Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 14, 2012

Carter wet-dry petition revised

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

GRAYSON — The organizer of a petition drive to hold a wet-dry election in Grayson on Tuesday submitted a revised petition to the Carter County Clerk’s Office.

Keith Bays said he did so out of abundance of caution.

The previous petition Bays turned in earlier this month called for the election to be on Jan. 12, a Saturday. After submitting it, Bays said he learned state law required all elections to be held on Tuesday. So, he collected signatures on a new one specifying a Jan. 15 local option vote in the North Midland Trail voting precinct.

“I just wanted to go ahead and do it so if there was a problem, I wouldn’t have to throw the whole thing out and start over again,” he said.

Also, Bays said he had gathered more signatures than last time due to last week’s presidential election. Under Kentucky law, the signatures of 25 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the most recent presidential election are required to trigger a wet-dry referendum.

Bays’ previous petition contained 44 signatures, 11 more than the 33 needed to fulfill the 25 percent requirement. For the new one, he said he needed 72 signatures and collected 93.

Bays said he had no problem getting enough signatures and collected them over a three-day period. The signatures must still be verified by the clerk’s office.

The North Midland Trail precinct runs parallel to Carol Malone Boulevard and includes a large flat area of land bordering the eastbound lanes of Interstate 64. Bays said previously that one of the reasons he decided to seek the wet-dry election was people who’d tried to develop the property had told him the lack of legal alcohol sales was a major impediment to attracting national restaurant chains.

Currently, the Rock Springs Winery near Carter City is the only place in Carter County where alcohol may be bought and sold legally.

If Bays’ petition contains enough verified signatures to trigger a vote, it will be one of two special referendums on alcohol sales to take place in the region in January. Voters in Greenup County will head to the polls Jan. 22 to decide if alcohol sales should be allowed there again after a more than 65-year hiatus.

The local option election in Greenup 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.  About 1,650 signatures of registered Greenup County voters were verified from the more than 2,600 collected.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.