Signs in city of Elkton prelude alcohol vote

Tonya S. Grace/Kentucky New Era

A sign in a city churchyard urges a "no" vote in Elkton's upcoming local option election.

It's two weeks before the primary election, and the streets of Elkton are peppered with signs.

Supporters are urging residents to "vote yes for economic development, tourism and individual freedom" in the community that is the county seat for Todd County and traditionally has been dry, or prohibited to sell alcohol.

The "Yes" messages posted throughout the city have been paid for by "people for a more prosperous Elkton," according to information included on the bottom of the black and white signs.

Naysayers are urging a "no" vote May 21 -- primary election day in Kentucky and the day that Elkton residents will see the question about alcohol beverage sales on the ballot when they go to vote.

The question will read as follows: Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in the City of Elkton, Kentucky? Under state laws, a city of Elkton's size will be limited to two retail liquor store licenses and will have an unlimited amount of retail by the drink if the issue is approved this month.

"I think these signs are more to encourage people to stand up for the stance that Elkton's taken in all of its history, to remain dry," said Mike Cummings, the new pastor of Elkton Baptist Church.

Cummings' congregation has its own signs and will give one free of charge to anyone who is interested; individuals just need to come by the church and pick one up, the pastor said.

He mused that he has never been in a town where there has been a wet/dry election.

Every town he's lived in has already been wet.

Cummings said he thinks it's fine for people to stand up for what they believe.

"The Bible says 'be not drunk with wine or strong drink,' and that's of course the stance we take," he said, referring to an admonition found in several different books of the Old Testament.

The pastor said he's never experienced anything like the upcoming local option election, and he is interested to see how things go as the vote nears.

Elkton resident Coty Scott said almost everybody he knows will vote for alcohol sales, and he said he likely will too. Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of Yuengling, described on the company's website as America's oldest brewery, Scott noted that people are going elsewhere to buy their alcohol.

"That'd bring more money to the city," he said. "I think it'd bring a lot more money to the town."

Elkton is a dry city in a dry county and has been a dry community since the days of Prohibition a century ago, according to Laura Brock, an Elkton resident who joined forces last year with Michael Case, also of Elkton, and Todd County resident Rhonda Werner to bring the vote to citizens.

The three filed an intent to start a petition in December with the Todd County clerk's office, and Todd County Judge-Executive Todd Mansfield read the executive order pertaining to the sale of alcoholic beverages in Elkton during a special-called meeting of the Todd County Fiscal Court in February.

The executive order noted that the petition filed by Brock, Case and Werner had been accepted and approved. Elkton has addressed the wet/dry issue before, and it's been raised in Todd County's two other incorporated cities as well. A similar effort conducted last year in Trenton was not approved.

The City of Guthrie passed liquor-by-the-drink 10 or 15 years ago, and a package liquor vote four or five years ago in Guthrie also passed.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

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