By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Cooke County —
A local option election set for mid-May could determine if Cooke County’s Justice of the Peace (JP) Precinct 4 stays dry or goes wet.
Voters can make a choice on May 11 regarding sale of alcoholic beverages in the precinct, an area that encompasses portions of Valley View, Era, Muenster and Lake Kiowa.
If the vote favors “wet” some cities would automatically become wet and would have to hold an election to return to “dry” status.
Currently, the county’s other JP precinct — designated as JP Precinct 1 — encompasses the northern region of the county and is “dry,” though the included cities of Muenster, Lindsay and Gainesville already allow alcohol sales.
And on a city-by-city basis, Valley View, which is now dry, may become the most noticeably affected municipality in JP Precinct 4 if the May vote favors a “wet” change. Valley View City Secretary Mary Hakse said Tuesday that under Texas Alcohol Beverage Code (TABC) law, JP Precinct 4’s change of status from dry to wet will also automatically change the city of Valley View from dry to wet if votes throughout the county go in that direction.
“Since the city of Valley View never had an election to be dry, we will automatically be under the jurisdiction of the TABC,” she said.
However, Hakse added, another special city election in November (or in May 2014) could reverse that status and return Valley View to “dry.”
Positions concerning the sale of alcohol in a dry city are varied.
Valley View resident Kimzie Sandmann said she doesn’t support any initiative that would allow alcohol sales in the precinct.
“The net revenue is not positive, if you look at the whole consequences of having alcohol in the community,” she said Tuesday. “I’ve heard the ‘pros’ say they could bring in a restaurant. But there are already restaurants where you can have it be ‘BYOB.’ And no, there’s not as much profit, but you can still have a restaurant.”
Sandmann added that in the long term, enabling alcohol sales doesn’t signify a civic benefit.
“It doesn’t bring in more than it has go out the door,” she said.
Valley View resident Pauline Lesch said that from a legal standpoint, alcohol sales in JP Precinct 4 should be acceptable.
“Alcohol is a legal product and I think sale of alcohol is regulated and monitored by the state,” she said. “Just like sales of tobacco are regulated. I think people who go into business should have the option of selling alcohol; they comply with regulations, they get their license and then they sell it.”
But Lesch added that whatever the votes decide, a congruent countywide policy is most ideal.
“I think we should have consistent alcohol laws in this county,” she said. “To me, it doesn’t make sense to have the northern part of the county under one set of rules and the southern part under another.”
Election day information
Polls for the JP Precinct 4 local option election are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 11. On that day, voters can visit these locations:
Mt. Springs Community Center (in voting precinct 10) — 173 Mountain Springs Lane, Valley View.
Valley View Baptist Church (in voting precinct 11) — 504 N. Lee St., Valley View.
Era Community Center (in voting precinct 12, 14 and 15) — 102 Malone St. in Era.
Veterans of Foreign Wars building (in voting precinct 17) — 136 Ash St. in Muenster.
Lake Kiowa Lodge (in voting precinct 22) — 905 W. Kiowa Drive in Lake Kiowa.
Early voting in the option election is set to be available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, April 29, through Friday, May 3, on the first floor of Cooke County Courthouse, 101 S. Dixon St. in Gainesville.