Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

July 11, 2014

Cave City ‘wet’ vote set for July 22

GLASGOW — A small number of voters will get to decide later this month whether packaged liquor should be sold in Cave City, and some locals think the measure would be a positive step for the city.

A special local option election has been set for July 22 for the 2,685 voters who are eligible to cast ballots in two precincts – F101 and F102 – in response to this question: “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Cave City?”

Voters who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day may vote absentee at the Barren County clerk’s office through July 21.

The effort to bring packaged liquor sales to Cave City was spearheaded by the Cave City Forward Committee, which began circulating petitions in November to get the referendum on the ballot. State law required the committee to have 195 verified signatures or 25 percent of the votes cast in the city during the last general election in order to have the local option election.

Committee spokesman Larry Mutter said the group expects the sale of packaged alcoholic beverages to spur economic development in Cave City.

So far, he said, he hasn’t heard any opposition to the proposal.

“I really just think people are accepting what modern items are and they realize we are missing out on big revenue for Cave City from factories and industry,” Mutter said. “I’m not saying everybody is for it by no means. I may be fooled on Election Day.”

Cave City is already “moist,” meaning restaurants can sell liquor by the drink if they meet certain state law requirements. Cave City went moist in 2006, despite some minor opposition.

Those who were against liquor by the drink have seen it “has not ruined Cave City and lowered the lifestyle here. I think a lot of them are accepting it,” Mutter said.

To date, only two Cave City restaurants are actively selling liquor by the drink – El Patron and El Mazatlan. The Cave City Convention Center holds a caterer’s license to serve alcoholic beverages.

According to Jennifer Freeman, alcoholic beverage control administrator for Cave City, there has never been more than four restaurants at one time in the city serving liquor by the drink.

Jan Stoller is owner of the Cream and Sugar Café in downtown Cave City, a local gathering place. She said talk among her customers about the referendum has been positive.

Stoller does not serve liquor by the drink at her restaurant, which does not meet state requirements to do so, but she supports bringing packaged alcohol sales to Cave City.

“I think it will be a boost for Cave City,” she said, adding that people will go to other towns to buy it if they can’t purchase it in Cave City. “They might as well be able to buy it here.”

Sharon Tabor, director of the Cave City Convention Center, believes sale of packaged liquor will increase tourism. When tourists learn they can’t purchase packaged alcoholic beverages in Cave City, they go elsewhere to buy it.

“They will drive 30 miles to just be able to go out and pick up a beer or a bottle of bourbon or something,” she said.

Packaged alcoholic beverages were once sold at Cavers, a convenience store located inside Mammoth Cave National Park.

“We started it because we saw it as being a service to our visitors, but then it became a draw to many local people and it seemed like what was happening was we were getting an increase in law enforcement incidents that involved alcohol,” said Vickie Carson, public information officer for the national park.

The national park suspended the sales in August due to the park having a “modest law enforcement staff.”

“We don’t want to do anything that is going to cause a greater work load on our employees,” she said.

The committee did not consider the national park’s decision to be a potential red flag.

“That made us think it was time,” Mutter said.

He said the committee became aware of how much business increased in Cave City when the national park sold the beverages. Tourists tended to stay overnight in Cave City rather than traveling to other towns that sold packaged alcoholic beverages, because they could obtain what they wanted at the national park, he said.

Cave City Police Chief Jeff Wright said the department doesn’t make very many alcohol-related arrests.

“We have a few, but not what you would think,” he said.

Wright doesn’t envision the frequency of alcohol-related arrests increasing if the referendum passes.

“You know, I really don’t. I think if anything it will either level out or it may even lower some,” he said.

If the number of alcohol-related arrests does decrease, Wright predicts it will be because people aren’t traveling as much to obtain the beverages.

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