Murray-wide petition seeks to address alcohol sales vote

Ed Marlowe
Staff writer

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Or in this case, try again and again and again.

As it stands, businesses in Calloway County are prohibited from selling packaged liquor in any shape or form. Establishments able to properly seat 100 persons are allowed to sell it by the drink as long as food sales meet 70 percent of gross revenue and liquor sales do not exceed 30 percent of gross revenue.

However, a new local movement emphasizing a vote to bring packaged liquor sales to the city, titled “Grow Murray,” has sprouted up and created buzz around the county.

After creating a Facebook page on Jan. 24, purchasing three half-page advertising spaces in the Murray Ledger & Times and mailing out letters to random city residents, the privately funded organization seemingly has one mission: to get the word out, encouraging people to bring packaged liquor sales to Murray.

Past campaigns have come and gone with no success, most recently the 2009 “Keep It Local” campaign spearheaded by Boone Chambers, owner and manager of the Big Apple Cafe.

Chambers successfully collected the number of signatures required for a petition to be submitted, but his attempts were thwarted when the County Clerk’s office rejected the petition, as many of the signatures were not registered voters.

In response to Chambers’ efforts, locals against packaged liquor sales formed “Keep It Out”, and by the end of 2009, both sides resigned to a stalemate.

Chambers denied being part of this new movement citing undue hardship and a loss in business as a result of previous involvement with the issue.

“I was a lightning rod last year,” he said. “I am not involved with this at all.”

However, he alluded to new tactics used in order for the vote to come to fruition: Anonymity.

“The main reason for the anonymity is to take away from the ‘who’ and focus on the vote,” Chambers said. “Part of this movement is on the ‘what’ and ‘how’, and not the ‘who.’”

Indeed, no contact information has been provided so far in the campaign. No phone numbers, or places of businesses are mentioned or endorsed on the webpage, and additional contact information includes a single email address – growmurray@gmail.com.

Citizens can also get in touch with the organization via P.O. Box 906, but organizers leave no other way to communicate.

Their website, growmurray.com, states only 4,000 people received petitions due to budget reasons, but provides list and single-person petitions in a printable format.

Ray Coursey, county clerk, said he is not familiar with who is behind the campaign, but knew a petition had been formed and was circulating in the city.

With only 2,500 people voting in the last general election, Coursey said approximately 650 signatures would be required to complete the petition, 25 percent of the vote count.

From there, the petition lands on the county clerk’s desk, where all signees are verified as registered voters. Should the petition pass, Coursey said County Judge-Executive Larry Elkins would order an election no fewer than 60 days and no more than 90 days after the submission period, leaving a one month window of eligibility. “Something like this would require a special, separate election,” Coursey said. “This can’t be on the primary or general ballot.”