Posted: Oct 26, 2013 11:33 AM
Updated: Oct 26, 2013 11:33 AM
HARPER, Texas (AP) A boozy ballot measure may finally let a tiny Texas town raise a drink in celebration.
A November referendum in rural Harper would repeal a nearly 80-year-old local law that bans the sale of spirits containing more than 3.2 percent alcohol by weight. So weak are those suds that one wedding spot can't even offer newlyweds champagne to toast their nuptials.
The San Antonio Express-News (http://bit.ly/1eVzluQ ) reports that the Hill Country town passed the restrictions two years after the U.S. repealed Prohibition in 1933.
"It needs to come up with the times," said Royanne Smith, manager of the Cafe at The Ridge eatery that opened in 2011 but had a permit application to sell wine denied.
A drink's potency is measured by alcohol by volume. Under the unusual threshold in Harper, even some popular light beer lagers would be banned. A typical glass of wine exceeds 9 percent alcohol by volume.
The vote on the repeal is Nov. 5.
When petitions for the referendum circulated last spring, Smith said "tons" of caf customers wanted to sign. But only the 1,631 currently registered voters in the 149-square-mile area are eligible, County Clerk Mary Lynn Rusche said.
Petitions signed by the required 154 voters were qualified in June. At least two previous petition drives had failed, one of them led by the Double B Ranch and Resort, which hosts corporate meetings, weddings, hunting trips and also runs a seasonal golf course.
Bambi Harrell, the resort manager, said she can't provide champagne during weddings.
"This rule is costing us guests," she said. "It's going to only help everyone in this community to repeal it, by bringing more tourists and corporate guests."
At the local Dauna's Store, Pam Fogle says she has to tell hunters to drive 20 miles to buy wine or whiskey.
No organized opposition has emerged to next month's ballot measure. Gillespie County Judge Mark Stroeher says the repeal will probably pass easily.
"There were a number of folks who were surprised that Gillespie County even had any spots where alcohol sales were restricted," Stroeher said.
Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com