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  • Writer's pictureWRIL-FM

Local option election movement started in Middlesboro

From WRIL -

A few years ago a group of citizens created a petition for a question about alcohol to be placed on the Middlesboro ballot during a local option election.

At the time, the question of would the citizens be in favor of alcohol being sold in restaurants meeting eligibility requirements was met with support. The voters spoke and it passed, making the city "moist".

On Wednesday January 8, 2020 another group known as the "Citizens for a Progressive Middlesboro" submitted a letter of intent to distribute a petition in regard to basically upgrading the moist status to "wet". This move would allow alcoholic beverages to be sold at grocery stores, stand alone stores, and convenience stores within the city limits of Middlesboro, but with a limit on how many licenses could be issued per KRS.

It's a move than many in the community say "is long overdue" but state statute mandates that a question of this nature cannot be placed on the ballot within three years of the last similar election. The tax revenue from the sale of alcohol goes to the local police department in order to enforce the laws of the land.

Still others in the community say, after seeing the announcement, that this will not "save" Middlesboro and see it as a way for "the rich to get richer." (quoted from several social media posts on Wednesday night January 8th)

The organizers of the movement state in the letter of intent and on the petition that they are pushing for the May 19th primary election to have the question on the ballot. Bell County Clerk Debbie Gambrel and Chief Deputy Clerk Kayla Carnes tell WRIL that the petition must have the names of 25%, which is 487, of the registered voters in the city limits from the last election verified in order for it to be considered. Each name will be checked by the clerk's office for authenticity before being sent to county attorney Neil Ward and if approved, Bell County Judge Executive Albey Brock.

The petition is being circulated throughout the city and the deadline to submit is Tuesday January 28, 2019 by 4pm.

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