After months of ongoing talks, the residents of Barbourville voted to keep alcohol off the shelves and out of the restaurants in the city.
This is the first of several upcoming optional votes within the region. Officials said it was a fairly high turnout for the town.
Knox County Clerk Mike Corey said that there is approximately 2,400 registered voters within the city limits.
“We are probably looking at about a 45 percent voter turnout based upon the city numbers,” said Corey.
“That’s a pretty good turnout.”
In the end, 591 of the 1,075 voters said they did not want change, so the city will stay dry.
The election officers posted the results right outside the National Guard Armory just minutes after 6:00. Those unofficial results did not count the absentee 40, but those who voted no still won by over a hundred votes. Both sides had mixed reactions.
“I am pleased it didn't I am in the city almost every day and I do business in the city and I think it will affect the people of the city as well as the county,” said Geral Wells. Wells said he did not vote in the election, but was there to support those who were against the sales as he thinks it would affect more than just the city residents.
Some who were hoping to see alcohol sold said they were hoping the city would follow in the footsteps of surrounding areas who have recently gone wet or moist.
“I am surprised it was a no vote,” said J.T. Smith who voted in favor of alcohol sales.
“With the other counties going wet I am surprised.”
Lee Davidson who worked as an election officer said that even though he was unable to vote he also believes it affects more than just the 2,400 registered city voters. He said he believed that they were not afraid to stand alone.
“We may be the only local place here with these local option elections to vote it down i think everybody else around here will vote it wet to some extent,” said Davidson.
Davidson’s daughter who was able to vote said she believed it would help the future for the economy.
“I am a little bit disappointed I feel like it would have brought much needed change and growth and prosperity to this town,” said Bonni Jackson, who voted in favor of sales.
Some who were in favor said it could be a matter of age difference. Smith said he believed the results showed how strong the townspeople were when they gathered in numbers.
“It was probably most of the younger people who were ready for it to change,” said Smith.
“We need change, we don't need it to be stagnant anymore,” said Jackson
Corey said he had at least 50 county residents who tried to vote, though the optional election was only open to those registered voters within city limits. No voting fraud issues were reported.
In the coming weeks, voters in Corbin and London will decide whether to expand alcohol sales. Williamsburg will hold a restaurant-only alcohol vote next month.