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Lyon businesses faring well after "wet" vote

BY LAUREL BLACKlblack@paducahsun.com

Business owners say last January's vote to allow liquor sales in Lyon County has boosted the local economy, and that they haven't seen the negative consequences naysayers predicted when the measure passed.

Since the vote, three businesses - Eddyville Wine & Spirits, Exit 40 Liquors in Kuttawa and Molloy's Liquor & Wine on Ky. 93 South - have received package liquor licenses. Ten other locations, mostly convenience stores, trucks stops and gas stations, now sell beer, said Kent Murphy, county sheriff and ABC administrator.

Markedly fewer restaurants received licenses, Murphy added, as many of the county's dining establishments are located in Kuttawa, which already allowed alcohol sales by the glass.

Eddy Creek Marina in Eddyville was granted its wine and beer license in May, a week before Memorial Day weekend, co-owner Mandy Carney said. The restaurant has also applied for a liquor license, which she hopes to receive before the business opens for the season in April.

She said the restaurant experienced higher profits in 2013 than it had for the previous five or six years.

"Whether that was directly from alcohol or not, I'm not sure, but our alcohol sales were good. We definitely showed an increase," she said.

A bill designating Eddyville as a fourth-class city was signed into law last March, allowing the city to collect revenue from alcohol sales, Eddyville mayor Nancy Slaton said. She estimated that the move has brought $50,000 to the city's coffers, and said the money helps to fund local law enforcement.

Slaton said the results of the vote, which passed by 258 votes, have all been positive. She hasn't heard of crime increasing, and said Eddyville Wine and Spirits has brought an economic boost for the town.

Alcohol sales opponent group Citizens for a Safe Community raised concerns last year that crime, including DUIs, domestic violence and theft, would increase if the county went wet. Group co-chairman Rick Reeder told the Sun last January that legalizing alcohol sales would cost the county and city money for law enforcement and negatively affect families.

No spokesperson for the opponent group could be reached for comment.

Murphy declined to say whether the vote had helped or hurt the county, but said his department didn't see a notable increase in DUIs or domestic violence calls from 2012 to 2013.

He said a 6 percent regulation fee collected from the sales of alcoholic beverages goes toward additional policing and regulatory or administrative expenses for the sheriff's department, which has allowed for the hiring of an extra deputy.

From July to November 2013, the department received nearly $20,000 from the regulation fees, Murphy added.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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