This week marked a year since the sale of beer and light wine became legal in New Albany.
Most of the people we’ve talked with say there has been a dramatic amount of beer sold in New Albany, bringing home sales revenue that had been going to other counties, mostly Lee County.
Most of those sales, though, are in cartons at gas stations, convenience stores, and at grocery and drug stores.
Only three or four restaurants are serving beer and light wine and the projected increase in restaurants in the community largely has yet to occur. That is attributable to the economy and the fact that most chain restaurants only locate in communities that permit wine and mixed drink sales.
Proponents of the ballot issue predicted arrests for alcohol related issues would decline with legalization. That has been true for illegal possession, open containers and public drunkenness as well as driving while intoxicated outside the city limits.
However, arrests in the city for DUI have gone up significantly, which city officials attribute to a federal grant that permitted hiring a full-time police officer for DUI enforcement.
In short, the only real change has been that money no longer is flowing out of our city to neighboring counties for beer and light wine. Instead the money is helping our businesses and our restaurants survive a tough economy.