In Sept. 10 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Two petitions filed last week in the county clerk's office could lead to the Jamestown and Lake precincts going "moist" if passed by voters in a local option election.
County Clerk Lisha Popplewell said she was currently in the process of verifying signatures on the two petitions.
The petitions seek to, under state law, allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in restaurants that seat at least 100 people and derives at least 70 percent of their gross sales from food.
Popplewell said her only job with the petitions were to count and verify the signatures, then the matter would be up to Judge-Executive Mickey Garner and County Attorney Mark McGaha.
"It will take some time," she said.
She said those two would look over the petitions filed and determine whether the required minimum number of voter signatures are on the petition to call a special election.
If all is verified, it would then become Garner's duty to set an election date for the issue.
Voter registration statistics report that as of the fall 2008 election, the lake precinct had 962 voters registered while in the Jamestown precinct 941 were registered, 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.
According to state 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.
As mentioned earlier, 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.
The last alcohol vote in Russell County of any sort was nearly nine years ago, 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.
Campbellsville in Taylor County most recently joined neighboring 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 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.
Last year Campbellsville voted, and passed, an option 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.
A state 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.
Popplewell said nothing in the petitions she is working to verify contain any mention of the golf course option, only the sale of alcohol in restaurants which seat at least 100 people and obtain at least 70 percent of their sales from food.