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Beer referendum may reverse Sparta's dry city status

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SPARTA, Wis. (WXOW) -A brewski...a cold one...a libation...whatever you call it, beer is a Wisconsin staple.

But the sale of beer is currently banned in the city of Sparta. That ban may soon be reversed if an April referendum passes.

For the last 50 years, Sparta has been a dry city.

If you want to buy beer you have to drive out of the city limits to get it.

Tom Eddy has owned Westside Wine & Spirits for six years. They're located on Highway 16 just outside of the city.

Beer sales result in almost 50% of their revenue. Eddy says the referendum passing would be devastating to his business.

He says "When I bought this store the law was you had to be outside the city limits, so you take that in mind when you make the investment in the community so it'd be a big change."

This is the 5th time since 2005 that voters have been asked to reverse the ban.

This year, unlike in previous years, it asks to sell only beer and wine, not other types of alcohol.

In 2011 the referendum failed to pass by just 60 votes.

Hansen's IGA is a grocery store in the city of Sparta. Co-Owner Nick Hansen says customers who want to buy alcohol while they shop for groceries will travel to La Crosse or Onalaska instead of staying in Sparta.

Hansen says "We feel that this will be a benefit to our business to be able to serve our customers, and I think everybody should have that ability to serve their customers."

If the referendum passes, it would be about two months until residents can buy beer in the city.

Residents will vote on that referendum on April 1st.

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