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Vote yes on city, county options

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By-the-drink sales could boost local economy

By Jonna Spelbring Priester

If it weren’t for our front page, you might not know there’s a wet/dry vote coming up.

There’s been little discussion, very few phone calls and no letters to the editor about the local option votes to be held Dec. 13 countywide and for New Castle.

Even the referendum on the Henry County Country Club vote in June generated two letters. And that involved just one precinct.

Several years ago, when Eminence was considering by-the-drink liquor sales, there was plenty of public discussion for or against.

But there’s been little dustup this time. The vote is less than two weeks away, and since nobody else is talking, I’ll take the podium: Voters in Henry County and in New Castle should approve alcohol by-the-drink sales.

For better or worse, a piece of the county’s economic future could be built on the sale of alcohol. We’re a mostly dry county stuck in between Louisville and Kentucky Speedway with an interstate connecting us all. Shoot, we’re stuck between the Speedway and La Grange, which allows sales by the drink.

The county has little more at the two I-71 exits other than gas stations and fast food (even those options are limited), and one location that seems to serve as a revolving door for locally owned restaurants (at least three in the same spot in the last three years). We have almost no options for visitors coming off of the interstate to stop for a sit-down meal.

I won’t be so bold as to guess just how much money is passing us by at 70 mph, but I think it’s safe to say it’s a bunch both in terms of revenue for local businesses and revenue for the county.

Alcohol by-the-drink availability is a draw for many folks who like to dine out. There are some savvy local business people who know that, and I suspect they will jump on the opportunity to capitalize on a successful referendum.

But more to the point — the presence of restaurants can lead to the presence of other businesses, like places to shop while you walk after your dinner or while you wait for a table. Think about this. How many shopping centers don’t have at least one sit-down restaurant? Have you seen many hotels that didn’t have a restaurant very, very close by?

Those things can, and do, exist without alcohol sales, but I suspect their presence could be expedited if such establishments can offer diners alcoholic beverages with their meals. Is the ability to serve alcohol by the drink a guarantee for economic development? I admit, no — but it provides interested businesses an option, effectively sweetening the pot. And it certainly provides local consumers an option to stay closer to home, instead of driving out of county to spend their money. It’s also an effective lure for travelers.

Simply put, approving alcohol sales would be a progressive step for the future of Henry County. There’s no reason not to approve the option on Dec. 13.

So let’s have it — what do you think? Should Henry County voters approve the alcohol-by-the-drink vote on Dec.13? Let us know by visiting www.hclocal.com and voting in the web poll. Or let us know by writing a letter to the editor (and send those to editor@hclocal.com or by snail-mail to the address listed in the top portion of this page.

Speak up!