“Why settle for a ‘better’ Cullman when we already have the BEST?”

Ken Allen, Pastor, Eastside Baptist Church
September 24, 2010

Can anyone see this scenario? The “wet” side needs more signatures as the deadline approaches. In comes a development that has been on the radar before the recession started. Someone says, “We need a medium to get our propaganda out – ah yes, The Cullman Times.” I don’t know if this scenario is true or not, I’ll leave it to the readers to decide. The Cullman Times did not even publish an article or quote anyone showing the ills of alcohol or if it has helped or hurt or had no effect on cities like Decatur or Birmingham. And although our city and county leaders did not say in Sunday’s articles, “I’m for going wet,” their sentiment gave them away.

By the way – did anyone notice all of the positives about Cullman in Sunday’s articles: “Growing town in a market that’s not growing; great transportation access and schools; people want to come to Cullman to shop because they like it; and we haven’t felt the extreme qualities of the recession.” The pro-alcohol folks call themselves the “Coalition for a Better Cullman.” A friend said this to me, “Why settle for a ‘better’ Cullman when we already have the BEST?” We have a great city without the sale of alcohol. Does anyone in Cullman want to move to Jefferson County? Their county government should be giving money away from alcohol tax revenue. Instead they are laying off workers and cutting back services. Which one of the wet cities in local counties would people want to move to when comparing that city to Cullman? People want to live and move here because Cullman is a special place.

Alcohol sales will not make us a “Better” Cullman, just the opposite will happen. Cullman’s last murder (a few years ago) involved one Hispanic male stabbing another Hispanic male. Both were under the influence of… alcohol. If alcohol becomes more accessible, then violent crime WILL go up. According to research, “Being a dry county situationally reduces murder by more than half.” (Source: Sean Maddan, Gwen Ervin-McLarty, Jeffery T. Walker, & Richard D. Hartley. An Examination of the Link Between Alcohol Availability and Violent Crime in Arkansas – Arkansas Crime Information Center – pg. 22, 2006.) I am all for retail development in Cullman, but at what cost. There will be a cost and it will involve people. Will having a Red Lobster and Bonefish Grill be worth changing the cultural landscape of our community? According to a Los Angeles Times article on Dec. 29, 2008, “The closer teens live to where alcohol is sold, the greater the seeming risk of binge drinking and driving under the influence. Researchers from the Pardee Rand Graduate School in Santa Monica researched the relationship between proximity to alcohol retailers in zones around homes in California and drinking in children ages 12 to 17. They found an association among homes within walking distance (about half a mile) of places selling alcohol and evidence of binge drinking and driving after drinking. The Study also noted that alcohol is more readily available in minority and lower-income areas.” (http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/29/health/he-capsule29)

For anyone willing to examine the facts, they will agree that increased accessibility to alcohol will make for a “worse” Cullman.  For additional information visit the Wet/Dry Issues page.

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