Alcohol sales get thumbs up

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By Bryan Marshall

Dry Ridge will be dry no more after a convincing majority of voters chose to make the city moist.

With a total of 742 votes, 488 were in favor of making alcohol available in the city by the drink at restaurants and dining facilities with a seating capacity of at least 100 people and which derive at least 70 percent of their gross receipts from the sale of food.

Only 254 residents voted no in the local option that was spurred by a signed petition filed Aug. 14 by J.B. Barnes.

“Of course, I’m happy that the people voiced their opinion,” Barnes said. “It’s what the people wanted and it’s what they got. It will be good for the community. It will be good if we can get some decent restaurants here. You’re not going to have that without cocktails. It will create jobs and it will be good for the business community and taxes. I think it’s a real good decision. Had it gone the other way, I would not have had any complaints.”

Previous petitions have been filed, with the last one being rejected by voters in 2005.

In the January 2005 vote, only 304 votes were cast — 159 against and 145 in favor of alcohol sales.

According to Kentucky law, three years had to pass before a vote on alcohol sales could be put back on the ballot in Dry Ridge.

Corinth and Williamstown voters approved alcohol sales by the drink in 2004.

Dry Ridge Mayor Clay Crupper, who has remained neutral on the issue, said he will have to wait to see what potential impact the vote will have on the city.

“The people have spoken and we’re going to do what the people say,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait to the future and see what happens. We might get a steakhouse or some good restaurants out of it to help the city draw business in. We’ll see what comes out of it.”

Although the local option passed easily, there were some vocal opponents to alcohol sales being allowed in Dry Ridge.

Rev. Joe Kitchens of the Dry Ridge Baptist Church previously said that the ultimate goal of the people pushing the vote is to have a wet Grant County.

“If we have a wet Grant County, then we’re going to have bars,” he said. “We’re going to have liquor stores. I don’t think people want that next to their home or next to their churches or having their kids pass it two or three times a day on the way to school.”

Kitchens, along with David Tucker, Bobby Barnes, Greg Nimmo and Conrad Hefner, also submitted a letter to the editor to The Grant County News opposing to alcohol sales.

“If liquor is the cure all for financial woes and stalled growth, then where are the home owners asking for a bar beside their home?” the letter states. “Where are the land speculators promising to improve roads, community services and create family friendly bars? Where are the studies to show that alcohol will improve the workforce of Dry Ridge? Where are the school officials promising with liquor sales that new schools will be built? The sad truth is, while some individuals may benefit from the alcohol sales, families will suffer because of it.”

Barnes, who said he thought the vote would be a landslide victory, said his reasons for the petition were wrongly portrayed by some who were against alcohol sales.

“I know they said they’ll be bars on every corner, but that’s not the issue at all,” he said. “It’s just to get some restaurants here. As far as getting the whole county or city wet with bars and beer joints and packaged liquor stores, that’s not the issue at all.

“They tried to scare the people into that to try to change their minds on how to vote, but it didn’t work,” he said. “They were very negative and untrue about the whole matter. Of course, that’s their prerogative. If they want to be that way, that’s fine. I have no hard feelings toward them. They have a right to voice their opinions.”