Locals vote to permit alcohol sales in historically 'dry' town

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ONEIDA, Ill. (KWQC) - The town of Oneida has been dry since the 1930s. But voters on Tuesday decided to change that.

Ballots show that nearly 80% of voters said yes to lifting the towns dry spell.

It was a part of the town's history that had not been challenged in the past. Now residents want to see a convenience store in Oneida.

Residents in Oneida hold the memory of a convenience store that shut down nearly three years ago.

"I remember when we did have the gas station," says Mike Alden, a resident of Oneida. "I would send my son or daughter up here to get milk, go do this go do that."

Some believe the towns prohibition of alcohol sale is to blame for the failed business.

"I think a lot of people that go to buy alcohol go to Wataga, or Altona anyway since that's where they have to go. So they're buying their other goods and products there as well," says Jessica McEwen, a resident of Oneida.

But for some residents its inconvenient to travel 4 miles out of town to the nearest shops, especially the elderly community in the area.

Mayor Larry Lawson says the vote to approve the sale of alcohol is about more than lifting the towns dry spell. Oneida sees it as an investment to the town.

"Sales tax and a little bit of fee money for having a license can always be used on infrastructure in a small town."

Now the people in Oneida are hopeful that someone will step up to restore the convenience store.

"I would have to go in there to support my local business," says McEwen. I support most of the local business here in town."