As John Meeks stood on the corner of the northwest entrance to Walmart in Graham, cars zoomed up and down Highway 16.
Some slowed down as they skirted past him and drove into or out of the store's parking lot. Some drivers honked at him. Others yelled at him. Most continued with their day without engaging.
Out in the 97 degree heat on an afternoon in early July, Meeks held a sign that read: “Plece don't vote for beer and wine. It not in God will. Just ask the kids who father or mother drink and mistreat them.”
A truck crawled past Meeks while exiting the parking lot. The driver rolled down her window and yelled, “I'm for it!”
But Meeks just smiled, and a few minutes later, a kid walked up to him and handed him a dollar and a Gatorade, both of which he accepted.
“My dad was an alcoholic,” Meeks said. “And he mistreated his family real badly. And then I became an alcoholic. And it ain't been too long, but I quit.”
The Graham resident is against a possible ballot initiative that could bring beer and alcohol sales to the city. But for Meeks' protest to move beyond just an ideological statement, several events must unfold.
First, the political action committee, Graham Wet... It's Time, needed to collect more than 1,100 signatures by July 11 to get the initiative placed on the November ballot. As of Thursday afternoon, Graham Wet representatives said they succeeded.
Next, Young County Elections Administrator Lauren Sullivan must verify that all of the signatures on the petition are valid. After that, the Young County Commissioners Court must order a November election on its August 11 agenda.
Whether or not all of that happens, Meeks is not alone is his position. Several other city officials, community leaders and residents have already stated their opposition to alcohol sales in Graham.
“I just don't think that we need to try to fix something that's not broken,” said Graham City Councilwoman Pam Scott. “The consequences could be greater than we anticipate, and I don't think it's worth the risk.”
Scott said that on top of the negative implications legal alcohol sales bring to local law enforcement, lives would be endangered and the city's character would be in jeopardy. “I don't think we know what the trickle down effect would be and how far it could go,” she said.
Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.