The Oxford Board of Aldermen passed a revised ordinance last Tuesday to allow grocery and convenience stores sell cold beer and light wine every day of the week, including Sundays.
The ordinance was passed on a 6-1 vote by the board and will go in effect Sept. 20, which is 21 days before Ole Miss plays their conference opener against Texas A&M.
Ben Craddock, a former Ole Miss football player, is currently the president of Craddock Oil Company and owner of the Exxon station on Highway 6 West in Oxford, which was built five months ago.
Craddock was confident that he could pressure city leaders to change the ordinance, so he built the gas station with all of the necessary coolers and equipment to serve cold beer and hired local attorney Dee Hobbs to get the law changed.
“When we built that store in Oxford, we built it basically thinking that we would change the law,” Craddock said. “We were going to challenge it to see if we could change it. From my understanding, that law had never been challenged.”
On July 23, Hobbs proposed the revision to the aldermen on behalf of Craddock.
“It’s 2013 – it’s time to get this behind Oxford, so we can move on to bigger and better things,” Hobbs said. “One of the two biggest alcohol distributors in the area has told me that this will increase every convenience store and every grocery store’s beer sales by 10-15 percent.”
Oxford Alderman Jay Hughes, a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law, had been a key board member in support of the change since it was proposed over a month ago. He believes the previous ordinance was outdated.
“To have to explain to people why beer is regulated by temperature was something that I think was rather outdated, and many people, including myself, couldn’t explain to guests why it came to be,” Hughes said.
Hughes also pushed for the change because he believes the ordinance should also serve to the benefit of the Ole Miss student body.
“I consider the students in Oxford citizens,” he said. “If they are old enough to drink they will have the right to make a choice in purchasing a legal beverage in regards to temperature. (The town) will benefit from increased revenue that goes into the coffers of the city.”
Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson does not feel this ordinance hurts the city as long as its citizens act responsible. But the new ordinance could bring up other alcohol related issues.
“There is going to be a big battle about extended bar hours and I am opposed to that,” Patterson said. “I think that does affect the character of the town. But I don’t think because of cold beer, the sky is going to fall.”
Oxford Alderman Ulysses “Coach” Howell was the only alderman who voted against the ordinance and could not be reached for a comment.
Ole Miss students voiced their opinions about the change on social media and in conversations that still continue. Most students seemed to support the change, claiming that the old law was outdated.
“I don’t think it affects the image of the town at all,” said sophomore business and economics major Mike Shannon. “I think it was a rule that nobody else in the country really knows about. So as far as the rest of the country goes in comparison, we are just falling in line with all the other states.”
Not all students support the change. Senior political science major Teresa Jones, an intern for the city of Oxford, campaigned for the mayor.
“I am not in favor of the new alcohol ordinance because I believe that it is one of many changes that will drive this beautiful small town into a different path, a path away from the traditions that make this place perfect for raising a family and growing old,” she said.