Radcliff gains full access to legal alcohol

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City becomes the only area in county eligible for bars

By Marty Finley

Radcliff joined Elizabethtown and Vine Grove in welcoming expanded alcohol sales Tuesday, making it the only city in Hardin County to obtain full wet status.

The measure to expand alcohol sales in the county’s second-largest city passed with roughly 60.5 percent of the vote as 1,567 people voted to expand alcohol sales while 1,025 voted against expanded availability. All Radcliff precincts voted in favor of expanded alcohol sales, according to the Hardin County Clerk’s Office.

With the election complete, Radcliff businesses are eligible to apply for all levels of alcohol licenses available in Kentucky and restrictions on restaurants selling alcohol will be eased, according to the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

That also means Radcliff will gain licenses for liquor by the drink in bars and other venues.

Christopher Yates, a member of Yes for Economic Success, said the group is elated with the voter turnout and feels validated by the sweep. The organization was responsible for the petition drives that placed the issue of expanded alcohol sales on the ballot.

“We’re just ecstatic that we won all three cities,” Yates said Tuesday night. “We never really thought we’d get all three cities. We thought Vine Grove would be (tough), and we thought Elizabethtown was a toss-up.”

But all three cities showed majority support, with Elizabethtown and Radcliff approving the measure with 60 percent of the vote. Alcohol sales in Vine Grove passed with 59 percent of the vote.

“The people have spoken, and that’s all we wanted,” Yates said.

Yates said Elizabethtown and Vine Grove will be able to tax alcohol sales while the increase in licensing fees will benefit all three cities. He also said expanded alcohol sales will make the area more attractive for new businesses and development.

“To say there is no economic benefit, I don’t know how (anyone) could say that,” he said.

Yates also said Y.E.S. stayed above the board in its efforts.

“I think we ran a clean campaign, and I believe we kept our integrity through this campaign,” he said.

Radcliff resident Quinton Higgins said he was disappointed by the vote but was not defeated and would actively work to make alcohol laws more restrictive.

Higgins is a survivor of the Carrollton bus crash in 1988 after drunken driver Larry Mahoney drove his vehicle into a Radcliff First Assembly of God church bus, killing 27 people and injuring 34.

Higgins said he feels too many people in the area are focused on money and do not care about the impact alcohol can have on families. Higgins said he grew up in the throes of alcohol because of his father and directly lived through the destruction alcohol can cause.

“If you’ve never lived through it, you don’t understand it,” he said.

Higgins said he feels most of the voters who voted yes are ignorant to the facts and have now placed alcohol within their own city limits without grasping the ramifications. Some have countered by saying people will drink whether it is available in Hardin County or not, but Higgins said this argument is offered through a distorted lens.

“Radcliff and Hardin County have been just fine the way it is,” he said.

Higgins said he was saddened by the loss, but it has emboldened him to keep fighting for what he believes is right.

“Just because we lost doesn’t mean we give up,” he said.

Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall said the city will now need to work with the state ABC to comply with all of the state’s alcohol laws and regulations and ensure it has the right ordinances in place to deal with the changes in the law.

Duvall said he was surprised by the turnout but believes voters were confident in their views.

“I think people had time to massage their view on it and decide which way they wanted to go,” he said.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.