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Organizers say they are halfway toward getting enough signatures to put Corbin alcohol issue on the ballot

A month and a half after announcing an effort to legalize the sale of packaged liquor in Corbin, the principal organizer behind it said he has about half the number of signatures required to put the issue before city voters.

Kurt Kraus, Chairman of a group called Corbin Citizens for Economic Progress, said some early setbacks slowed the push to get about the roughly 800 to 1,000 signatures from registered voters in the city saying they want to see the issue on the ballot for a special election. Because Corbin lies in two counties and has voting precincts split between city residents and those that live in unincorporated areas, getting petition cards mailed to the proper people has been complicated.

"Things are going pretty well despite that. It kind of threw a monkey wrench in the plan, but we are halfway there," Kraus said. "I want to really emphasize to people that if you are for this and you want to vote on it, then you need to sign the card and drop it in the mailbox."

Kraus said about 2,500 cards were mailed to city residents last week and many are starting to come back.

"We need a big response. It needs to keep rolling. We don't want this thing to die," Kraus said. "If we don't get the participation we need from the cards, then the plan is to start hammering the streets and go door-to-door."

According to Kentucky law, the group needs to have at least 25 percent of the number of registered voters who voted in the last General Election to sign a petition before the measure can go on the ballot. The group is shooting for 800 to 1,000 signatures.
Once the signatures are presented to the County Clerk in either Knox or Whitley County, the signatures are verified. Then, the Judge-Executive from that respective county will set a date for a vote on the issue. Only registered voters who live in the city limits of Corbin will get to vote.

The official question on the ballot would be: "Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Corbin, Kentucky?"
Once a petition drive is started, organizers have six months to present the signatures for verification. A special election on the issue has to be held, but cannot be within 30 days of any primary or general election.

In a letter to citizens that accompanies the petition cards, Kraus makes the case that easing restrictions on alcohol sales in Corbin would help shore up the city's budget and spur economic development.

Paul Taylor, a Corbin native who owns package liquor stores that operate under the name "Liquor Mart" in Richmond, Danville and Lancaster, supports the measure and said he is interested in opening a similar store in Corbin if it passes.

"We employ between 15 and 25 people per store. Between Danville and Lancaster we pay $350,000 a year in taxes to those cities. I think it would be very good for the economy in Corbin," Taylor said. "I'm very interested in opening a store in Corbin. I've already been looking at land there. I think it's a great market."

All told, Taylor said he owns four Liquor Mart stores. He said a fifth would be opening in Manchester in the near future. That town approved a measure identical to the one proposed in Corbin. Organizers in London and Barbourville are floating similar proposals.

"People in Corbin are already drinking, but they are just going other places to buy their alcohol. It would be good to keep the tax dollars at home," Taylor said. "It just makes sense.

Together, Taylor's stores do roughly $25 million in sales every year. He opened his first in 1992 with a $15,000 loan from a Corbin bank. Now he keeps an average of $1.5 million to $2 million of inventory on hand in each location.

"It's a big investment, but you have to do it to be competitive," Taylor said.

If passed, Corbin would likely be allowed to issue three licenses to stores to sell package liquor of any type. An unlimited number of licenses could be issued to grocery stores, convenient marts and the like for beer sales. Also, restrictions on sales of alcohol at restaurants would become more lax. Currently, restaurants that sell alcohol must have at least 70 percent of their gross receipts come from food sales. That would drop to 50 percent.

Kraus said he's been surprised that he's received very little opposition to the idea of voting on expanded liquor sales in Corbin.

"A few people have sent the cards in saying they aren't in favor of it, but nothing belligerent," Kraus said. "It's been pretty calm, really."

So far, he said about $5,000 has been spent on advertising and mailing. All the money has come from private individuals. Stores and restaurants haven't yet financially backed the effort.

Kraus said some people have told him they are afraid to sign the petition cards because of possible reprisals or ostracism from those who are against it.

"I think there's a little fear among some people out there that other people will find out," he said. "The only people that see those cards are me and the county clerk and the ones who verify them. I've eased a few minds by telling people that, but some people are still scared."

Originally, organizers hoped to have the issue ready for a vote in February. Kraus now calls that goal "optimistic" but said the next few weeks will be telling.

"That would be great to do it that early."



B. Knuckles (November 30, 2011) Reply

I feel it would be a great income for the good of the town. People are going to drink, or do drugs, if they want it no matter where they live, they will go and get it. Why not have Corbin benifit, not only from it's citizens, but from other surrounding townships that are closer than Knoxville, or Richmond. I am a Christian, even the Lord drank wine, a sin is a sin, if a person over indulges in anything is a drunkeness (and it is a sin), all sins are equal. If we take our children to OUR CHURCHES, and teach them about OUR LORD, teach about morals, teach about principals, teach about right and wrong, I could go on and on. I think our schools would profit. Our rural roads are in need of repair..(They are Very dangerous, expecially at night, and in bad weather). Think People...there are hundreds of reasons the township could use the income.

