Should Suwannee County remain dry? Voters will decide


Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 10:56 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 10:56 a.m.

Suwannee County’s voters are being asked to decide whether the county should remain dry or join the wet counties in Florida.

Facts

Dry counties in Florida

(These counties do no allow sales of alcoholic beverages.)

  • Lafayette

  • Liberty

  • Madison

  • Suwannee

  • Washington


Package sales only
(These counties allow sales of a sealed/packaged containers of alcohol and do not allow alcohol to be consumed on the premises where it was purchased.)
  • Calhoun

  • Holmes

  • Jackson

On Aug. 16, an election will be held to determine whether alcohol sales will be allowed in the rural county. Suwannee is one of five of Florida’s 67 counties that ban sales of any beverage with an alcohol volume of more than 6.2 percent.

The idea of becoming a wet county has surfaced as a petition drive a couple of times over the last 10 or 15 years, including this year’s effort.

This year, the political action committee known as SuwanneeYes gathered more than the required 6,300 signatures to force the Suwannee County Commission to schedule a referendum. Commissioners received the results of the petition drive on Tuesday and then set the election date.

Florida has five counties, including Suwannee, that ban alcohol sales and three others that allow the sale of alcoholic beverages but don’t allow buyers to do their drinking on the premises where they buy it.

Nationwide, about 10 percent of the United States is dry, according to David J. Hanson, a professor emeritus of sociology at the State University of New York at Potsdam. He also calculated that about 18 million people live in a dry community nationwide.

Having some dry counties is no surprise to Sunshine State history buffs. Florida is the only state to ever have had a governor elected on the Prohibition Party ticket.

Sidney J. Catts, an Alabama native and Baptist minister, moved to Florida in the early 1900s and within a decade made a run to become the Democratic nominee for governor. Losing his Democratic bid, Catts asked for and received the Prohibition Party’s nomination and went on to win the 1916 race.

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