IN BRIEF: Residents voiced support and opposition to putting the question of alcohol package sales for the county on Sunday on the March 2012 ballot during a town hall meeting Tuesday evening.
During the meeting, residents were encouraged to "speak from the heart" and county commissioners repeatedly asked residents to contact them and let them know their opinion on the matter, particularly business owners who would be affected by package sales on Sundays.
"The commissioners are not making the decision," said Commissioner Oz Nesbitt. "If this is on a ballot, the people of Rockdale are making the decision."
Chairman Richard Oden said having retail alcohol sales on Sunday could be a small part of the overall economic development efforts. He pointed out numerous nearby cities and counties would be having the package sales question on their ballots in 2012 due to revenue concerns. "We want to find opportunities so we can be competative going forward," he said.
Below are excerps from the opinons voiced by residents at the town hall meeting:
Ed Tracey (in a written statement submitted to the meeting): "Our state legislature and our new Governor failed us by supporting another opportunity to provide liquor to more people, knowing that we already know this hurts families... With President Obama's leadership, we have more poor people unemployed and no solutions on the horizon... This is from the lack of creativity from ourleaders on how to bring jobs. Without more jobs, state and local revenues are dropping. To make up for the lack of leadership, we turn to all the sin taxes. So instead of fixing that issue, we look to take the little income people have and offer them to go deeper in debt and become hooked on more alcohol and drugs... Passing Sunday Alcohol sales is not a victory, it is exposing our lack of desire to fight for marlity in our culture, decency and it is throwing away our future generations for .07 cents on the dollar."
Vernell Jordan: "Alcoholism has no color. It's a choice. I'm in favor of the alcohol sales. I think it would create new jobs, revenue for the county. And most of all, it's your choice."
Jacqueline Johnson-Dixon: "I retired from a prison. But it is a choice. Rather than for us to give out anecdotal information, we have a health department, we have a jail. I think it would not be a bad idea if we ask those or any other entities that are impacted about the effects of alcoholism on our citizens... what the cost is and what money we would reap by having alcohol sales."
DeSandra Sawyer: "As a citizen, as a single mother of four young people... I'm not in favor of this at all. There is enough things for children to get into as it is, than to open the door to another time slot for alcohol sales. There are all these names on this list of cities and counties that may consider this proposal. But Rockdale County cannot afford to jump on a bandwagon. Being a pastor, we have a men's ministry. I can tell you how alcohol has affected our men... our young people, they're coming out of alcoholic families. Alcohol plays a bigger part in most of these people's lives than even drugs. Alcohol is a huge demon in our community. I am totally against it from the standpoint of the church, from the standpoint of a citizen, from the standpoint of a single mother."