich off people buying booze.

"A lot of people think it's more [beneficial] for us, but the money stays in the county," said Patel. "We pay taxes back to the state that stays in the county, so overall, it's a benefit to the community itself."

There's also an anti-alcohol petition going around in Huntington. Only 168 valid signatures are needed for a wet/dry election there, but Mayor Herman Woolbright said the city is staying neutral.

"We have to deal with the issue of alcohol anyway because the people that want it, they get it," said Woolbright. "I don't know of any additional wrecks or arresting people for public intoxication; I don't think that's gone up any."

Right now, only one store in town is selling alcohol. Brookshire Brothers is now a beer and wine retailer in Huntington. Most of the other businesses are taking a wait-and-see approach to see if it the town will stay wet or become dry once again.

Hudson is another Angelina County town with a wet/dry petition in the works. Members of the city's faith-based community only need 351 valid signatures before they can once again vote on the wet/dry issue.