Could Athens become dry again? - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Could Athens become dry again?

It won't be long before the city of Athens re-visits it's wet-dry issue in a referendum before voters.

For many, it'll be a choice between the economics of the town and the morality of an area known as the "Bible belt."

Just how serious of an economic impact could this have on the city of Athens?

That's the primary question we asked when we talked with the mayor and the chamber of commerce.

Athens is no longer a sleepy little north Alabama town.

It's growing by leaps and bounds.

There are restaurants and full hotels, and there are those credit this boom to the sale of alcohol .

So how would the economics be if Athens went dry again?

"I think it definitely would have an economic impact," says Mary Nell Clem.

Clem says that impact would be negative.

"There certainly has been additional revenues coming in to the city of Athens as a result of the legalization of the sales of alcoholic beverages," says Dan Williams. "The city of Athens general fund and the city of Athens schools each gets a check for about $20,000 each month."

In the heart of the bible belt, this is obviously an issue which will see morality versus revenue.

"It's an economic issue, stay focused it's an economic issue. And our mission as the chamber of commerce is to promote economic development," says Clem.

And what about the number of DUI's, and other alcohol related crimes?

"Our DUI figures that we have seen over the last several years has not increased, matter of fact they've probably decreased a small amount," says Williams.

Williams says even when dry his city has dealt with DUI's, illegal position, public drunkenness and family issues, but the difference between now and then is they didn't have the funding that went along with it.

We tried to get in touch with the Rev. Eddie Gooch of Isom's Chapel United Methodist Church. He's the one who got the new petition for the new vote, but he is on vacation right now.

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