Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward has signed an executive order setting a date for a local option election to be held in Whitesburg this summer.
On June 26, voters in the City of Whitesburg will vote on whether alcohol sales should be expanded inside city limits.
On the ballot the question will be “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in the City of Whitesburg?”
Whitesburg resident Mark Kidd, who organized the petition drive, delivered the petition containing 147 signatures on March 12. Kidd said only about 70 signatures — representing 25 percent of those who voted in Whitesburg on Nov. 8 — were needed for the petition. Letcher County Court Clerk Winston Meade said only eight of the 147 people who signed the petition are not registered to vote in the city.
According to Kentucky election laws, the local option election cannot be held less than 60 days or greater than 90 days after the date the petition is filed with the county clerk. The local option election can’t be held on the same day as the May primary election. A local option election can be held once every three years in that specific area.
Kidd, who owns commercial property downtown, said he had been talking to people who are in favor of having a special election to vote on whether or not Whitesburg should be wet. He said he decided to go ahead and get a petition in circulation after researching state law.
The first signature was given on Dec. 22. The petition reads as follows:
“In order to promote economic development and tourism within the City of Whitesburg, Kentucky, the undersigned, being residents and registered voters in Whitesburg, do hereby petition for a local option election, as required by Kentucky Revised Statutes 242.020. As required by KRS 242.050, the proposition on the election ballot shall state ‘Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Whitesburg, Kentucky?’”
In the spring of 2007, voters in Whitesburg approved a referendum allowing the sale of alcohol in restaurants that seat at least 100 patrons and derive at least 70 percent of their income from the sale of food.
If voters approve the new referendum it would be up to the Whitesburg City Council and Mayor James W. Craft to determine the regulations governing the sale of alcohol in the city.
Whitesburg is one of several Kentucky cities moving to expand alcohol sales from restaurant only. Voters in the city of Murray in southwestern Kentucky are expected to vote on a similar measure there on May 22.
Voters in the city of Manchester in Clay County approved package alcohol sales last June, as did voters in the city of Corbin in Laurel County on February 20.
Residents will go to the polls in neighboring Knott County on April 10 to vote on whether to allow alcohol sales there as well. If Knott County approves alcohol sales, Letcher County will be totally surrounded by counties and cities that sell alcohol by the package.