City of Harlan voters approve alcohol sales, vote was quieter than expected

Published: Nov. 5, 2019 at 5:07 PM EST
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County officials say the City of Harlan wet-dry vote was quiet compared to the other years it was on the ballots.

364 people voted yes, while 183 voted no, meaning the city can now sell alcohol.

"Nobody anywhere seems to be interested. And always before, the city or a county-wide, that was a very big thing," said Donna Hoskins, Harlan County Clerk.

One of the common reasons those who voted for the packaged alcohol sales gave was the push for tourism.

WYMT also spoke to voters that say they believe it is time they went from "moist" to "wet" to keep up with other surrounding cities.

"I think people are ready for the City of Harlan to be 'wet,'" said Peggy Major. "Why not make it wet? To be able to help our police officers and be able to hire more people. And, open more businesses that can help the community."

Those that voted against the city becoming "wet" say, they believe it would do more harm than good.

"As for me, I'm against it. It makes it easier for kids to pick it up," said James Chasteen, Sr. "I'm sure there will be a lot of people buy it and pop a top in the parking lot and drive. And uh, I worry about the children getting off school buses, and things like that."

However, law enforcement said they do not expect to see a lot of increase in crime rates or arrests if it does pass.

"I think that perhaps we might see a few more DUIs, but nothing else. I don't think we'll see any violent assault crimes, a large increase in those or anything like that," said Winston Yeary, Harlan Chief of Police.

On the flip side, Yeary says becoming "wet" could be beneficial, a sentiment many people shared.

"I think it may draw in more restaurants and it will also generate revenue for the general fund. And also, the alcohol regulatory fee will benefit the police department, because that fee does go to assist the police department," said Yeary.

To see the results come in after the polls close,