Dena Dinius, Mark Ellis and others have started a campaign to legalize the sale of liquor in Erath County. Currently, only beer and wine sales are allowed here, but they are trying to change that.

In an interview with the E-T Thursday, Dinius said, “This is a matter of convenience, safety and keeping the revenue that’s flowing out of Erath County to neighboring counties right now. When people have to leave the county to buy liquor, they often will spend money on food, gas and entertainment elsewhere. That all a net loss for Erath County.”

Ellis, owner of several businesses in Erath County agreed, “We also think it will help make Stephenville a more attractive destination for tourists. Right now you have to drive to Granbury or over by Proctor or Hico to get to the nearest liquor store. This would keep people in our city. So it’s a convenience, and safety issue, and as Dena points out, an economic issue as well. We want people to come here and stay here and spend here.”

Dinius said their effort has the goal of placing the matter on the May 2017 ballot.

“We need 2,588 valid signatures for it to make the ballot. The process is 60 days long, and we have to have those valid signatures ready to turn into the County Clerk by November 14th.”

Asked what constitutes a valid signature, she said, “People have to have a residence in Erath County and must be registered to vote because the signatures have to be verified by county voter registration.”

Ellis said, “We’re hoping that local businesses will let us put petitions on their counters so it’s convenient for people to sign.

“We’d like to make it clear that we want these to be high-end establishments in Stephenville and Dublin, and we think this is just a common sense issue, not a moral one. We already have beer and wine sales here and that was approved by the voters. This is just an extension of that in our view.”

Dinius added, “What we have in mind for Stephenville is something that fits with the Cowboy Capital of the World image, a Western style store. “

Ellis said, “For Dublin, maybe it would be an Irish theme. The point is, a store like this needs to fit the image of the city, and should this pass, that’s certainly the aim.

“We’ve already spoken to the Dublin Economic Development Corporation and are planning to contact the Stephenville Economic Development Authority as well. We want all the support of the community we can get for this.”

Ellis added that they are in the process of doing some research on surrounding counties where liquor sales are legal regarding tax revenues, overall economic impact and safety issues.

The E-T will publish the results as soon as they become available.