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Creating a 'responsible' oasis
01/24/08

I read with interest a story in Tuesday’s Wichita Falls Times and Record News “High and dry in Iowa Park.”

It touches on a subject I spoke of in last week’s column – the need for Precinct 3 to join the rest of Wichita County and the surrounding area in allowing alcohol sales.

Writer Lara K. Richards uses the term “dry oasis” to describe Iowa Park.

I like oasis. It affords a vision of safety from the outside elements ... like a big Berlin wall ... which in this case some might believe protects the city from a scourge of moral decadence from those who sip Crown and coke with a sly grin right on their front porch as dusk falls each evening, or burp Budweiser while pulling their pork on the spit.

I’ve seen such horrors. Sometimes it isn’t pretty.

But they are legal horrors. And the great majority of those who sip and burp through the days and nights do so in responsible fashion.

The premise that Iowa Park remaining dry will keep our city and its citizens from experiencing problems of alcohol abuse is just bull hockey.

Those problem folk already exist. It wasn’t like they can’t buy alcohol anywhere. They just have to get in their cars and drive a spell.

Which brings to mind a time when I lived in Hereford as an 18-year-old, when youngsters that age could legally drink (and fight in a war, and vote in an election).

Hereford was dry (don’t know if they still are), so you had to drive some 20 miles towards Dimmitt to hit the oasis, which in this case ‘oasis’ being the wet spot on the map.

Thing is, people were parched by the time they got there, so the road was littered with empty cans all the way back.

Lubbock remained dry for a long time, but they had a strip on the outskirts of town, which is probably now absorbed into the suburbs, where you could hit Pinky’s on a Friday night and buy a 12-pack of Coors and a bucket of barbecue chicken gizzards.

More people suffered later more from the gizzards than the beer.

I can attest to that. But man, those gizzards were good.

Now, what about the prospects of Iowa Park finally going wet? Would this send a message to the world that Iowa Parkans had grown soft on alcohol abuse? That suddenly this town wasn’t such a great, safe place to raise their children?

I don’t know. Let’s ask the citizens of the counties of Wilbarger, Knox, Foard, and Hardeman, who voted wet in the recent past.

I don’t think those folk are any less concerned than we are of the potential for alcohol abuse.

I sincerely believe the majority of them feel these days that fighting a wet-dry election isn’t the front line of fighting the battle of alcohol abuse. More importantly, it is acknowledging the right of responsible drinkers to make their purchases without having to empty half a gas tank getting there.

Our churches, in my opinion, should promote an open-door policy for everyone, including those who might abuse substances or drink ... and be there with spiritual and humane guidance and support.

Our people, in my opinion, should accept the fact that the majority who drink alcohol do so with an acceptable level of responsibility, and those who do consistently abuse alcohol are no less human, they might just need some help and guidance, not isolation and retribution.

Iowa Park City Administrator Mike Price was quoted in TRN as saying “Whether it be drug-related or alcohol-related, those are costly problems that you’ve got to remedy.
A lot of times you can find out that the sales tax that’s being generated ... isn’t covering the kind of problems they can create.”

That is assuming, once again, that such problems don’t already exist in Iowa Park, which they do. But only for a certain percentage of the population.

To say that voting Iowa Park and Precinct 3 wet would add to the problem is a serious stretching of reality.

And I’m all about realities.

One reality is this – Iowa Park going wet isn’t going to single-handedly help the city grow and progress in the years ahead.

The reality is, it won’t hurt, either.



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