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Stearns alcohol sales on ballot

By: Greg Bird

A petition, asking for the referendum to be placed on the ballot has been circulating in Stearns for less than two months, was turned into McCreary County Judge Executive Doug Stephens last week, then forwarded on to County Clerk Eric Haynes to verify the signatures on the ballot.

Haynes stated a total of 142 qualified signatures were verified, more than the 125 needed to put the measure on the ballot this fall.

The question to appear on the ballot is simple: “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverage by the drink in qualified historic sites in the Stearns voting precinct?”

If passed, it would allow for alcohol sales by the drink only in certain places in Stearns, due to the special nature of state laws.

The Stearns Administrative and Commercial District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places is defined as 4 acres of land and six buildings, which constitutes Downtown Stearns only.

Alcohol sales would not just apply to a potential restaurant opening again in the downtown district, but could also allow for sale of alcohol by the drink at events or festivals.

The Big South Fork Scenic Railway saw great success this past summer with two special train rides, the Moonshine Limited. The ride offered a meal and train ride to coincide with the Moonbow sightings at Cumberland Falls.

The Kentucky Revised Statute (242.1242) which allows for a public vote in historic districts reads: “To promote economic development and tourism in any dry or moist county or city in which a qualified historic site is located, a local option election for the limited sales of alcoholic beverages by the drink may be held in the precinct of the county where the qualified historic site is located, notwithstanding any other provision of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.”

If passed, a separate referendum for allowing alcohol sales at Stearns Golf Course could possibly follow in the future. State laws allow limited sales at golf courses in a county or precinct that is either moist or wet.

A county-wide alcohol vote cannot be held again in McCreary County until next August, three years after the last vote was held. That vote saw the measure fail by one percent.

Judge Stephens said Becki Egnew was one of the individuals who turned in the petition calling for the vote.

Egnew stated the petition was presented on behalf of the Stearns Economic Development Council, a group of citizens who want to see progress in the community.

“This is from a group of people who live or work in Stearns who are concerned about our economic future,” she said. “They see this as an opportunity for economic development.”

Egnew, who also serves as Treasurer/Secretary with the Heritage Foundation stated the foundation has no involvement with the petition.

Former Judge Executive candidate and advocate for alcohol sales in McCreary County Scottie Morrow has been circulating similar petitions for alcohol sales in Stearns and other voting precincts, but is not directly involved with the petition turned in last week.

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