GLASGOW — Cheers greet result
Supporters say local option will help attract more business
Supporters of a referendum to allow liquor by the drink in Glasgow restaurants had a reason to celebrate Tuesday night ... twice.
A crowd gathered at George J’s restaurant on the Glasgow Public Square huddled around Commonwealth Broadcasting co-owner Steve Newberry as he entered precinct totals as they arrived into a computer spreadsheet. When the figures appeared to indicate victory, the applause began.
Then, a little more than 10 minutes later, as Henry Royse with WCLU, along with attorney Bobby Richardson, called the vote in favor of the “yes” supporters, cheers resumed.
“We were overwhelmed when we got the petition signed and now tonight, it’s been a happy ending,” said Bob Stone, co-chair of the “More Jobs for Glasgow” movement.
Pat Vann said the referendum to allow liquor sales in dining establishments that seat 100 or more patrons and derive 70 percent of their sales from food will not benefit him personally, but could help in luring industry and offering more social options for younger generations.
“This is for the betterment of the community,” he said. “It puts us in a better competitive posture.”
Work leading up to Tuesday’s vote began in August, when the “More Jobs for Glasgow” committee began acquiring signatures to ensure the referendum was on the ballot.
They amassed approximately 2,018.
In Tuesday’s vote, 2,422 Glasgow residents were in favor of allowing limited alcohol sales, while 2,322 voted “no,” a difference of 100, according to unofficial results from Barren County Court Clerk Pam Browning.
The figures were in sharp contrast to the Dec. 19, 2000, election, where those opposed to the referendum cast 2,601 ballots and 1,155 chose “yes.”
Rhonda Riherd Trautman, director of Glasgow’s Renaissance Main Street program, said allowing restaurants to serve alcohol would “add more and more to what we already have in our downtown,” adding that establishments like George J’s would qualify under the ruling.
“It will compliment things going on at the Plaza,” she said. “We’ll just have more of an active downtown after business hours.”
Joe Downing, a member of the committee, said that he was especially proud of how the members of “More Jobs for Glasgow” conducted their campaign, which included the slogan “More Choices. More Jobs.”
“People actually stood up and weren’t scared for supporting something they felt our community needs,” he said.
Although he is a county resident and could not vote on the referendum, Bob Guilfoil said he was in favor of the local option passing.
Guilfoil added that he has lived in five other communities other than Glasgow, including Chicago and New York City, and feels that there is more alcohol found in individual homes locally.
“There’s more alcohol here than any place I’ve lived,” he said. “To me, this is just a way to legalize what we’ve already got.”
Opponents saw close race
Thought they would pull it out in the end
A small crowd of around 30 people for the “Keep Barren County Number One” committee gathered at the former Glasgow Recreation Department on the Public Square on Tuesday night to follow the election results.
Keeping a tabulation of votes on the referendum issue, the group cheered as absentee ballots and the first of 12 precincts in the city reported numbers and opponents of limited alcohol sales took the early lead.
The celebratory optimism was quickly replaced and the mood turned from tense to somber as the last few precincts came in and defeat appeared imminent.
A final tabulation showed those in favor of limited alcohol sales edged out opponents by 100 votes from a field of the nearly 5,000 cast, according to unofficial results from the Barren County Court Clerk Pam Browning.
Opponents of liquor by the drink sales said they were disappointed, but not surprised by Tuesday night’s outcome.
“I felt like it would be close,” said Glasgow City Councilman Freddie Norris, one of three co-chairmen for the committee. He said be believed while the numbers would be close, “I felt like we would inch it out.”
Some opponents say they believe voters may have been swayed — or even confused — by slick slogans rather than focusing on the real issue at hand.
“It’s a hollow victory,” W.S. Everett said following Tuesday’s election returns.
He said he believes proponents of limited alcohol sales were deceptive, pointing to advertisements touting “more choices, more jobs,” a widely used catch phrase during the campaign.
“Hidden, was the fact [the vote] was about alcohol,” Everett said.
The issue was put on the ballot in 2000, but was easily defeated by a margin of nearly two to one voting against the measure.
“Of course we are very disappointed at the outcome of the election,” said Steve Higginbotham, minister for the South Green Street Church of Christ and co-chairman of the “Keep Barren County Number One” committee.
He said he knew the vote would be tight, but said proponents appeared better organized and more vocal than in the past.
One of approximately 115 committee members who worked to keep Glasgow dry, Higginbotham said the costs of allowing alcohol sales in the community will be greater than the perceived rewards.
“Whatever small economic benefit our community receives from alcohol will never overshadow its greater costs of lives lost, homes burdened and families destroyed. When alcohol is viewed as a solution, we may be facing greater problems than we realized,” Higginbotham said.
He said he believes little more could have been done to prevent Glasgow from going moist this time around.
“We tried to inform. I don’t know what we could have done differently,” he said.
YES - 2,422; NO - 2,322
GLASGOW — Cheers greet result
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