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City to choose wet-dry status again

Hartselle Citizens for Economic Development turned in a petition to Hartselle City Clerk Rita Lee Monday requesting a referendum to be held during the November general election on whether Hartselle can sell alcohol.

The petition turned in has 2,610 names, not including another 22 signatures that came in after the petition was prepared. Only 717 of the signatures are required to call for the election.

“It’s about time,” said John Carlin, one of the organization’s volunteers present when the petition was turned in.

Jo Ann Slocumb, another volunteer present when the petition was turned in, said she hoped this would pass so that Hartselle could get its share of tax revenue that’s leaving the city.

“The city really needs the revenue that’s going to Decatur, Cullman and Huntsville instead of staying here in Hartselle,” Slocumb said. “We’re desperately needing it.”

Bob Francis, president of Hartselle Citizens for Economic Development, said they didn’t have any trouble reaching the number of signatures this time around compared to two years ago. The group had a limited amount of time to attain the number of signatures and get them verified by a list of registered Hartselle voters.

Because the referendum narrowly failed two years ago, supporters had to wait until this year’s general election to have another election on the issue. That gave the group a much longer period to get the number of signature for the petition.

Also Francis said there was high level of interest among Hartselle residents in this issue.

“This time, we had people asking us where they could find a petition so they could sign it,” Francis said. “I don’t recall that ever happening before.”

Francis said they had petitions all over town including its kickoff at Depot Days last year. He believes the outcome of the election will be different in 2012.

“Overall interest, as demonstrated by the large number of signees when compared to petition activity in 2010, indicates a continuing upward trend of support for legalizing sales in Hartselle,” Francis said.

In 2010, 3,158 people voted against legalizing alcohol sales in the city vs. 2,691 in favor of the change.

The election will be held on Nov. 6, but the referendum will not appear on the general election ballot. Francis said a dedicated municipal voting booth, separate from the general election, would be used.