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Winnebago considers lifting alcohol prohibition with November vote

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The Village of Winnebago is asking residents to make a big decision during next week’s election.  Voters will have to decide whether stores should be allowed to sell alcohol across the entire community,

Residents want to make sure residents understand the ballot question as the wording is confusing.  Village leaders say either way voters cast their ballots there could be big changes to the area.

“Vote ‘yes’ to keep prohibition, or vote ‘no’ to get rid of it,” said Village of Winnebago Chamber of Commerce Member Kevin Doyle.  

Just days before residents head to the polls, the Winnebago Area Chamber of Commerce held an informational meeting. Resident Mike Weerda spoke as a strong proponent for lifting the ban.  “The basic part is time if you look, we have a wet Winnebago and a dry Winnebago and that just doesn’t make sense,” said Weerda.

Putting this question on the ballot comes at a risk.   If the majority of residents decide to vote ‘yes’ Doyle says there could be some adverse effects if businesses decide to leave.

“All the taxes from North of Elida Street would no longer come to the village,” said Doyle.  “My understanding is that that’s more than one-third of the income of revenue streams for the village”

Which right now, Doyle says is operating at a $1.3 million budget.  However, the effort to vote down the measure is visible throughout the village. Bright orange signs are posted in yards that read vote ‘no.’ 

Doyle says if that’s the majority vote, then more money could come into the village.  “Proponents of this thing would hope to bring in a revenue stream in by bringing liquor and gaming to those in town who don’t have it now,” said Doyle.  

Advocates add the vote to lift the ban could help the village compete with the surrounding area that aren’t dry communities.

“When you have a bar downtown like this you’re going draw people down here,” said Weerda. “It’s going to be nothing, but benefit to businesses in the area and promote growth I hope in Winnebago.  I’d like to see this downtown come back to life.”

This vote will be on the ballot to those who live within village limits.

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