UPDATE 1/22/13 @ 8:30 p.m.
GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Voters have spoken and said “no” to alcohol sales in Greenup County.
A special county-wide election on the issue was held Tuesday.
With all 32 precincts reporting, 4,872 people said they wanted to keep the county dry. 3,830 voted in favor of selling alcohol in the county.
By law, a wet-dry vote can not come up again for three years.
People turned out at the polls all day Tuesday to cast their votes for or against alcohol sales within county limits. Some supporters said people drive elsewhere to spend money on alcohol, and that it's costing Greenup County.
"Greenup County is losing a great deal of revenue to accompanying counties [such as] Boyd County, even people going over into Ohio," Skip Crabtree, who voted to allow alcohol sales, said Tuesday. "If people are going to drink alcohol, they're going to buy it the closest place they can."
While supporters argue it would be a boost to the economy, those who want to keep the county alcohol-free cite moral reasons.
Philip Perry Sr. voted to keep the county dry. He said he has lived in cities where alcohol had negative effects on the community. To him, the economic argument doesn't make sense.
"When it is a blight on the community, there will be more expenses for people," Perry said. "It's a negative wash either way."
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Voters will head to the polls Tuesday to decide if it will remain that way. It's the first time in decades the issue has gone to ballot.
Both sides agree on one thing: this vote is not all about alcohol. Instead, there’s a huge focus on the economy.
“Greenup County is a county that's basically dying,” Jeremy Bates said. “We need to bring in an employment industry. We need to change things up. And that's what this is.”
Bates is the man behind the push for alcohol sales in Greenup County. He says it all comes down to his kids.
“I look at my pregnant wife, and I think about my kids," Bates said. "And my kids are raised here, and when they get old enough to go out on their own they're going to have to move away from Greenup County to have a lifestyle that I think they deserve."
The Commonwealth Attorney disagrees. He says quality of life will go down in Greenup County.
“They like to talk about the money that it brings in, but they never want to talk about the extra cost,” Mel Leonhart said. “The extra cost to the jails. To law enforcement. I've been in law enforcement for 30 years, and they never talk about the cost to families.”
Tal Calihan owns two restaurants in Boyd County. He's from Greenup County and says he'd love to open a business there. But it all hinges on Tuesday's vote.
“This obviously is not about drinking,” Calihan said. “It's about economic growth. To have a nice place to go eat. It has certainly helped out here.”
Margaret King spent the day protesting the issue. She says she likes going to Ashland occasionally to have a drink with dinner. But she doubts even with alcohol sales that any big restaurants would come to Greenup County.
“The large chain restaurants won't come,” King said. “So that's just going to leave package stores and bars.”
The vote will be decided Tuesday. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A special election is set for Jan. 22. The election follows a petition drive that collected more than 1,600 signatures of voters who want the wet-dry issue to go before voters.
About 60 people met Saturday night at the Wurtland Church of God to discuss the issue.
Organizers say the purpose of the meeting is to keep the county dry.
“Alcohol is a life changing, life destroying and life killing drug and we stand against it,” said Brian Daniel.
“I think the less accessible it is going to be the harder it would be for a young person to get a hold of it," said Sherri McCarty.
Organizers with the Wurtland Church of God are trying to get in touch with every church in Greenup in hopes of voting down the amendment.
The Ashland newspaper reports that County Attorney Mike Wilson and Melvin Leonhart, the newly elected Commonwealth Attorney, spoke out against alcohol sales at the meeting.
If alcohol sales were to pass, the fiscal court and each city in the county would adopt ordinances controlling alcohol sales in its jurisdiction.
Greenup County has been a dry county for more than 65 years
A special election has been scheduled for January 22, 2013 in Greenup County for a wet-dry vote.
Judge Executive Bobby Carpenter tells WSAZ.com that a group got more than 2,000 signatures on a petition for the vote. They only needed 1,600.
Carpenter says the vote will be for all alcoholic beverages. If passed, they will determine if alcohol will be sold seven days a week.
Carpenter tells WSAZ.com that if the vote passes, they will bring in the state Alcohol Beverage Control office to make sure everything is done properly.
According to published reports, Greenup County has been a dry county for more than 65 years.
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