Citizens seek wet/dry vote


For months now there has been speculation on whether or not a petition for the sale of alcohol in Barbourville would actually be filed.

The wait is almost over.

A petition to hold a special local election for the sale of alcohol in Barbourville was filed Monday with the county clerk. The petition asks for the election to be held Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in the courthouse.

There will only be one question on the ballot, and that question will be “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Barbourville?”

The petition specifically asks for alcohol sales in Barbourville; therefore, only registered voters who live inside the Barbourville city limits will be allowed to vote in this particular election.

Bob Dunaway, who submitted the signatures, says the petition is about so much more than the right to have a glass of wine with dinner.

“It’s about jobs,” said Dunaway. “It’s about revenue and progress and a better and brighter future for our kids. We have a viable workforce here, but we have a deficiency in jobs for our young people. We’ve got to change how we think to make this a more business-friendly town. We’ve suffered great losses in the past, and now is our chance to improve our economic status.”

Dunaway compared Barbourville’s current economic situation to that of neighboring Corbin, of which has had alcohol sales for years.

“I’m against Sunday sales,” he said, “but Corbin has done very well since allowing alcohol sales. We can learn from our neighbors.”

Before a vote can be held, the signatures still need to be verified. The petition is currently on file in the judge executive’s office. If the petition is certified, then a vote will be scheduled.

“Now that the petition has been officially filed,” said Judge Executive J.M. Hall, “it is a matter of public record, and anyone is welcome to come and check the signatures.”

Knox County is charged with funding the election, and from looking at the numbers from the last special alcohol election, Knox County Treasurer Johnny Tye says the cost to the county will be around $10,000.

Regardless of when and where the election will ultimately take place, Knox County Clerk Mike Corey says he will run the election as he would any other.

“If there is a local option election in January,” said Corey, “we will follow the same criteria used in any primary or general election.

Barbourville Mayor Thompson says he and his staff will walk the line on the issue of alcohol, regardless of the outcome of the election.

“I believe I can speak for both myself and the city council,” said Mayor David Thompson. “We’ll respect both sides of the vote, though we’re the ones who will deal with the process, same as last time. At the end of the day, it’s the voters’ decision.”