Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 7, 2013

Alcohol petition drive nearly complete

Somerset —

By the beginning of next week, Pulaski County could be move step closer to being “wet” — not just in Somerset, but in retail stores all over.
Jess Lockard — the Bronston man who told the Commonwealth Journal in early April that he was responsible for a petition circulating throughout county convenience stores that would call for countywide alcohol sales — said he expects to be turning in all the names he’s collected soon.
“I’m confident we have the signatures we need,” said Lockard. “We’re moving forward.”
On Tuesday, Lockard confirmed that he was currently in the process of going around and collecting the petitions placed in approximately 40 different businesses around the county, north to south, east to west. He noted that he’s collected almost 5,000 names himself, and had spoken to the gas stations and stores about how many citizens had signed each of the placed petitions.
His estimate? Lockard figures he has anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 signatures in favor of alcohol sales in the county — though when asked to narrow that down to a smaller window, Lockard estimated about 12,000 to 14,000.
That’s at least twice as many as he needed. In order to get the issue on the ballot for county citizens to vote on it, 6,554 signatures were needed. 
The petition reads as follows: “We request and demand a Election be set to legalize the sale of alcohol for a unified Pulaski County has hold.”
While Lockard’s petition just mentions “the sale of alcohol,” Lockard himself says that what he’s envisioning is merely beer and malt beverage sales in stores, much as Somerset has had since last September in grocery and convenience retailers, as opposed to liquor stores.
The idea is to help bolster businesses located outside of the Somerset city limits. Lockard is concerned that those stores will be at a competitive disadvantage to city retailers, which are allowed to sell beer and malt beverage products. Lockard said he knows of “two or three” he’s talked to that have told him they’re facing the possibility of having to cease operations due to loss of customers.

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