Montgomery still waiting for decision on alcohol vote
by Franklin Clark, Reporter --
Nov 24, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It will be at least three or four more months before the Kentucky Court of Appeals looks at whether the Montgomery precinct can vote itself dry, said Sam Givens, court clerk of the court of appeals.

Currently, the case is still in the briefing stage, briefs have been filed on behalf of both Grow Trigg, the group that spearheaded a successful attempt to repeal prohibition in Trigg County last year, and the Montgomery precinct petitioners who want to block alcohol sales in their area. The attorney for Grow Trigg has less than two weeks to file a brief in response to the brief filed by Don Thomas, attorney for the Montgomery petitioners, Givens said.

In January and February, Circuit Judge C.A. “Woody” Woodall heard from the Montgomery petitioners, represented by Donald Thomas of Benton, and from Grow Trigg, represented by W.E. “Petey” Rogers III of Hopkinsville.

Thomas’s brief, filed on Monday, Nov. 9, makes the argument that the court of appeals should affirm Woodall’s ruling.

“As this Court is well aware, there are many counties in the Commonwealth of Kentucky which are wet. However, multiple precincts within those counties are dry and they are allowed to remain dry because Kentucky law allows a particular precinct to remain dry,” Thomas said in his Nov. 9 brief.

Woodall originally ruled that an election could take place, but during a hearing involving Grow Trigg’s appeal of that ruling, decided to stay that election, and he also ruled that no new alcohol licenses were to be allowed in the Montgomery precinct until either the Kentucky Court of Appeals or Kentucky Supreme Court decided the matter.

Thomas also argued that Grow Trigg shouldn’t have been a party to the case because they have no legal standing.

Thomas argued at a Jan. 28 hearing, and Woodall ruled the morning after, that a precinct-wide election should be permitted because a precinct isn’t the same territory as a county under Kentucky state law.

Rogers has said previously that the real issue centers around the definition of a territory, something he said the Kentucky General Assembly changed years after the case Campbell v. Brewer, which he said isn’t applicable to this case because of the general assembly’s actions.

Though Campbell v. Brewer hasn’t been overruled, the legislature changed the law, which the court referred to in other cases, so the ruling in question doesn’t apply, Rogers argued.

As a result, Rogers continued, as a precinct is in the county and isn’t a separate entity, it doesn’t have any basis to stand alone, and additionally it has no government and there isn’t any reason to give it any power or authority when it comes to the sale of alcohol.

In Campbell v. Brewer, the KSC ruled in 1994 that a precinct in a wet county can have vote on the issue less than three years after county-wide vote. Roughly 90 days after it voted itself wet, there were petitions in all 16 precincts in Wolfe County.

The Maxfuel BP station on the south side of U.S. 68/Ky. 80 near Interstate 24 was the only convenience store in the Montgomery precinct to get a license to sell beer before that ruling was handed out.

Gerald White is the vice president of Max Arnold and Sons, the company that owns the Maxfuel BP in question. He said that while sales have picked up to some degree since that time, there otherwise haven’t been any major “positives or negatives” to them being able to sell beer.

Max Arnold and Sons also owns the Maxfuel convenience store across the street from the one in Montgomery precinct.
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