Voters in Greenup County will head to the polls next year to decide if alcohol sales will be allowed there again after a more than 65-year hiatus.
The local option election follows a successful petition drive to get the issue on the ballot. It was initiated in late summer by locals seeking to spur economic growth.
The election will be Jan. 22, according to Greenup County Judge-Executive Bobby Carpenter. He confirmed Wednesday afternoon the petition bore enough verified signatures to trigger a vote.
County Clerk Pat Hieneman and her staff worked to verify the signatures. Carpenter also asked for assistance from Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office to determine if signatures submitted after the original petition was turned into officials could be used. The signatures were dated and the envelope was postmarked before the petition was submitted to county officials last week. Those were counted, according to Carpenter.
In all, about 1,650 signatures of registered Greenup County voters were verified from the more than 2,600 collected. According to state law, 25 percent of voters who cast ballots in the last general election had to sign the petition to trigger an election.
“I shook 2,000 hands to get this done,” said Jeremy Bates, who spearheaded the petition drive sponsored by the loosely affiliated Greenup County Coalition for Economic Growth.
“I kind of got a reborn belief in the American way. A small group of people, if they work hard enough, they can get stuff done,” Bates said.
“I want to seal the deal and bring a couple of nice restaurants here. I want something nice for people to eat. I want to focus on business. We want to keep moving forward. It is about making this place better.”
He said the coalition will meet today to determine how to move forward during the next several months.
There has been little vocal opposition to the vote to allow alcohol sales, and to date no organized groups have come out against the issue.
County officials are pledging to remain neutral.
“I’m staying out of it and my court is staying out of it,” Carpenter said. “From here on, it is up to the voters and the public.”
If the measure passes, Carpenter said, “I’m going to ask the (state) Alcohol Beverage Control office to send someone here to help us. We’ll do this thing correctly.”
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2653.