Raise your hand if you were stunned by Tuesday’s referendum results.
In the days leading up to this week’s historic vote, a lot of the conversations I had been in revolved around the question, “What do you think is going to happen?”
Honestly, I figured the liquor by the drink referendum would pass by a 3 to 2 ratio in Springfield. The county and Rincon? That I didn’t know.
As the vote got nearer and nearer, I figured it would be 50-50 in both the county and Rincon, with the yes maybe getting as much as 55 percent of the votes.
I didn’t judge that by the number and tone of the letters to the editor. I figured the number of houses with signs advocating either position was probably a better indicator. It turned out not to be.
As overwhelming as the county numbers were — and the nearly 50 percent turnout was not altogether surprising but was refreshing — the Rincon figures were a complete shock.
When I talked to Charlie Kea after the election, he was confident about the results because of the polling they had done.
“It just verified what we found in the original petition drive,” he said.
I asked someone else if they were taken by surprise by the Rincon results and they said no. What they had learned is Rincon was trending to be a younger populace, so the overwhelming yes vote didn’t surprise them.
I talked to Kea before the vote last week and he said he was hopeful the passing of the referendum wouldn’t just mean more choices in restaurants but could mean something else — movie theaters. With the restaurants in place, and with the community continuing to grow, maybe movie theaters will take a look at Effingham.
As it stands, if you want to watch a movie, you have to head into Savannah or Bluffton, and it’s a good 30 minutes or more, just from Rincon, for a movie. You can go to Statesboro, but that’s at least 45 minutes away.
When I grew up in Hinesville, it was the Brice Cinema City, two screens inside and a drive-in. Eventually, the theater aged and not gracefully — instead of replacing the screens, they just stretched duct tape across the bottom.
We learned that even though it was a five-minute walk to the movies, we’d rather drive 45 minutes to the Abercorn or Tara cinemas. We could package the trip to the movies with a stop at Spanky’s or The Mill or something like that. We especially loved the big screen at the Tara.
Now, not more than a stone’s throw from the old neighborhood, is a Ruby Tuesday and a modern cineplex. There’s a Chili’s not too far away either.
Hinesville has liquor by the drink and has had it for a while. Will that happen here, will the restaurants start moving in in a few months, with other attractions to follow? The county’s population continues to inch toward the magic number of 50,000.
If the businesses draw their radii to include Port Wentworth and west Chatham, it may be enough, especially before they start to look more seriously at the I-95/Highway 21 interchange.
We saw that this was an issue that people cared about, deeply, on both sides.It would be nice if the same turnout the referendum drew could take part for the upcoming elections, such as the July primaries and the November general elections.