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Wet or Dry? Voters to decide
Early voting one of largest in city's history

by Dolores Hamilton
After one of the largest turnouts for early voting, it is expected that Saturday's City Council/Alcohol Sales election will draw even larger numbers.

When early voting ended Tuesday at city hall, 911 votes had been cast, with three ballots by mail still out, according to City Secretary Janice Newman.
On Saturday the polling place will be Friendly Door Senior Citizens Center, 810 N. 3rd St., from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The city council election and alcohol election will be on one ballot for voters living inside the city limits, and the alcohol election will be on a separate ballot for those living outside the city limits in Justice of the Peace (JP) Precinct 3.

In the city election there are three seats up for grabs. Incumbent Sherrie Williams is being challenged by Hack Alexander for Place 5; Jessalea Ricks Jones and Tim Sheppard are running for Place 1; and Jeremiah Stevens, Carmen Lozipone and Keith Dyer are opponents for Place 3.

The election for alcohol sales in JP Precinct 3 has drawn considerable interest, and representatives from each side of the issue were asked to submit reasons to vote for or against alcohol sales. Following are the results:

• The ability to sell alcohol will not bring larger national chain stores or restaurants into Iowa Park because they consider first the size of the community and then its proximity to larger communities. Iowa Park is too small and too close to Wichita Falls for national chain restaurants and Wal-Mart is not going to return. "Alcohol Sales" is not some "silver bullet" to improve economic conditions.

• There are many documented detrimental effects of excessive alcohol use and abuse including auto crash injuries and deaths as well as broken and abused families. Iowa Park does not have to be part of contributing to this problem.

• According to a youth drug prevention specialist the increased availability and acceptability of alcohol in a community increases the use of alcohol by youth and we see this as bad for our children and community.

• $100,000 in alcohol sales will only produce $2,000 tax revenue for Iowa Park and only one half of that or a mere $1,000 would go to the general fund of the city. This is not enough revenue to offset any kind of increased costs associated with implementation and enforcement of codes and ordinances that will need to be put in place.

• We need to highlight the uniqueness of Iowa Park being "dry" as a positive marketing tool for family living in North Texas.

• With passage of the proposal, Iowa Park will see increased sales tax, and less of our potential sales taxes going to neighboring communities. The sales tax would not only benefit the city's general funds, but 4-A and 4-B would also receive additional revenue, giving them more money for quality of life projects such as the swimming pool and walking track at Gordon Lake, and to lure companies such as S5! and AEP.

• The Iowa Park Police Department is currently working with a depleted staff, and they are having a hard time finding applicants, mainly because they are the lowest paid officers in the area. More revenue from alcohol sales will not fix the problem, but could help make it possible to offer pay increases and benefits, helping to keep employees here instead of Iowa Park being a training field and the employees leaving once they gain more experience.

• People in "dry" areas can drink alcohol if they wish, they simply can't legally purchase alcoholic beverages in such places. The question for voters in dry areas isn't whether or not people will drink there, but who will get the profits, taxes and other economic benefits.

• Iowa Park should not be seen as "unique" for having decreasing property tax value, understaffed police and fire departments, and no motel or golf course. We should do what we can to grow the community and provide opportunity for growth.