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County OKs election day alcohol ban

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

The sale of alcoholic beverages on election days in McCracken County outside Paducah will continue to be prohibited.

Fiscal Court members heard the second reading of ordinance 2014-2, which would reintroduce the prohibition on election day alcohol sales, and held a public forum Tuesday night. The court then voted 3-1, with Commissioner Zana Renfro opposed, to prohibit the retail sale of alcohol on primary, general, local option or special election days.

"My decision was conflicted between my personal beliefs and my job as a county commissioner," Renfro said. "My heart said one thing and my head said another."

Judge-Executive Van Newberry said following the vote: "We listened and gave consideration to both sides, but in the end it wasn't a lot of time to miss out on and the law has been on the books so long. I thought it was best to continue it."

Commissioners heard the first reading of the proposed measure on March 10 and approved the alcoholic beverage control licensing requirements in February. Each county can permit or prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages when the polls are open, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., on all election days. Paducah passed the full legislation, which allows election days sales, in December.

During the open forum, five residents who supported the measure to eliminate election day sales, and three members of a collation of business owners in McCracken County who would be impacted, spoke.

Residents for the ban listed the low number of days per year that businesses would be affected, the historical precedent and the dangers of increased road traffic.

"Make a decision with your beliefs, what is the right thing to do and what's best for the county," resident Henry Hillman said.

Susan Engdahl, owner of Show-Me's, presented two petitions - one signed by 17 businesses including restaurants, wineries and liquor stores within the county and another by about 700 county residents and other patrons. She cited the unfair business advantages and loss of revenue caused from allowing businesses in the city to sell alcohol but barring those in the county.

"You are pushing the customers a mile down the road to the city where it is available," she said. "This won't decide if people can purchase liquor but where they can purchase it."

Mike Roof, of Roof Brothers Wine and Spirits and Blake Anderson, of Five Star Food Mart, both said the ordinance would cause confusion among customers with some locations in the city and others in the county.

In other meeting business, McCracken Jailer Bill Adams presented the 2014-2015 preliminary jail budget. Adams said in his nine years in office he has been able to lower the budget each year. Next year's budget features a decrease of $30,000 in prisoner bedding and telephone funds. Along with the cost of living increase mandated by the state, the proposed budget has a 0.79 percent increase.

Chad Chancellor, president and CEO of Paducah Economic Development, was named the county liaison for the Infiniti Building on Commerce Drive following an executive session. The court set a workshop for 6 p.m. April 3 at the courthouse to discuss proposals submitted to provide the county information technology (IT) service. Newberry also issued a proclamation that named April 2014 as Child Abuse Prevention Month in the county.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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