For several decades, legalization of alcohol has been a debatable subject in several counties of Kentucky, largely a dry state. The supporters of legalization of alcohol believe that liquor sale will provide a major boost to the job sector, tourism, and the overall growth of the county. The opponents, on the other hand, are concerned about a string of problems that might arise following the legalization of alcohol sale such as, binge drinking and intoxication, underage driving, drunk driving, criminal activities, family problems, and the likes.
These conflicting views manifested themselves in votes, when the registered voters of Clinton County, Allen County, Hartford city in Ohio County, and Smiths Grove in Warren County finally established the dry/wet regions.
On January 24, 2017, the residents of Clinton County got to determine if alcohol sale would be legalized for the first time ever. The registered voters got to exercise this right after months of unofficial campaigning amid divisiveness among local residents.
Leon Denny, owner of Denny Marine, supported the legalization of alcohol sale stating that the sale of alcohol would facilitate tourism and hence revenue generation benefitting the overall community. Conversely, Bobby Sawyer, Pastor of Clear Fork Baptist Church and some other residents were against this initiative. They firmly believed that legalization of alcohol sale would not add much to the revenue. They also felt that alcohol consumption is immoral as it caused a lot of problems in a family.
Had Clinton County opted for alcohol sale, four packaged stores would have been needed to cater to its population. However, the majority of voters voted against alcohol sale, ensuring that the county remains dry. The move was defeated by nearly 1,000 votes with only 1,288 voters supporting the sale of alcohol.
Tuesday’s voting marked the termination of a petition that started in the summer of 2015 for facilitating wet/dry elections in Allen County. Even though the initial petition invited a huge number of signatures, it was nevertheless dropped by Johnny Hobdy, Allen County Judge-Executive, citing an inevitable requirement of printed and signed signatures of the voters.
Subsequently in 2016, Hobdy certified a second petition for which voting was carried out. While 2,296 voters were in support of alcohol sale, 2,908 voted against it, ensuring that Allen County remained dry. Russell Mills from Concerned Citizens of Allen County expressed great relief over this development.
As in Clinton County, Allen County also had ardent supporters of alcohol legalization, who tried to persuade voters to vote to make it wet, as that might create a spur in business opportunities.
Along with Clinton County and Allen County, Todd County, Hartford city in Ohio County and Smiths Grove in Warren County also witnessed ballot to decide whether they should be wet or dry. While one county voted to remain dry, the other two voted for the legalization of alcohol sale.
Todd County has a total pool of 80 registered voters. Of these, 51 residents voted in support of remaining dry, whereas only 29 voters supported the authorization of alcohol sale.
On the other hand, the city of Hartford in Ohio County and the city of Smiths Grove in Warren County, voted in the favor of alcohol sale. As many as 280 and 145 voters of Hartford and Smiths Grove respectively voted favorably making alcohol sales legal in both these cities.
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