Vote on liquor by the drink in Harrodsburg sought

September 04, 2003|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - The organization supporting liquor by the drink in this city quietly turned in on Tuesday afternoon what it hopes are the necessary signatures to get the question on the November ballot. Today was the deadline.

Phillip Crump, the group's chairman, said today that 1,009 signatures appear on petitions turned into Mercer County Clerk Bruce Harper's office. Only 626 certified signatures are required, 25 percent of the registered voters who voted in the last election.

"Once they are approved, we'll work toward getting people out to vote," Crump said today. "The governor's race will help. We're not going to sling any mud and I hope the other side won't."

An advertisement appeared in newspapers last month, paid for by the organization against the question, that said the names of the people who signed petitions may be published.


Crump said he didn't know if that would happen, but he noted, as the advertisement did, that the names are public record and therefore can be published. The advertisement also charged that signatures on previous petitions were from people who could not or would not vote and there had been duplicate signatures.

Earlier this year, Deputy Mercer County Clerk Gayle Johnson said that through a new computer program she can more easily check for duplicates. Harper said the method used to collect the signatures also will make it easier to certify.

When supporters gathered signatures for the last election, it was done with one signature per sheet. This year's petitions are 10 to a sheet, Harper said, making them easier to check. "I think they were more structured than they have been in the past." Signatures were gathered this year by supporters going door-to-door.

"We're just in the process of certifying everybody's name, address and signatures. Then it will go on the ballot." Harper said he hopes the certification process will be completed Friday.

Crump said that if the necessary number of signatures are certified, then his group will advertise shortly before the election, urging people to get out to vote.

"Don't vote your heart; vote the economy."

In addition to giving a boost to restaurants in the city which can seat at least 100 people and which gain 70 percent of their income from food, Crump says that if the measure is approved in Harrodsburg, it will mean more money being spent in Harrodsburg, which could be translated into more downtown development, increased tourism and more jobs.

The vote last year covered the entire county, but city voters had a narrow margin of less than 70 votes against the question. That has given hope to organizers for liquor by the drink. This is the fourth time voters here have had an opportunity to vote for alcohol sales.

The first time was for sales of alcohol in package stores. The General Assembly passed a bill in the 2000 session giving cities and counties the opportunity to vote just for liquor by the drink in restaurants. This will be the third vote of liquor by the drink and the second just for city voters.

Danville voters approved such a measure last November.

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