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Another Wet/Dry Battle Looms This Year in Marshall County

Wikimedia Commons/Steve Snodgrass
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Three years after a narrow defeat, the option to allow alcohol sales could be on the ballot once again this year in Marshall County.

Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Randy Newcomb says his board supported going wet in 2012 and will take the lead this year in the effort. He said he wants to see visitors’ dollars stay in Marshall County.

“They’re driving to Murray now. They’re driving to Paducah. They’re driving to Cadiz to go out to eat, to buy alcohol, and then a lot of it, they’re bringing back to Marshall County," Newcomb said. "So it’s just an added amenity that we could offer to our visitors.”

Newcomb said alcohol sales will bolster lake tourism and bring new restaurants into the county.

“It will also enable some of our existing restaurants the ability to expand and expand their business,” Newcomb said.

Marshall County realtor Sissy Wommack was one of the leaders behind the "Marshall First" initiative in 2012 which championed going wet. She says those same supporters will rally behind the tourism board's efforts this year.

The "Say No Now" initiative led the Marshall County dry vote in 2012. Their mission statement was follows:

"It is our mission to protect Marshall County families from the ills which are more prevalent in locales that have commercial outlets for the sale and public consumption of alcohol and thus, to preserve Marshall County as a happy, healthy and safe place to live, work ,raise families and retire."

County clerk Tim York said approximately 3,366 signatures need to be collected on petitions before a special election can be called. That number represents 25 percent of the total Marshall County voters in the 2014 general election. If the petition is successful, York expects a vote in late July before students go back to county schools. Some schools are polling places and York said he didn't want to upset class schedules or school activities with a special election.

Newcomb said his board will hold its first meeting to discuss a strategy for the campaign in the next 3-4 weeks.

Of Kentucky’s 120 counties, 81 are dry, 35 are wet and 4 counties are considered “moist".Many cities and precincts in dry counties have passed liquor-by-the-drink sales, like Calvert City in Marshall County. Last year, Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park was annexed to Calvert City and began offering liquor in its dining room. 

John Null is the host and creator of Left of the Dial. From 2013-2016, he also served as a reporter in the WKMS newsroom.
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