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Vote set on alcohol sales in 1 of Mississippi’s dry counties

It could soon be possible to buy beer or liquor in part of one of Mississippi’s last five dry counties.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported Friday that referendums are set for Oct. 15 to allow alcohol sales in Booneville in Prentiss County. One measure would allow sales of liquor and full-strength wine. The other would allow sales of beer and light wine. Voters could reject both measures, approve one, or approve both.

Benton, Choctaw, Walthall and Webster are the other four counties in Mississippi where beer and alcohol sales are illegal throughout. Many other counties are a patchwork of wet and dry areas.

Booneville voters rejected beer and light wine sales in 2010 by just 21 votes. Voters across Prentiss County rejected alcohol sales by a broader margin later in 2010. State law says there must be a five-year span between liquor elections. Beer elections can be held every two years.

Supporting legalization is C.J. McCoy of Moving Booneville Forward. He says sales would help businesses and generate tax revenue.

“This is not a moral issue, it’s a business decision,” McCoy said. “Beer and liquor are already in Booneville. “But people are spending their money in other counties and the tax money stays there. That is detrimental to Booneville.”

McCoy’s group gathered more than 900 signatures from Booneville city voters to put the two referendums on the ballots. Absentee voting is already underway.

McCoy said organizers have been talking about a new referendum since 2015, but were told it would soon be a moot point. They were led to believe that the state legislature planned to abolish prohibition and make the entire state wet.

“That never happened,” McCoy said, “so we started collecting signatures.”

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