Powell County legalizes alcohol sales in controversial vote

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Drone footage from the Daniel Boone National Forest during October 2017.
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Drone footage from the Daniel Boone National Forest during October 2017.

In a vote that has caused tension in the preceding weeks, Powell County voted during Tuesday's primary to legalize alcohol sales.

4,699 votes were cast in the topic that has been filled with controversy in the county, with 3,000 of those voting to make the city go wet.

Likely in large part to the alcohol vote being on the ballot, Powell County's voter turnout jumped from 18.5 percent in the 2016 primary to 47.39 percent in Tuesday's vote.

A Facebook group called 'Vote YES: Wet/Dry Bettering Powell County', thanked all of the people Tuesday night who voted to approve alcohol sales.

"OUR hard work has made this possible and now we get to keep more of our money in this county," the post stated. "Maybe now we will begin to see growth, progress and jobs! It's not the answer to all of our problems, but it's a start."

Two counties that border Powell County, Clark County and Wolfe County, already have legalized the sale of alcohol.

But there were plenty of people in the county who were adamant that Powell should remain dry. A sign advocating for Powell County to go wet was recently stolen from a woman's yard, which led to uproar according to WKYT.

The county's Circuit County Clerk Darlene Drake told WKYT her belief was that alcohol is a legal drug in a liquid form.

"I don't think alcohol is something that we need, or that we need to tell our young people that that's something we need to survive," she said.

Powell County is home to one of the state's most famous tourist attractions, the Red River Gorge. One Facebook user, Robert Treadway, feels alcohol sales could further drive the tourism industry.

"I am not a resident of Powell County, but I spend some time there for both business and pleasure (I love the Gorge and Natural Bridge)," he said. "I believe legalizing alcohol sales in Powell County would do much to boost its already-robust tourist industry and promote economic development. The lodge at Natural Bridge is already wet, and the world hasn't ended."

Many more people took to social media to share their excitement about Powell County going wet.

Supporters of the legalization told WKYT they expect alcohol to be sold in the county by the fall.