By Jeff Noble / Staff writer
With Barbourville saying “No” to alcohol sales by the drink and by the package Tuesday night, the attention now turns to Corbin’s vote just six days away — Tuesday, Feb. 14.
The sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Corbin is already allowed by the drink in some restaurants. But the question on the Corbin ballot is different from their neighbor to the southeast. Next Tuesday, Corbin voters will answer that question on allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages by the package with either a simple “Yes” or “No” vote.
And if it goes in favor, a whole lot of questions will be thrown at the Corbin City Commission, as well as a whole new set of state regulations that will determine who gets the licenses and where they can be built.
The major change will be who can sell package liquor, wine and beer.
Presently from Corbin, the closest place to legally buy alcohol by the package is in Manchester, over in Clay County. Last year, voters in that city voted to make Manchester wet by both the drink and by the package. While restaurants selling alcohol opened up within weeks and stores selling beer by the package opened up shortly afterwards, buying hard liquor or wine in Manchester wasn’t available until this month, when two liquor stores were to open up. Manchester lies about 35 miles northeast of Corbin. Prior to that, Richmond was the closest “wet by the package” town to Corbin.
Because Corbin is a fourth class city in Kentucky, state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulations would determine the number of package stores that would sell liquor, beer and wine. It’s expected at least four package stores could operate in Corbin if voters approve the measure next Tuesday. Those could be stand-alone liquor stores similar to ones in cities like Richmond, Lexington and Manchester; or can be owned by a supermarket (like one liquor store in Winchester owned by a national supermarket chain, where the grocery store and liquor stores are next to each other, but have separate entrances on the outside. In Lexington, the Meijer discount store also has a similar set up).
Drug store chains such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreen’s have also operated liquor stores inside their buildings, similar to ones the chains operate in Lexington, Richmond, Winchester, Manchester and Hazard. Should the vote to make Corbin wet by the package go through next Tuesday, that possibility could also happen.
As for retail beer licenses — those that sell beer by the package — would be unlimited in the city of Corbin, and could be sold in convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores and supermarkets. In areas where local alcohol laws allow, both Kroger and Walmart (who both have major operations in Corbin) sell beer by the package.
The rules and regulations on what could happen when a city faces a local option election were discussed during a community forum in Barbourville on Jan. 24, in which representatives from the state ABC board came to conduct the session, sponsored by the City of Barbourville. During that meeting, ABC officials told those in the audience who had questions on how close the sale could be near a school or a church, and if alcohol could possibly be sold on Sundays in the future would be up to the local city council, or city commission.
In an earlier Times-Tribune article about next Tuesday’s election, Whitley County Court Clerk Kay Schwartz said that Corbin voters who live in eight precincts in Whitley County would be able to vote at six polling places.
Corbin City Hall is one of the polling places, which is for two precincts — Precinct No. 7 (which formerly voted at the old Disney’s Garage), and Precinct No. 40 (City Hall precinct).
Another polling place will be at South Ward School on 17th Street, which involves two precincts — South Corbin precinct and South Ward School precinct.
Also included is Precinct No. 32, which will vote at South Ward School; as well as Precinct No. 41 (Corbin Middle School); Precinct No. 33 (the Masterstown precinct, which involves the Gordon Hill area. They’ll be voting at Central Elementary School); and Precinct No. 45 (involving the 8th Street area. They’ll also be voting at Central Elementary School).
As for those voters living in two Corbin precincts in Knox County, Knox County Court Clerk Mike Corey added they’ll be able to vote at the North Corbin and East Corbin precincts.
Absentee voting on the Corbin special election began on Jan. 20. Only those eligible to vote in Corbin — either in Knox or Whitley counties — are eligible to vote next Tuesday. If you have any questions about next Tuesday’s election, contact the Whitley County Clerk’s Office in Williamsburg at 549-6002, or the Knox County Clerk’s Office in Corbin at 258-8430 or in Barbourville at 546-3568.