McCracken County residents and business owners continue to debate whether the Fiscal Court should again ban the sale of alcohol on election days.
The court heard the first reading of ordinance 2014-2, which would reintroduce the prohibition on election day alcohol sales, during a meeting Monday night. The court heard the first reading on Feb. 24 of a measure that would amend a state law. Commissioners passed an updated alcohol ordinance that abolished the more than 60-year-old law under newly approved alcoholic beverage control licensing requirements earlier that month.
Judge-Executive Van Newberry said another first reading was necessary because Assistant County Attorney Sam Clymer had advised that introducing a standalone ordinance rather than an amendment was a better, more transparent option.
Each county has the option to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages when the polls are open, which is typically from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., on primary or general election days. The city of Paducah passed the full legislation, which allows election days sales, in December.
A handful of residents in favor of continuing the restriction, who cite support from local Baptist churches, have spoken out during Fiscal Court meetings. Russell Hobbs spoke about the added danger of alcohol consumption, particularly on days with vehicle traffic.
Business owners in McCracken County who would be affected, including Show-Me's Restaurant on Husbands Road and Purple Todd Winery in Lone Oak, have joined together against the measure. About 18 businesses would be impacted if the amendment passed.
Susan Engdahl, owner of Show-Me's, spoke during Monday's meeting, citing an unfair business advantage gained by city businesses, a possible loss of revenue from tourists and a reduction in wages for wait staff who rely on tips. She said 40 percent of her income comes from alcohol sales and a prohibition would hurt many small businesses, such as restaurants and wineries.
"The state of Kentucky and the city are taking a proactive approach, and the county shouldn't be looking backwards," she said.
Newberry set the second reading of the motion and public forum for the next meeting March 25. The court has until early May to complete the process, with the primary set for May 20. He said the court could vote following the meeting depending on the conversations and whether a motion is made and seconded.
In other meeting business, the court approved several minor alterations to the joint inter-local agreement, a deed of conveyance and assignment agreement requested by Canadian-based Macco Organiques. The court will pay the Paducah Economic Development (PED) $1.25 million toward the joint project with the city and the PED council. The company announced last March it would expand to a plant in Paducah that will bring 40 jobs.
Gladman Humbles presented a tribute to Master Sgt. Aaron Torian, a Paducah native who died Feb. 15 during combat training operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was serving in his sixth military tour and had just reached a decade in the service.
Funeral services for Torian were held Feb. 26 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Humbles asked the court to work with the city and Torian's family to install a monument to honor the fallen Marine.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.