Spencer County residents debate upcoming wet-dry vote

By Lindsay English - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

TAYLORSVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In just a few weeks, voters in Spencer County, Kentucky will decide whether to keep the county dry or make it wet, allowing alcohol sales. Before you even talk to anyone in Taylorsville, you get a sense of how many residents are feeling about the issue. There are yellow "vote No" signs, dotting yards and roads, all over town.

"We don't need alcohol in Spencer County," said long-time Elk Creek resident Meynard Alls.

"I'm very much against it. I'm a Christian and our county, I know there is drinking, I realize that, everywhere. But I just don't want it in our county," said Doris Sweasy, a Taylorsville resident.

"From the feedback I'm getting it does seem like there's a good many people against the vote," said Pastor Patrick Nix of Lighthouse Baptist Church.

Spencer County is one of 49 completely dry counties in Kentucky. Its surrounding counties though, are wet.

"We see that as asset to our community. That we are an island. There are people that move here and we believe that is part of the draw that moves them here," said Nix.

Thursday night, The Spencer Magnet, the local newspaper, hosted a public forum to answer questions and take public comment. A panel made up of a wide variety of people on both sides of the issue participated, including elected officials, religious leaders and law enforcement.

The crowd was mostly made up of supporters to keep the county dry, but a few in favor of allowing alcohol did attend. Tonya Lunsford wasn't there, but she plans to vote for a wet county. "I think it would be a good idea. I think it would bring in a little more money in the town and possibly a couple jobs."

Lunsford said everyone already leaves Spencer County to buy liquor elsewhere, when she says the money could stay right there. "They go ten miles to Louisville or ten miles to Shelbyville or ten miles to Bloomfield."

Brian Helm, president of the Spencer County Business Association, made a similar point during the forum. "It's a matter of do we want those people that are already drinking and already spending their money to do it in other counties to help those counties out? Or do we want to receive the economic benefit?"

Helm also said his research showed wet counties attract more manufacturing facilities, restaurants and even tourism events, a big plus with Taylorsville Lake in the county. Nevertheless, some are leery those economic hopes tied to allowing alcohol in their county will come true.

"I don't think that will happen. I think there will be little beer joints around and that's not a good thing," Sweasy said.

Spencer County residents will cast their votes on October 20. The last time they had the choice to allow alcohol in the county was in October 1975. In that vote, the measures were defeated.

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