Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Voters say no to booze in Grant Co.

Referendum goes down big in special election

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. — A move to allow the sale of alcohol in Grant County was crushed like an old beer can Tuesday by the county's voters.

        The wet/dry referendum, which would have legalized the sale of liquor, beer and wine by the drink or over the counter, was easily defeated during a special election, 3,553 votes to 1,591.

        Just under 41 percent of the voters cast ballots in a county where a typical Election Day turnout is 20 percent to 25 percent.

        In the basement of the Grant County Courthouse, a crowd of about 50 people, almost all of whom were against alcohol sales, let out a loud cheer as auctioneer Ken Kenner read the final results just before 7 p.m.

        “I knew it would go down, but it went down big,” said state Rep. Royce Adams, a Dry Ridge Democrat and Grant County native.

        From Crittenden to Corinth, voters soundly rejected the referendum, beating the issue in all 17 of the county's voting precincts.

        A campaign orchestrated by churches from across the county played a major role in defeating the so-called wet/dry issue, Mr. Adams said.

        “This should send a message to the proponents of legal alcohol sales,” said the Rev. Terry Peer, pastor of Sherman Church of Christ, which at nearly 400 members is the county's largest church.

        “The people in this community will band together for something they believe in. They will work together, and they will come out on Election Day,” the Rev. Mr. Peer said.

        Proponents of the measure put the issue on the ballot by collecting more than 800 signatures of registered voters. Tuesday's vote marks the second time in 15 years that the county's residents have rejected the sale of alcohol.

        Under a state law that went into effect two weeks ago, the issue's proponents could begin another petition drive to legalize the sale of alcoholic beverages in one of the county's cities as long as the drinks are sold in a restaurant that seats at least 100 people.

        But there was no indication that will happen or is even being considered.

        “If that happens, we'll mobilize again and we'll win again,” the Rev. Mr. Peer said.

        Those pushing the issue, a group called Freedom of Choice, kept a low profile. The group did not return phone calls to reporters and did very little campaigning.


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