Saturday, June 29, 2013

Faces of Lake Wedowee: Taking a Stand for Progress

There is an eclectic cast of characters that call Lake Wedowee home. Each of them have his or her own story to tell and in the coming issues we will strive to tell our readers how they have come to call Lake Wedowee home. 

Faces of Wedowee
 by Kelly Caldwell

As a lifelong resident of Randolph County, Ron Young knew real change didn't happen often, but in 2008 he made a risky decision for himself and family when he became the face of one side of the alcohol debate.
"It was something that needed to happen here," Young said. "We started a little late for the 2008 campaign but we learned a lot."
The wet-dry issue  failed to pass in 2008 by less than 400 votes, but in November of 2012 the residents of Randolph County legalized the sale of alcohol and Young was a driving force behind it.
"We felt strongly about this issue, but after the 2008 election, I didn't really want to put my neck on the line again," he said. "My family came under attack and I wasn't sure they wanted to do it again. But, no one else really wanted to step up and be the face of the issue.
"So my wife, Donna, and I talked about it at length and decided we would do it again."
Young is the first to say it was a large network of people that got the measure passed in Randolph County and it took everyone working together for progress.
"This is the first step of progress for Randolph County in a long time and we are already beginning to see the benefits of it," he said. "Change doesn't happen overnight but the wheels are definitely turning."
As broker/owner of Wedowee Lake and Lands Realty, Young knows the influx of people that come to the area each summer and call Lake Wedowee their home away from home. He always saw the alcohol issue as a business decision not a moral one.
"Alcohol has always been in this county," he said. "But now we are able to collect the tax dollars from it.
"I am not sure what the actual dollars are yet, but I can already see signs of progress because of the sale of alcohol in Randolph County.
At least four restaurants  have opened in the county since the sale of alcohol was legalized in November.
"The restaurants seem to be doing well," Young said. "But to continue to grow more progress needs to be made. This was just the first step but it was a crucial one."
As far as the arguments made that the sale of alcohol in Randolph County was going to destroy the "hometown feel" Young is quick to point out an interesting fact.
"I talked to Sheriff Cofield this week and he said there have been no driving under the influence arrests made in the county since alcohol has been sold here," he said. "I have no problem with people that are morally against alcohol. That is their choice. But, there were some scare tactics used by our opposition that have just not happened.
"I am against drinking and driving as everyone should be," he said. "And just because you can buy it here now doesn't mean that everyone that drinks is going to get behind the wheel of a car."


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