Some local municipalities in Hawkins County approved new liquor laws including Mount Carmel and Church Hill, but the closest race was in Rogersville, where the referendum for liquor by the drink passed by just seven votes.
David Watson wrote petitions and helped get about 300 signatures to get liquor by the drink and package stores on the November 6 ballot in the town of Rogersville. "I was looking at what we can do to help bring money, tax dollars into Rogersville,” he said.
Watson said he was tired of Rogersville residents going to surrounding cities like Kingsport and Greeneville to have a drink at a restaurant or buy alcohol, taking revenue out of town with them.
But that won’t be a problem anymore; Rogersville voters approved the referendum on Election Day allowing package stores with 707 votes to 663 votes. They also approved liquor of the drink by a narrow 708 to 701, a seven vote difference.
"The citizens have voted and decided and now it’s time for the city leaders take it to the next step," said Watson.
The next steps, according to city attorney Bill Phillips, include writing an ordinance, having it approved by the city council, determining the number of liquor licenses to be issued, and finally have it approved by the Tennessee Alcohol Control Board.
"I think it's always a good thing when you can prevent the loss of tax revenue to surrounding areas,” Phillips added.
What’s interesting about the votes on the issues, according to Phillips, is that more people were in favor of package stores than liquor by the drink. "They think it's okay if you buy it and take it home and drink it, but you probably shouldn't drink it while you're out and about."
That notion is fine with Watson since he now plans to open up the first liquor store in the town.
Phillips said the process to get liquor licenses should take about 90 days. The first package store could be open as early as spring.