DRY RIDGE, Ky. — Poll workers in Grant County were busy with a constant stream of voters into the local middle school, as residents decided to loosen the county's restrictions on alcohol.
It was the only question on the ballot: Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Grant County? The Grant Co. Clerk's Office reported the unofficial totals were 2,424 votes in favor, 1,899 against.
Until Tuesday's election, Grant County was a "limited dry" county, which meant only a few select cities are allowed to sell alcohol and only in restaurants that seat more than 100 people and less than 30 percent alcohol-generated revenue. Dry Ridge is one of those cities, along with Crittenden, Corinth and Williamstown.
It was an issue that poll worker Frank Goodpaster told WCPO might have turned out more of the county’s voters than the recent governor’s race in November.
But public opinion remained mixed outside the polling station Tuesday.
Some residents like things the way they are.
“I don’t want to see the beer sales,” said Dry Ridge resident Sue Blackney. “I don’t want to see the stores that are selling liquor. I don’t want to see bars.”
But for others, the issue boils down to money and jobs.
Becky Hammons works at a Marathon gas station where it is illegal to sell alcohol. Should that change, she said the station’s owners would likely stock the shelves.
“I’m sure that they would,” she said.
Hammons also wonders if legalizing alcohol sales could cut down on drunk driving in the county.
“They can get their liquor, their beer, whatever, and go straight home,” she said.
The county is expecting an influx of tourists, hotels and restaurants as the biblically-themed park Ark Encounter sets to open next July.
Resident Clay Cropper said that will definitely be a game-changer. “Because the Ark’s coming, I think that’ll be a whole lot of difference whether (the law) passes or not.”
But fellow resident Clay Cropper senses some irony in that logic. “Will this multi-million dollar (religious) attraction of Noah’s Ark be a catalyst?”