Voters in Whitley County vote yes to expanded alcohol sales

Published: Jun. 28, 2016 at 5:28 PM EDT
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It’s known to be a highly divisive issue in many of Kentucky’s rural communities over the years but Tuesday evening voters in Williamsburg voted to expand alcohol sales by an almost 2-1 margin.

The unofficial results were 448 voted yes and 241 voted no.

“If you’ve ever had alcoholic parents who were abusive, you would think twice about voting yes,” said Don Bunch, who says he voted ‘no’ on the issue at the Williamsburg City School precinct Tuesday.

“We don’t need to make it any easier for our young people to die in automobile accidents. Or innocent people,” Bunch said.

Mayor Roddy Harrison says he started the petition to allow all stores to sell beer, wine and liquor, but not so it would be easier to get a six pack.

“Mine is moving forward as a town. What you are thought of from the outside world,” Harrison said.

Harrison said tourists will tend to stay in towns where they know they can easily run out and get a bottle of wine. He says industry executives have tended to look elsewhere when they learn potential locations are dry territories.

“I just felt it was time. You know, everyone around us has gone wet,” Harrison said.

Williamsburg is one of the few towns on I-75 where packages stores were not illegal.

Voter turnout was said to be extremely light. At the county courthouse, where about 600 are registered to vote, only 40 or so had voted by noon. That’s about seven percent of registered voters.

Voters narrowly approved restaurant only sales a few years ago.

“We lost by 6 votes. People didn’t come out. I am a little ashamed of them,” said Bunch.

“People have a vision of the wild west, drunkards on the town. That’s not going to happen. We are going to police it and regulate it,” said Harrison.