Dry town sees wet movement

ARGYLE — A grassroots group of concerned citizens aims to make this dry town in Washington County wet again.

“We feel, as a group and community, that revenue for the town is an issue. We want to get the question of licenses for the sale of alcohol on the ballot in November,” said Jason Lloyd, organizer of the Repeal Argyle Prohibition Committee. “The other counties get a percentage of the beverage tax (New York’s excise tax on alcoholic beverages) based on sales. Argyle has received exactly zero.”

The committee is circulating petitions calling for a “Wet Town Now,” in hopes of securing the required 353 signatures of registered Argyle voters by the end of the summer to get the referendum on the ballot.

“In the 1930s, Argyle voted to remain dry. There was a large temperance movement here,” said Lloyd, about the town remaining dry after Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

Argyle is one of eight New York towns that remained dry after the U.S. Congress voted in 1933 to allow the manufacture and sale of alcohol, ending 13 years of Prohibition.

Since then, Argyle has held votes to change that early decision in 1936, 1941, 1947, 1950, 1955, 1968, 1970, 1977, 1989 and 2000. But the town voted each time to stay dry.

“The town is divided on the issue,” Argyle Supervisor Bob Henke said on Tuesday, adding that he initially gave the committee the information about how to get a referendum on the November ballot. “I remember a half a dozen times where it lost pretty soundly. But there seems to be a different approach this time.”