Booneville beer vote set for Aug. 17

BOONEVILLE – Residents will decide on Aug. 17 whether the sale of beer and light wine should be legalized in Booneville.
Supporters have been working for months to gather enough signatures needed on a petition to force a referendum on the issue. The Board of Aldermen approved the referendum date this week.
A total of 1,245 validated signatures were submitted to the city board, said Gary Walker, who heads the group that organized the petition drive.
“We originally started out needing 1,184 signatures,” Walker said, “but with the petition drive we registered a lot of new voters, so the number kept going up.”
The statute requires that 20 percent of qualified voters sign the petition for an election to be called to allow or prohibit the sale of beer.
The vote has broad business support, with more than 40 businesses helping gather signatures on the petitions. However, the Booneville Church of Christ has made its opposition known in a full-page newspaper ad.
The bottom line is business opportunity, Walker said. Chain restaurants, he said, will not locate in a community that is dry.
“We’re sitting on a potential explosion of industry, business and job opportunities,” he said.
Walker said New Albany, which began beer sales April 15, has seen a significant jump in sales tax revenue.
Absentee voting on the referendum is already under way at City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. On two Saturdays – Aug. 7 and 14 – the office will be open 8 a.m. to noon for absentee voting also.
“Some people registered who had never voted,” Walker said. “It’s been an eye-opening experience for a lot of people as we got the chance to talk with people one on one. It’s just amazing how many people are not in tune with the election process. This has been a good thing, win, lose or draw.”
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal