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New alcohol petition surfaces

Less than two weeks after the General Election, a petition calling for a countywide vote on the possibility of alcohol sales in McCreary County is already circulating and could be turned in to County Clerk Eric Haynes’ office very soon– setting in motion the process of a special election to be held within the next two months.

The petition calls for a special election to determine if alcohol sales would be allowed in the County.

With only 2,118 votes cast countywide in last Tuesday’s General Election, a petition to have a special election on the alcohol question would only need 530 verified signatures – 25 percent of the vote in the last General Election.

Once the petition is turned in to the Clerk’s Office and all signatures verified, Judge Executive Doug Stephens would have to call for a special election no sooner than 60 days after the filing, but no later than 90 days past that date.

With that timeline, if the petition is turned in within the next week and all signatories are verified as registered voters in the county, the election would possibly fall between January 18 through February 15 2016.

The potential vote would determine if beer, wine and possibly spirits could be sold at locations that meet licensing requirements, and also allow restaurants with sufficient seating and derive a majority of its income from food sales to serve by the drink.

Scottie Morrow was a driving force behind the successful petition drive that garnered enough signatures to have an election in August of 2012.

That special election saw the fifth highest voter turnout in the previous 12 years as nearly 5,000 voters cast ballots on the issue.

When the final numbers were tallied, “No” supporters won the day, edging out “Yes” voters by only 47 votes, one percent of the total votes cast.

Morrow filed a lawsuit challenging the outcome of the election, claiming improper procedures during the vote, but the case still remains unresolved.

Morrow thinks this petition will be successful as well, and the subsequent election will have a different result.

“People see the money we are losing,” he said. “It is not just about selling alcohol, it is about the revenue we are missing out on. Alcohol sales are all around us. Scott County and Winfield have sold for years; then Burnside and Somerset became wet. Even Whitley County allows by the drink sales in some restaurants and Wayne County voters approved a winery.”

That aspect of how any revenues would be distributed will be up to a local ABC Board to decide, as well as what the tax will be on sales in the county.

The petition should have an easier time getting completed this year, with the small voter turnout in Tuesday’s General Election. The last petition needed about 1,300 verified voters, but the latest would need even fewer.

The latest petition comes just months after the last attempt to get a special election called fell short.

Over 2,000 signatures were turned in to County Clerk Eric Haynes’ Office earlier this year, but several names were disqualified for not meeting the requirements to be considered a valid signature.

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