Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON – The Marshall County Fiscal Court will be asked to consider a proposed date for a local option election to decide if the county remains dry or allows the sale of alcohol. Judge Executive Mike Miller confirmed Monday that he will ask the court to consider July 17, which coincides with a similar vote in the city of Murray. Miller said as both governments utilize Harp Election Services, it could help lessen the county’s expense, which is expected to be close to $30,000.
“We’re hoping that will save a little money,” Miller said. “We’ve got to have it so many days after the May election and this and within the 60 to 90-day time frame. We really have no choice in whether or not this goes on the ballot since the petition has been ratified.”
Marshal 1st members submitted nearly 2,500 signed petitions to County Clerk Tim York last week, more than the 2,100 it needed to present the issue to voters. Following state statutes, the county is now required to set the date.
Marshall 1st has been meeting for several months to gauge interest and raise support for the proposed county-wide prohibition repeal. The group has also been vocal about utilizing county-wide alcohol sales to increase tourism and the count’-s tax base.
“It has nothing to do with alcohol,” said spokeswoman Sissy Wommack. “It’s the economy. It’s our economic growth. One of the things we find when companies look at our county, one of the first questions they ask is ‘are you wet or dry.’ They keep trucking when they find out we’re dry. We’re losing our kids to everywhere. They have to go to make a living. We’ve got to keep our future here.”
While the group is advocating liquor sales, Wommack said they are opposed to bars or clubs which only sell alcohol by the drink. Wommack said the group would like to see package liquor sales and by-the-drink sales in restaurants.
That decision may be out of hands of locals.
If prohibition is repealed county-wide, the manner of sales will be left up to the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. On Monday, Miller said the county would not be able to prohibit bars.
“I asked county attorney Jeff Edwards if we could regulate by ordinance if there was an open bar,” Miller said. “It’s my understanding, we cannot. What will be allowed will be at the discretion of ABC.”
Whatever the outcome of the vote, Miller said he is hopeful things continue to remain civil.
“I’ve heard both sides speak on it,” Miller said. “A lot of the people who have moved here over the years were used to having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner where they came from.I just hope everyone understands when this is over that we have all got to live together.”
The fiscal court will meet again April 17, where it is expected to consider the July 17 date.