Thursday, April 05, 2007

Changes in Whitesburg

It has only been two days since PRECIOUS BLOOD came out, and already some of the things described in the book may be changing. As I noted in the book, alcohol sales have been banned in Letcher County, Kentucky, since World War II, but an election is set for Tuesday, April 17, to change that within the city limits of Whitesburg.

The ballot initiative, if passed, would allow limited sale of alcoholic beverages in Whitesburg. Restaurants that seat at least 100 people would be able to sell beer and wine by the drink, though hard liquor would still be illegal. It would also be illegal for anyone to open a bar, since at least 70 percent of the establishments income would have to come from the sale of food.

Predictably, there's been a hue and cry from certain quarters about the vote. Personally, I hope it passes. While there are only four restaurants in town that are big enough to qualify for sales, I think you'll see more if the measure passes. I know for a fact that one large chain restaurant wants to move in, and I think others will probably follow suit. It would also allow restaurants to sell wine produced less than 10 miles away at Letcher County's only winery. Currently, the wine can be sold only at the Highlands Winery or to wholesalers.

Right now, anyone who wants a drink with their meal have to go to Perry County or the city of Pikeville, Ky., or to Wise County, Va., to get it. Whitesburg can only gain economically if tourists can have a nice dinner with wine there, rather than going somewhere else to get it.

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