Alcohol petition filed
By By J.W. Greenhill, Hartselle Enquirer
The move to legalize alcohol sales in Hartselle took a giant step forward this week.
Supporters of a wet/dry referendum for Hartselle presented a petition containing 1,456 signatures to officials at Hartselle City Hall Wednesday morning.
The action was the first step in placing the issue on the November general election ballot. The petition needs 798 signatures from registered Hartselle voters in order to come to a vote.
Lora Ramey, owner of Ramey's Shell in Hartselle, presented the documents at city hall for verification.
"We wanted to go ahead and get this started," she said. "The people in Cullman waited until right before the election and that didn't seem to work for them, so we wanted to have some time before the election."
People in Cullman voted against legalizing alcohol sales in that city earlier this month.
Ramey said although 1,456 individuals signed the petition, not all the signatures will count toward putting the issue to a vote. Ramey said she has marked through and initialed signatures of persons obviously not voting at Hartselle's two polling places.
"That reduced the number of signers to 1,310," she said.
Because it is a municipal referendum, City Clerk Rite Lee will verify the signatures, which entails checking them against the voters list. Each of the signatures on the petition must be from a registered Hartselle voter.
Once the signatures are verified and duplicates eliminated, the petition will be presented to the city council for their acceptance at the June 25 meeting.
If the required number of signatures are there, the council must accept the petition, Lee said.
Mayor Clif Knight said a referendum on the wet/dry issue – which would be held at the same time as the Nov. 5 general election – could cost the city as much as $15,000.
"It amounts to two elections. We will have to have separate machines, ballots and poll workers," he said.
In case the issue does pass, Knight said he is researching the municipal ordinances of neighboring cities in order to have controlling laws ready. The laws limit how alcohol is sold in a city, and include things such as whether beer and wine only are allowed, or if all liquor sales are allowed.
"We want to be ready if it passes," he said.
Councilman Frank Jones, a proponent of legal alcohol sales, agreed with Knight's action to be ready with ordinances to control the sale of alcohol.
"We need to limit it to a certain percentage of gross sales at restaurants and hot sales at convenience stores. I don't want to see people buying a cold beer and throwing the can out before they reach the next interchange. They need to have to bring it home to chill it," Jones said.
Jones said he believes legal alcohol sales are the best remedy for the city's financial shortfalls and will help stimulate development at the city's interstate interchanges.