Welcome to my "Going Wet" page. This section is my take on the origins of the successful effort to "repeal Prohibition" and make Spencer County "wet" during 2009. As the reader will see, it wasn't exactly a cake walk as there was quite a bit of opposition, some of it quite emotionally charged.
When I lived in the greater Louisville area during my assignment at Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Louisville, I didn't even know where Spencer County was. When I returned to the area in 2006, we were coming from a semi-rural environment outside Huntington, WV and were looking for a similar area to buy a house. Through our Realtor, we found our home in Spencer County after some unsuccessful looking in Shelby County, I was somewhat surprised to find that it was still a "dry" county. That fact didn't discourage us from buying our home since we fell in love with it and it met all of our needs, in particular a garage large enough to keep our truck out of the elements. I never considered local availability of alcoholic beverages to be a real key point. Besides, every county around us was "wet" so purchasing alcoholic beverages would be no big deal anyway.
For the first three years that we lived in Spencer County I never even heard a peep about "going wet" and allowing any sale of alcoholic beverages. It didn't matter enough for me to start the effort, but when a petition was circulated to bring the matter to a vote I quickly signed on as a supporter. I'm a huge believer in letting the people decide on important issues. Even the whole petition idea caused great umbrage among many people. Credit for starting the petition was given to a gentleman named B. J. Smith. To my knowledge I have never met Mr. Smith to this day. At the time, he was a member of the county Economic Development Agency and there were questions about conflict of interest. I never paid much attention to that as I considered it "noise" that was a desperate attempt by some to stop the whole process. I was actually quite surprised that enough people signed the petition to even bring the matter to a vote. Once it became clear that a vote was going to happen, the battle lines were drawn and the war "to save Spencer County" got underway.
Needless to say there was a great deal of emotional debate regarding the whole subject. One thing that did surprise me was that there were a number of people who while they were regular consumers of alcoholic beverages they still wanted to keep the country "dry". There was no organized "yes" movement but there was quite an organized "no" campaign. Below is one of the flyers that an organization that called themselves "Safe Spencer" put out. Safe Spencer was the brainchild of a local businessman, James Allen Tipton. If you were directed to this page from the "safespencer.org" website (yes, I bought the website after the organization abandoned it) I welcome you to Retroman40's World and hope you'll look around a bit.
The local newspaper, the Spencer Magnet organized an information session on the Thursday, October 8th, 12 days before the vote that was held at Spencer County Middle School in the gym. Less than 100 people attended. That was a bit of a shock to me considering how polarizing the debate had gotten. The session was quite good and surprisingly speakers were very respectful to each other. There were several letters printed in the Magnet in their October 14, 2009 issue. The editor at the time, Robin Bass, also wrote her opinion on the subject. At least to me the letters were all predictable with the usual poor reasons for allowing alcohol sales. You know, there will be increased crime, increased deaths from all the alcohol related automobile accidents, and an increase in just about every social ill you can think of. I wrote a letter that was published that only encouraged people to actually vote. You may wonder why I didn't try to influence people on how to vote. Well, by that time I don't think there were too many undecided people around. You can click HERE to continue reading.
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