Shortage of signatures delays alcohol sales on ballot

By HASKEL BURNS,

The petition in favor of allowing alcohol sales in Lamar County didn’t get quite enough signatures to allow the measure to be placed on the Aug. 6 primary election ballot, but organizers are optimistic they’ll have the required amount to make the general election in November.

Lumberton Mayor Quincy Rogers, who is spearheading the effort, said the petitions – which have been placed at Ramey’s Marketplace in Purvis, Lumberton and Sumrall, as well as online at www.votelamarcounty.com - garnered more than 3,000 signatures, short of the 7,000 needed for inclusion on the ballot. But Rogers won’t let that stop him, as he plans to continue the petition in the coming months.

“It won’t deter us,” he said. “We’re going to make November 6 our push date and try to have it on the ballot for then, so that’ll give us a couple more months to actually get out there and get to our voters. So that’s where we are now.”

Rogers said a brand-new petition will not be necessary.

“The signatures that we do have now are valid,” he said. “We did have some that we had to weed out because they weren’t residents of Lamar County, and some weren’t registered voters.

“After doing our process of elimination and making sure these numbers are correct, we’re going to be pushing for another 5,000 votes. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so we’re going to push hard between now and mid-October, and have them verified by a circuit clerk and it placed on the November ballot. We want to get over the 5,000 (more signatures) mark, so that way we’ll be safe.”

Because Lamar County is currently designated a dry county, the sale, possession or consumption of alcohol is not allowed except within the city limits of Hattiesburg.

If the petition does garner enough signatures, the matter will be presented to the Lamar County Board of Supervisors for consideration to be placed on the ballot for the general election. Twenty percent of the registered voters in Lamar County must sign the petition before it can be brought before the board. The petition can be found at the aforementioned Ramey’s locations and on the website.

To sign the petition, individuals must be a resident and registered voter of Lamar County, and must legibly print their address and name on the petition as listed on their voter registration card. Anyone who is not registered to vote can visit the Lamar County Circuit Clerk’s office in Purvis or call (601) 794-3470 to get registration information. Rogers can be reached at Lumberton City Hall by calling (601) 796-8341.

Of the 82 counties in Mississippi, 32 are dry, leaving 50 counties with a wet designation. There are also several wet cities in dry counties, including Hattiesburg (Lamar County), Ellisville and Laurel (Jones County) and Waynesboro (Wayne County).

Individuals interesting in volunteering to help gather signatures can find that information on the www.votelamarcounty.com website. Petitions downloaded from the site can be signed and mailed to Vote Lamar County, 5266 Old Highway 11 Suite 50 #106, Hattiesburg, MS 39402.

“Getting Lamar County (to be a wet county) is not the answer for whatever ails the county, but this would (economically) help some of the smaller municipalities, such as Lumberton, Purvis and Sumrall,” Rogers said in an earlier story. “I do know that some of the smaller municipalities – and certainly mine – are getting swallowed up, and there’s no opportunity.

“So we’re looking for every opportunity to help our municipalities. This could help our schools and help with our streets and roads. There’s a lot of things that increase in revenue could help us with.”

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