County-wide alcohol referendum set for Sept. 29
by Justin McGill, Executive Editor - jmcgill@cadizrecord.com, and Franklin Clark -- fclark@cadizrecord.com
Jul 29, 2009 | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Citizens of Trigg County will have the opportunity to vote on ending prohibition and allowing alcohol sales in the county during a Sept. 29 local-option election, Judge-Executive Stan Humphries said Thursday.

According to an Executive Order issued by Humphries, the proposition on the election ballot will ask “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Trigg County, Kentucky?” The election will be held in all county precincts.

Grow Trigg, a local organization in favor of repealing prohibition in the county, submitted a petition on July 13 to County Clerk Wanda Thomas. The petition contained 1,911 signatures (1,851 turned in July 13 and 60 added before the count was complete, Grow Trigg vice president Jan Culwell said), 1,679 of which were valid, Humphries said. The petition needed 1,655 valid signatures to succeed.

Humphries said Thomas and her staff “counted, recounted and double-counted” the signatures to verify the final number, adding a question posed by the Trigg Citizens Against Alcohol led to the need for additional research on some of the signatures.

“They had a question about the timing of some of the dates of [voter] registration and petitions being turned in,” Humphries said. “Those were looked over, and several of them were actually taken out, but [Thomas’ staff] feel confident and I agree that the number is true and accurate to the best of our ability to count them. They have enough signatures to proceed with the referendum.”

The petition is now subject to open-records requests at the Clerk’s Office. TCAA members and supporters have said recently that they would seek legal counsel on ways to challenge the petition.

“They may find that there is something that they feel strongly about that may be a problem,” Humphries said. “The Clerk’s Office went through those hundreds of pages several times, and they feel comfortable that the signatures are there. It was not done just off a computer, they were hand-checked. All due diligence has been done from the Clerk’s Office, and it looks to be in order.”

A similar effort to make alcohol sales legal in one precinct of Cadiz last year ended when a group in opposition to the referendum succeeded in a legal challenge. Humphries said that situation had an effect on the county’s process of checking this year’s petition.

“We wanted to make sure, to the best of our understanding, that there’s no problem with it after what happened before,” Humphries said. “It was very heavily scrutinized on our end to make sure a similar situation would not occur again.”

Sarah Johnson, executive director of the State Board of Elections, said a county-wide referendum similar to this one cannot be brought to a vote again for another three years.

Thomas said voter registration books will close Tuesday, Sept. 1 and will not reopen until Monday, Oct. 5, meaning the last day to register and be eligible to vote in the Sept. 29 election is Monday, Aug. 31.

“We are excited and anxious to make plans for the election,” Culwell said.

Culwell said Trigg County’s demographics have changed in the past 30 years, and many who moved in to the area, and many who live here that were born here think alcohol prohibition is a hindrance to economic growth.

“Nobody wants to change the culture, we just want to change the economy,” Culwell said.

In a statement released Friday, Ronnie Sadler of Trigg Citizens Against Alcohol said that although the group believes many of the signatures are invalid and that the petition would be thrown out “in a court of law,” the group won’t pursue that option and will let the issue come to a vote, which he said will show that many in this county oppose alcohol.

Archie Brock of TCAA said those in the group “weren’t too surprised” that the petition was declared valid.

The TCAA’s committees will be meeting “to develop strategies that continue to expose the unhealthy outcomes that are always consistent with alcohol sales no matter where that takes place,” Sadler said.

The anti-alcohol group will draw volunteers from the county who oppose the sale of alcohol “and are ready and willing to take ownership of the effort to keep our community safe and family-friendly,” Sadler added.

TCAA Chairman Bob McIntosh said more specific plans will be made when the group meets at 7 p.m. Thursday at Calvary Baptist Church on Rockcastle Road, and declined further comment.
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