Change in Roaring Spring?

The proposal to end Roaring Spring’s 99-year-long alcohol, manufacture and sales prohibition is being met with mixed reactions.

That is no surprise.

But there’s an established path within state law for deciding such a change, and borough residents, now that the issue has surfaced, might have the opportunity to make their feelings known.

That can happen during the May 21 primary election if, by March 12, those in favor of ending the community’s “dry” status can collect enough signatures to put the question on that election’s ballots.

The number of signatures needed is 156 — 25 percent of the highest vote cast by borough voters for any office in last November’s general election.

Proponents of the change recognize the economic value of attracting more people to restaurants and other venues in the borough — people who might currently be shunning those establishments because of the prohibition against being served a glass of wine or beer with their meal.

Some opponents fear unwanted conduct by those consuming such beverages, or simply don’t want to change a ban that has existed for so long.

Alcohol manufacture and sales have been prohibited in the borough since the start of prohibition on Jan. 16, 1920.

Still, other residents really have no real preference; they see no harm in ending the ban, but have no objections to keeping it.

Such differing opinions were commonplace in the past when states and communities were wrestling with the issue of ending blue laws — those statutes that regulated work, commerce and amusements on Sundays.

Those laws were built upon a premise of regulating morals and conduct, the same thinking that’s ingrained in “dry” status.

Most people in today’s world use words such as “antiquated,” “ancient” and “obsolete” to refer to such thinking. It’s somewhat of a surprise that it has taken so long for a concerted effort to be launched to make Roaring Spring more permissive on the alcoholic-beverage front.

It’s true that if the question is on the May 21 ballot, the proposed change might or might not be approved; the will of the majority of voters must and will prevail.

Either way, residents will be able to feel comforted by the fact that good, responsible locals were leaders of the effort — that harming the community was the farthest thing from their minds. Regardless of the outcome, even whether or not the question gets on the May 21 ballot, residents will be able to feel satisfied that the root objective was to access the community’s opinion, not force the change onto the borough’s daily life.

In an article in Sunday’s Mirror, Borough Councilman Rodney Green made the point that “not having alcohol sales in the hospitality and restaurant industry is an impediment,” and Charlene Dodson, another advocate of the change, wants it to be known that proponents, like opponents, want no “broken nose atmosphere.”

The issue is simply about ending a restriction that most people throughout this country consider unnecessary and unreasonable — a restriction that outlived its effectiveness a long time ago, if, indeed, it ever was effective.

Roaring Spring will continue to be a good place to live, whichever way the issue ultimately is decided.

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