Hyde Park • For the first time since its founding by Mormon settlers in 1860, a small city in northern Utah is allowing alcohol sales.
Hyde Park's only convenience store began selling beer on Thursday, some two weeks after a ballot measure lifting a ban on alcohol sales passed with 64 percent of the vote.
Maverik store manager Tiffany Dehek told KUTV-TV that all she's had is positive feedback since its shelves were stocked with Coors and Budweiser this week.
She said she hopes to make 24 percent of the store's sales from beer, but word about the lifting of the alcohol ban has not reached all residents.
"I think many people don't know about it yet. It's only been a few days" since the ban was lifted, she said.
The store sells only beer with 3.2 percent alcohol by weight, the maximum allowed in Utah in non-state-run liquor stores. Residents who want liquor or wine will still have to drive to a state liquor store about 5 miles away in Logan.
Hyde Park, with a population of 4,000, was among a handful of dry cities left in a state known for its teetotaling ways. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches its members to abstain from alcohol, a belief that has led to the state having famously strict liquor laws.
The proposal divided the conservative, mostly Mormon town, with some City Council members arguing that the town shouldn't allow the sale of any "mind-altering" substances.
Backers said lifting the ban wouldn't corrupt the city's children and would bring in more sales tax revenue.
"I don't drink alcohol, but if it could help generate revenue and help with property taxes, I'm all for it," resident Kevin Wheatley told KUTV.
Jim Olsen, president of the Utah Beer Wholesaler Association, estimates there are only about five or six dry towns left in Utah down from about 12 two decades ago.