by Kara Laws
Last week we talked about the reasons that many people in Blanding City are hoping to lift the ban on the sale of alcohol.
This week, we will explore the reasons why just as many insist the ban should remain intact. Mail-in ballots have been arriving and people are starting to vote, once again, on if Blanding City should continue to hold true to what some say are, “long standing values.”
As communities with bold values continue to decrease, many believe that Blanding City should be holding onto their values instead of changing them for potential tourists. The City of Blanding did not become a dry town by mistake, it was created by the citizens who fought for that, and forced a state liquor store out of town.
Some citizens now ask themselves if that fight is lost as Blanding attempts to make itself “more appealing” for people just passing through.
Councilman candidate Robert Turk stated at a recent council debate that he believes there are things more important than money, and this is one of those things. Many agree as they list issues such as: teen drinking, drunk driving, and domestic abuse as reasons to keep alcohol sales at bay.
None argue the statement that teen drinking is an issue, even in this dry community. But those in favor of keeping the alcohol ban intact state that making alcohol even a little harder for teens to get helps keep the rates down. The Surgeon General agrees. In the Surgeon General Call to Action on underage drinking, it states that the factors in teens choosing to drink include not only the appeal of alcohol but also its availability.
The Surgeon General also tasks communities with the role of being more active in the prevention of underage drinking, stating that the community where they live, and the way alcohol is portrayed there, is one of the most influencing factions.
One of the four steps, from the call to action, includes, “creating friendly, alcohol-free places”.
The CDC also states that it “will require community-based efforts to monitor … and decrease access to alcohol.” The marketing rule of repetition also states that the more a person sees one item, the more likely they are to think about it, and purchase it later.
There is a reason ad space and shelf space is expensive. Many citizens find these facts reason enough to vote to keep the ban intact this November.
While some insist that not allowing the sale of alcohol in town, infringes on their rights and forces values and beliefs on others, there is argument that the ban does nothing of the sort.
The ban does not effect whether a person can drink or not. It does not control what one does in their home. It only changes where that hobby can be bought.
“Alcohol related crimes – domestic violence, murder, broken homes, abuse, suicide, rape, theft, and many others contribute to unhealthy communities,” states Leslie Nielson, a local resident and business owner.
“Others choices affect more than the individual. Local governments are important in helping to maintain a healthy community. … Each community has the right to decide, through their votes. As citizens we have a right to ban it.”
The alcohol ban also does not prevent alcohol from coming into town, it only prevents it from being sold in city limits. This is something that all businesses here know long before they make the choice to add their services to our economy.
Due to state laws, there are very few businesses in town that can sell alcohol if the ban is lifted, even if they apply for a variance. There are several that will chose not to if given the choice.
There are eight Clark’s Market stores in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah, none of those stores currently sell alcohol. It is unlikely the one in Blanding will be the one exception.
Blanding citizens that state they will vote in favor of the ban remaining intact are happy with the type of place that Blanding typically is. While they recognize and continue to work on improving the town, they hope that this idiosyncrasy attracts that type of family friendly tourism that they are hoping to see.
Blanding is changing, and that change is okay. But many are hoping it is a change that the residents of Blanding City can control, instead of being a victim of changes that overtake us and turn the town into something that they no longer recognize.
Many are proud of their dry town, and many citizens state that it is a very important reason they chose to raise their families here.
“As parents,” one local business owner stated, “It is our job to keep alcohol out of our kids’ hands. We know perfectly well that they can get it if they want to. But, it is my job, as their parent, to make sure it is as hard to get as possible. I will vote to keep the ban intact.”
Blanding is the not the only city in the nation to hold fast to not selling alcohol. There are more than 60 dry cities and municipalities, within wet counties. And there are more than another 140 dry counties within the nation.
Many past residents also watch for the results of this debate. Johnny Slavens said, “If I lived in Blanding I would do everything in my power to keep alcohol sales out of city limits … I am absolutely against the Bears Ears National Monument since it is thoroughly unconstitutional on multiple levels. Having said that, legalizing the sale of alcohol would be a thousand times worse.”
Many citizens with first hand knowledge of the harm alcohol can help create fight hard to ensure this ban remains in place.
Armed with passion and drive, facts and statistics these citizens hope that many other residents will join them in voting to keep Blanding the type of town so many residents moved home for.