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New push to allow alcohol sales in Walker County

{ }(Aidan / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 / MGN)

A new push to allow alcohol sales is underway in Walker County.

The county is dry, but several of its cities, including Jasper, allow the sales.

Now, one business owner is leading the charge to try to extend alcohol sales into the rest of the county.

George Hicks owns an old convenient store in Pumpkin Center, part of Walker County where alcohol sales are not allowed.

He wants to re-open the store, but says he wants to change the county’s alcohol laws first.

“A lot of people that want to drink, they drive into Jefferson County,” said Hicks. “They drive right by my store to go to Jefferson County.”

Hicks says that affects all kinds of sales.

“While they're there, they get you know, whatever else they need,” explained Hicks. “They fill their car up with gas. They get cigarettes, a loaf of bread.”

He wants to bring that revenue into Walker County and he went to the county commission earlier this month to ask for help.

His goal can be accomplished in several ways. The local legislative delegation can pass a bill to put the option on the ballot for voters. A second method would be to create a petition with enough signatures, which can require the county probate judge to set an election.

Hicks is pursuing both options.

He knows he'll face some opposition.

“I would vote no,” said Pete Leone.

Leone says his vote would be about safety.

“I think it's useless,” said Leone. “We don't need alcohol around here. There's enough problems out on the road now. We don't need people drinking and driving.”

Sen. Greg Reed (R- Jasper) says he looks to the county commission for guidance on local legislative issues.

At least one county commissioner, Ralph Williams, supports the change and he says he'll support whatever can help generate needed revenue to help with county budget issues.

We checked with Walker County Probate Office, who told us the county voted on this issue in 1975. 66 percent of voters rejected alcohol sales.

Walker County is one of 24 counties in Alabama that is dry.

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