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Dry Town Goes Wet

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Good old days are back again
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Ross Holt, a public librarian and lifelong resident, joined the push for alcohol sales.

Ross Holt: Oh gosh, it was one of the most exhilarating experiences I've ever had here in Asheboro. We were grouped around in the headquarters, which was on the corner of the two main streets in the heart of the business district, and people were spilled out onto the sidewalk. It was announced, and the place just went wild! It was just a very good feeling.

Desiree Cooper: What was it like for you to step out there and vocally say in this community, "We want to be able to sell alcohol?"

Holt: Well, in the past there was a stigma attached to it. I think the people who could get behind something like this and support it were quiet because they had customers who were on the other side. It was such a divisive issue. This time we had just a broad-based group of community leaders, and individuals like me. I just joined it as a lifelong resident. And that's what made it OK for people to put signs in their yard and get behind it and really come out and support it. If it hadn't passed, we didn't know what would happen to Asheboro.

Cooper: Why do you say that?

Holt: We've lost thousands of manufacturing jobs. That was the base of our economy for all these years-mainly textile and furniture manufacturing. And we've lost thousands of jobs over the past 10-15 years. We're not taking advantage of all we can to keep the city's economy alive. You know, the stumbling block was lack of alcohol availability.

Cooper: Well, what's the opposing point of view? Obviously, people had been against this to head it off 50 years. What's the opposite argument there?

Holt: They focused on the effects of alcohol abuse, but they conflated the effects of abuse with availability and consumption, and we didn't think you could make that correlation.

Cooper: Well, people are drinking in Asheboro, aren't they?

Holt: Oh, absolutely, and it's been that way all my life!

Cooper: So how do you manage?

Holt: There's a town about half our size or smaller nine miles to the north that long ago voted in beer and wine sales and Alcoholic Beverage Control stores. There are country clubs just outside the city limits that have permits to sell to their members and guests. There are veterans' organizations and fraternal organizations that can sell it to their members and guests, so it's not like it hasn't been here in 50-some years. Ordinary alcohol sales have been banned.

Cooper: Well, Ross, welcome to 1933!

Holt: (laughs) Thank you very much. Someone celebrating at the headquarters came up with an unofficial drink for Asheboro-sweet tea and rum-and he was going to call it "The Asheboro Libre!"


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