Local Features
10:20 am
Fri August 28, 2009

Keep It Local May End Murray Prohibition

Hear it!

Murray, KY – Big Apple Cafe proprietor Boone Chambers is one of the organizers of Keep It Local, the group in Murray seeking to end prohibition in the city. One of their primary reasons for doing so

Chambers -- The amount of money that leaves this town every year is staggering.

Chambers is referring to the many residents and hundreds of college students that make the trek to stores in surrounding cities to purchase alcohol, like those found in Fulton and Paducah, as well as Puryear and Paris, Tennessee. They argue the revenue lost is too great to let it slip away. Among other reasons for the change, Chambers and other group members cite landing big industry like Murray's Pella plant. According to research from Kentucky tourism site TrailsRus.com, manufacturing plants have opened up more often in wet counties than in dry ones in the Commonwealth. With Murray's new industrial park looking to fill its vacancies, Chambers says it's time to take another look at the issue.

Chambers -- Murray's adapted to the alcohol thing and this is the next logical step in that process We're giving everybody the right to choose; that's really the bottom line.

Chambers says the feedback he's gotten so far has been mostly positive. He has heard some concerns about what the measure would allow if voted in.

Chambers -- This is going to be controlled. This just doesn't open the door to a liquor store on every corner and a dive bar The city gets to regulate the number of licenses, the hours of operation, signage, store fronts... If it's done like we would like to see it done, it will barely be noticed.

It's been over 20 years since Murray has held a full wet vote. In 1988, the initiative failed by more than 900 ballots. A group in Murray has yet to come forward publicly arguing against the new proposal. Yet, city council member Butch Sergeant may be an indicator of the opposition.

Sergeant -- The city of Murray is a wonderful place to live and a wonderful place to raise our children because the community was dry for so many years, and even since 2000, the laws on alcohol that were voted in by the people have been strictly enforced by city government. I think we've done a good job in overseeing that whether I like the sale or not.

Though, concerned about Murray's growth and economic climate, Sergeant says he's against making existing alcohol restrictions more lenient and would prefer to do away with selling it completely.

Sergeant -- I look at all of the cities that are much bigger than us and probably have the sale of alcohol and they've fallen into the categories that I really don't particularly want to be like.

If the measure does pass, the Commonwealth's Alcohol Beverage Control says it's likely to stick. Nathan Jones is the Staff Assistant to the Commissioner of the ABC. He says the trend in Kentucky has been to go wet.

Jones -- Recently, most elections are for the sale of alcohol rather than reverting back to a dry status. The overwhelming majority is that they stay wet.

While no public opposition has come to stand in their way, Keep It Local is enlisting the help of Murray State fraternities to gather signatures and organize voter registration drives. The group's goal is to acquire at least 1,650 signatures in an attempt to overshoot the required 1,422 needed to get onto the ballot for a November 17 vote. Some 500 people have signed the petition so far.

For WKMS, I'm Chris Taylor.