A petition was launched last April in Middlesboro to put the “moist vote” on the ballot. Due to an error the petition was voided.
The petition had met substantial compliance but cited the Kentucky Revised Statute KRS 242.185 (6) — which requires restaurants to seat at least 100 patrons, and derive at least 70 percent of their total sales from food — to be allowed to serve alcohol by the drink. This statute had been changed and thus was not the correct one to cite.
The new statute, KRS 242.1244 section 2 was applied to a new petition.
Everyone who signed the first petition received a letter in the mail with a new petition to sign and a pre-paid return envelope. Local businesses in support of the moist vote also hosted the petition for new signatures.
The signatures of 775 citizens are required to put the issue on the ballot. This is based on 25 percent of citizens who voted in the last election within city limits. All signers must be registered voters within the city limits to be eligible. A total of 933 signatures had been gathered the first time around, and over 800 this time.
“Many of the original signers signed again, but many new signatures were gained. In all around 1400 signatures were acquired,” said Jennifer Tyler, chairperson of the petition drive. “There is a lot of support — this is revitalization. Something is needed to boost this local economy. It would be good for tourism, and a lot of corporate entities will not locate to areas that do not allow alcohol sales.”
The petition was accepted and the election will be held Sept. 15.
“I’m disappointed,” said local resident Mike Marcum. “I think our public officials ought to be this involved in getting jobs to the area. It’s not being dry that keeps the businesses away it’s the 2 percent occupational tax and other taxes on businesses that keep them away. If it passes I’ll live with it — let the people vote on it, but I hope it don’t pass.”
The last time an effort like this was made in the area was in the 1960s and it did not have the option of moist, only full wet. Twenty-eight other cities and three counties have voted in recent years to approve “moist” sales of alcohol, including Pineville in 2005.
More information on this petition and voting can be found on Facebook at Middlesboro Petition Drive.
Reach William Tribell at (606) 302-9100 or on Twitter @wtribellmdn