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Athens petition seeks new vote on alcohol

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com 340-2432

ATHENS — Can the flow of alcohol through wet Athens be reversed? A local minister is hoping to stop the sale of beer, wine and liquor after filing a petition Friday to hold another vote on allowing alcohol sales in the city.

According to City Clerk John Hamilton, the Rev. Eddie Gooch of Isom's Chapel United Methodist Church filed a petition of 1,555 names at 1:15 p.m. Friday requesting a referendum on alcohol sales. He needs 1,242 names to qualify, but he would need two-thirds of participating voters to vote against alcohol sales to make Athens a dry city again.

Hamilton said his staff would spend this weekend making sure the petitioners are registered voters who live within the Athens city limits.

"Now we've got to go through the very tedious process of verifying these signatures," he said.

He said Gooch wants the alcohol vote on an Aug. 14 referendum in which Limestone County voters will be considering a 1-cent sales tax increase for schools.

This would be the fifth referendum on alcohol sales in Athens. In 2003 on the fourth attempt, voters finally approved alcohol by a margin of 231 votes, with 3,727 voting for and 3,496 voting against.

Hamilton said the city now splits roughly $504,000 annually from alcohol sales revenues with the Athens City Board of Education.

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