In June 26 - July 2 issue By Derek Aaron Times Journal Reporter
JAMESTOWN - An alcohol "petition" — of sorts — has been circulating throughout Jamestown in hopes to obtain enough signatures from Jamestown's eligible voters to garner a "moist" vote being placed on a future ballot, according to George Alford, owner of The Meeting Place restaurant and the upcoming Jamestown Center.
"We need it bad," Alford said of alcohol sales in Jamestown's restaurants. "This town is never going to grow if we don't do something about it."
He said he had approximately 30 people sign the petition just in his restaurant, but it is not known whether they are voters from precincts in the Jamestown area.
Jamestown Mayor Brooks Bates said he didn't have an opinion on the issue rather he said it would be solely up to Jamestown's citizens to decide.
City Clerk Kim Weston, who had spoken to Burnside officials, said the "moist" city of Burnside in Pulaski County collects a 6 percent alcohol restaurant tax which goes directly to the city for dispersal. The city collects a 3 percent restaurant tax on food only that goes directly to the city's newly established tourism commission.
Bates did acknowledge that the realization of a "moist" vote in Jamestown's future is a real possibility.
At Guthrie's on the Square, the view seems to be focused more on a "moist" issue as well.
"I would be for (going moist) and I think the biggest benefit would be for the city of Jamestown," said Billy Guthrie, co-owner, along with his wife, Angelique, of the restaurant.
"I think the issues with small budgets and funding problems would benefit from (a vote), in addition to that it would just bring more jobs, businesses and tourists to Jamestown," Guthrie said.
Guthrie said a "moist" vote would allow him to raise prices which would lead to more tax revenue for both the city of Jamestown and Russell County.
"My only fear is that all the other surrounding counties will become moist and this will be the last one that isn't and people will forget about us," Guthrie said.
At The Meeting Place, Alford echoed those same sentiments.
"If this place isn't careful, it's just going to become a hole in the wall," he said. "(Going moist) would give people a choice."
Alford said that people had a choice as to whether or not they attended church and said they should have the same choice when it comes to drinking alcohol with a meal, or choosing not to.
"I certainly don't want drunks out there," he said. "I would make sure that when people left, they weren't leaving drunk."
Alford said that alcohol is transported here by the trunk load from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan tourists anyway.
He said he believes if a "moist" election were to be held in Jamestown that it stood a good chance of passing this time around.
"I believe there are enough new people here," he said. "That's for sure."
Alford said that several months back someone had distributed the petition sheets at various locations throughout Jamestown, including his restaurant, and others.
Another Jamestown restaurant, the Jamestown Cafe, declined to comment on the issue. The Kentucky State Board of Election's voter registration statistics report that as of June 16, the lake precinct has 227 Democrats, 701 Republicans and 29 "other" voters registered while in the Jamestown precinct 244 Democrats, 679 Republicans and 24 "other" are registered voters.
Court Clerk Lisha Popplewell said that last November's general election saw 353 voters from the lake precinct head to the polls. That's a 37 percent voter turnout, according to Popplewell.
For a local option election petition question to be placed on the ballot, at least 25 percent of registered voters who voted in the last general election must sign their name to the petition. So, of the 353 lake precinct voters, Popplewell said 89 of them must sign a petition for an local option alcohol election before it can be placed on a ballot, and it must only be on the ballot for that precinct.
According to Kentucky's election laws, a petition for a local option election may consist of one or more separate "units" and should be filed with the county clerk for validity.
The law also states that no person who signs the petition may withdraw their name from it after it has been filed with the clerk and no petition must be circulated for more than six months prior to its filing.
After a petition for election has been filed and verified, the county judge-executive must direct an election to be held in that territory, according to state law.
A law that could one day affect Jamestown's lake precinct is a Kentucky election law that states a local option election can be held for the limited sale of alcoholic beverages in precinct's containing nine or 18-hole golf courses, much like the lake precinct's The Links at Lily Creek Resort.
The law reads that, upon approval of the proposition, the Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control may issue a license to the golf course for the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink. But, the law says that no alcoholic beverage license shall be issued to any applicant within the precinct except the golf course named in the proposition.
The last alcohol vote in Russell County of any sort was in November 2000, when Jamestown voters chose to remain dry by a total vote of 362-242 against the sale of alcohol in restaurants that seat 100 people and derive 70 percent of their profit from food, according to county records.
At that time, the lake precinct in Jamestown had 99 votes for the sale of alcohol while 137 voters said no to the proposed change. In the Jamestown precinct, 125 voters chose yes to the sale of alcohol against 205 people who chose no.
In absentee voting, 18 people voted for the sale of alcoholic beverages while 20 voted no on the ballot.
Nearby Campbellsville most recently joined Burnside, Danville, London, Corbin, Glasgow and Cave City in nearby cities that have gone "moist" and began allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages in larger restaurants.
In Kentucky, two different statutes allow any dry county or a city located in a dry county to vote to authorize limited sales of alcoholic beverages by the drink in restaurants, according to the Kentucky Revised Statutes.
Both of these statutes require that restaurants make at least 70 percent of their money from food sales. One statute requires that the restaurant seat at least 100 persons while the other, signed into law just one year ago, requires only 50 seats in the restaurant, but prohibits alcohol-licensed restaurants from having an open bar and requires that the alcohol must be sold with food.
Once a jurisdiction votes for such sales, restaurants that qualify can then apply for an alcohol permit.
Just last month, Campbellsville voted, and passed, to allow restaurants that seat at least 50 people and obtains at least 70 percent of their revenue from food to serve alcohol by the drink, with alcohol only being served in conjunction with a meal.
As of early this week four Campbellsville residents, through Lebanon attorney Rob Spragens, filed a petition contesting the local option election and are hoping to reverse the alcohol vote, according to media reports.
The lawsuit hopes to void the election's results based on the wording of the question where some of the first ballots did not include a phrase reading that alcohol be served only with a meal. Some residents voted on the incomplete question by absentee ballot before it was corrected, according to these reports.
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