NEW ALBANY, Miss. (AP) — Sometime in the next couple of weeks, someone will buy the first lawful beer in New Albany in the memory of most people living here.
Sales of beer and light wine were approved by city voters Jan. 12, and on March 2 aldermen finalized the ordinance regulating those sales. Thirty days after the required public notice of the ordinance, unless other complications arise, beer sales should begin on April 15.
Mississippi State Tax Commission spokesman Kathy Waterbury said that as of Wednesday five businesses had submitted applications for permits and two others had been returned for additional information.
In addition, one business has applied for a wholesaler's license for New Albany.
Some businessmen are eager to start selling beer.
Dave McNeal was readying space for new coolers to accommodate the suds at his Glenfield convenience store.
"I've been getting geared up. I've had to hire a few extra people. I think it's going to boost our economy here in town," he said.
Asked if he's had any negative comments about his plans, McNeal said the only ones were in jest.
"They believe it's my freedom of choice to do what I believe. They come here for the friendship and the camaraderie and what we have to offer them," he said. "I'm looking out for the people working for me."
Ali Sharaf, manager of Regal Truck Stop on Mississippi Highway 30 West, has already cleared out several sections of his store's walk-in cooler.
"I think it's good," he said. "It's been a year and a half since the economy went bad, and business has been bad."
Mike Mansell, owner of Piggly Wiggly grocery store, is adamant.
"This store is not going to sell beer," he said. "I have five children, and I have preached against it, so I'm not going to start selling something I've told them they'd better stay away from."
Pizza Hut manager Lakinna Pegues said her restaurant will not add beer to its offerings.
"We're a family restaurant," she said. "We have a lot of young people working here."
Some businesses are not ready to make a decision yet.
"That's an issue we'll deal with in the future," said Angie Barder, a supervisor at Union Station, a new city restaurant. "Probably customer response will determine whether we do serve beer at some point."
Wayne Dye, owner of Action Lanes bowling alley, said he hasn't applied for anything yet.
"I'm weighing all my options," he said. "I'm waiting to see how it goes over."