Elliot Ness T Man (December 01, 2011) Reply

During prohibiiton in the 20's and 30's people got booze from making bathtub gin and backyard stills. Some went to Canada and then there was Al Capone and Lucky Luciano that sold it illegally. Alcohol would solve a lot of problems relating to prescription drug abuse in my opinion. If people have an alternate method of getting high legally they will use it. There will be a slight increase in DUI's and alcholism, but the bootleggers will be out of business (Swafford) and other crimes associated with alchohol sales, it's just the way it is. But I would rather have some drunk go to the local Circle K and buy a case of beer than risk my life on the interstate when he drives to Jellico or Richmond to buy his beer. He is going to get it regardless. The Tax revenue is going to help out, and one solution is for the City to hire a few more cops to keep us safe or raise the pay of the officers and keep them here instead of a training ground and revolving door.

Howard (December 01, 2011) Reply

As a Christain I am sad to see other people write they are in favor of the alcohol sales and also state they are a Christain in the same sentence. How can you support this and have your soul where you need to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. With that being said we cannot blame the heathen that supports the alcohol sale but we must blame the church. We have failed to stop such foolishness by sitting back and doing nothing. And when I refer to the church I mean a true Christain and not the people that go to church once a week and claim to be saved. I pray that this measue does not pass and I pray for our city, but most of all I pray God will have mercy on the people who support this measure. Someday they will see the error of their action.

citizen (December 03, 2011) Reply

as a christian. Howard. i take offense to you questioning my religion and judging me for my thoughts on the sales of alcohol in my city.. Jesus's first miracle was to turn water into wine. it is not a sin to drink alcohol RESPONSIBLY. it says in the bible not to be a drunkard but to be full of the lord.. pretty much, allowing alcohol sales in corbin will bring revenue into the city, improving the local economy, allowing the excess money to be spent on schools, social events, or whatever the local government sees fit. a drunkard will be a drunkard weather the sales are legal or not.. nevertheless.. keep your old fashioned, over conservative, pessimistic, bigot, and bias ideas out of my religion.

Dirty (December 02, 2011) Reply

I really don't understand how you can call someone a heathen for trying to bring some income back to their community. Do you u think for a second that the alcohol is not here in Corbin now, the only differene would be is the city would benefit from the taxes instead of another town and the proffit would be in a business to help create a job or two instead a bootleggers pocket. Wake up, just because they can sell alcohol in Corbin doesn't mean everyones going to become a drunk. People who drink do it here now, the revenue just goes elsewhere. And another thing, you claiming to be Christian, and telling someone else because they only go to church once a week their not saved? I hate to tell u but some people have to work or take care of an ill family member or another list of things that may keep them from attending church evertime the doors open, but that doesn't change weather or not their heart and soul is in the the right place. and u my friend are not the one to tell anyone who a true Christian is, thats the good Lords job. So before you call anyhing else foolishness, stop and listen to yourself.

barney (December 07, 2011) Reply

as christian i can't believe any one who follows christ would even say they were for package stores what little money this would bring in is a joke just like when they voted on selling booze in restraunts the only people stupid enough to believe this trick of the devil will spend time with him because they are fooled by lies that they let them selves go for you cannot sit and drink in front of your children and expect them not to do the same this is the blind leading the blind buy for years here in corbin it has been a trudition if you say you are a christian don't fall for the lie of more money for corbin it does not make more money but the one who sells it this is no way to get economic growth how about trying something new to corbin try to get new manfacturing to come to corbin

citizen (December 15, 2011) Reply

barney, first off i hope your high school English teacher was fired after he passed you. second off, it is never stated in the bible that alcohol is a sin. not once.. never once does it say a beer with dinner will **** your soul.. alcohol is not evil.. people are the only things to do evil. alcohol is just an excuse.. and as far as the "drinking in front of your kids" thing.... DRINK RESPONSIBLY in front of your kids! and they will grow up to drink responsibly.... teach them! dont hide it from them! dont shelter them under a false reality only to be dropped into it unprepared..... so dont use the kids as an excuse... that's not alcohol.. that's parenting.. sont be afraid of catching up with the times... the world isnt going to go to hell.. its going to be fine.. my generation can handle it.... now again.. keep your old fashioned, pessimistic, biased beliefs out of my religion..

1234 (December 18, 2011) Reply

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