Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON – For a group of Marshall County residents, alcoholic beverage sales are a simple matter of economics and growth. Repealing prohibition, they say, is a way to make dollars already being spent on alcohol sales stay in the county.
The 40 to 50 regular members of Marshall “1st” are hoping to repeal prohibition with a special election. If they can garner the 2,100 signatures required by state law, the county will hold a special election sometime around September to decide whether or not it wants county-wide alcohol sales.
“You’re not going to make anybody drink if they don’t want to and you’re not going to keep anybody who drinks from drinking,” said Sissy Wommack, the group’s spokesperson. “Alcohol is already here, it’s just here illegally. We want to make it legal where we can get the tax money off it.”
Wommack, who has been involved in the county’s real estate and development, said alcohol sales would attract new businesses and retain workers, as well as help keep existing doors open. Tax revenue generated from the sales would remain local.
The group points to neighboring counties who have continued to experience growth in recent years despite the national economic downturn.
“Lyon County has brought in two big businesses because of them going moist,” Wommack said. “Trigg County just went wet in the last couple of years. It was fought pretty heavily. We understand people’s thought process, but we have done a lot of research and found in counties that went wet, their DUIs are down, spouse abuse is down.”
Wommack said she choses not to drink, but she supports the decision for county liquor sales.
“I’m a teetotaler,” Wommack said. “It has nothing to do with alcohol. 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.”
Randy Newcomb, Executive Director for the Marshall County Tourist Commission, said that sentiment isn’t just restricted to businesses looking to locate. He hears similar reactions by vacationers.
“One of the most common questions we get from guests to our area is ‘where can I have a drink? Where can we buy alcohol?’ and we have to send them to another county,” Newcomb said. “From my standpoint, anything we can do to make ourselves more attractive to visitors we are for. Whether it’s the legalization of alcohol sales, a new bridge or a brand new attraction like the new zip line at Kentucky Shores. This would give us another option for our potential visitors.”
More on the story in Tuesday's Tribune-Courier