Knott Co. joins growing list of areas to hold wet/dry votes

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

Knott County has joined the growing list of counties or cities where voters will decide this year if they want to allow alcohol sales.

Judge Executive Randy Thompson said a petition had more than the 675 signatures needed to put this issue on the ballot but voters will have to wait until April to make their choice.

“You must get twenty five percent of the voters who voted in the last general election,” said Thompson.
He said that there were roughly 2,400 registered voters who exercised their privilege to vote in the last election.

Thompson said that the lack of specifics in the wording is what worried him the most. It simply read “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages both by the drink and packaged beer wine and liquor sales in Knott County, Kentucky?”

He said he believed it leaves a lot of open to consideration.

“It would probably be a little bit more palatable to me had it been simply designated for restaurants that seat so many people and have a larger percentage of their income from food but that is not the case in this particular petition,” said Thompson.

He and the sheriff said this could lead to more patrols.

“One thing that concerns me the most is having liquor by the drink anywhere throughout the county and it makes me wonder are we going to have little bars all over the county?” said Thompson.

“If you have taverns and nightclubs coming in, along with that is going to come a lot more work on law enforcement's part because ultimately when you have those places people have too much to drink and you end up with altercations,” said Knott County Sheriff Dale Richardson.

Richardson said he had mixed feelings on the issue because he is well aware of the county’s budget shortfalls and knows that many are in search of work.

“If it could create jobs, that would be a plus,” said Richardson.

Thompson said they had projected an estimated $1.5 million shortfall. Those who favor the proposal think it could help the county's budget woes.

“It would be a lot of growth to the county,” said Jeremy Ashley. Ashley lives in Knott County and said he would love to see the county wet so the economic revenue would stay in the county.

“It could open a lot of business here and instead of taking our money to Perry county and other places,” said Ashley.

Ezalee Pigman, who started the petition said that he believes it will bring nothing but good things to the residents of the area.

“We just look for development in the county and there is a bunch of ways that this helps,” said Pigman.
“Making the county wet could decrease the amount of alcohol related incidents and D.U.I.'s because people spend less time on the road because they don't have to go to other counties to get it.”

Pigman said he believes that Knott County desperately needs the revenue that would be generated from sales.
“Not only would tourism in our county increase, but we would also keep money that residents otherwise spend in other counties,” said Pigman.
Pigman said that additional sales would create new stores and jobs.

Thompson said that he is letting the people of Knott County favor the outcome, personal beliefs aside.

“I am not in favor of it, but I will let the people decide what they want to do,” said Thompson.

The vote will be held on April 10. Thompson said that this election had to be held at least 60 days after the petition was submitted and could not be within 30 days of the general election which will be held on May 22.

Thompson said it will cost the county around $25,000 to host this optional election. He said before he became a judge he believed the county was wet at one time.

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