Scott County residents will have their voices heard in November if the entire county will go wet or remain mostly dry.
Scott County Clerk Rebecca Johnson said Thursday the petition drive to get the local option on the Nov. 6 ballot received enough signatures, and Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington informed magistrates Friday morning the issue will be on the ballot.
The petition effort was launched this summer to make all of Scott County wet, which could result in liquor by the drink or package sales throughout the county. Currently Georgetown is the only place in the county that allows such sales, and it is that disparity that prompted the petition effort by local businessmen, including C.J. May, Michael Blowen at Old Friends, and Daniel Harrison at Country Boy Brewing among others.
They needed to collect 5,528 verified signatures to get it on the ballot, and Johnson said they ended up with 5,758 signatures that qualified out of the 6,161 that were turned in.
“Initially we had gone through the signatures and set some questionable signatures aside that needed to be verified,” she said. “We had over 5,000 signatures and the ones that were questionable could put the petition over the threshold, so we had to go to the county attorney for some guidance.”
The question centered on what was directory information and what was mandatory for the petition to be successful. County Attorney Rand Marshall provided case law and determined that there was a precedent to answer Johnson’s questions.
“We looked specifically at residence, if they were a constitutionally qualified voter, and the signature,” Johnson said. “Once those were examined and verified, the petition was successful.”
Supporters of the petition said their hope was to level the playing field across the county and also stimulate the economy throughout the county, such as in Stamping Ground and Sadieville. May, who owns the property Josie’s of Georgetown is on, said the issue was important to him and the restaurant because just a few feet down the road in one direction and a little over a mile in the other direction restaurants can sell liquor by the drink and it was not fair to Josie’s that it couldn’t.
“We worked hard to get here and it was good to hear that it is getting on the ballot. But this is the first step,” May said. “Now we let the voters decide. We don’t have a formal plan, but we expect everyone involved to make sure everyone is aware it is on the ballot.”
Blowen had previously said that it would help events at Old Friends if they can have liquor sales or even have their own bourbon blend to benefit the retired thoroughbred farm.
“Right now we have to get a special license if we want to have beer at an event, and Country Boy Brewing is very supportive of donating beer, but they have to give it away,” Blowen said. “We usually have about four events a year that this would impact.”
May said it is now in the hands of the voters, but he believes it would be a positive for the county.
“I’m happy for people like Old Friends and the smaller communities. They need money to operate their businesses,” he said. “As we have said, we think it should be a good economic boost and don’t think it will change the character of Scott County.”
Steve McClain can be reached at email@example.com.