In the Nov. 6 election, two Daviess County precincts held a wet/dry vote after gathering enough signatures across their communities to place the vote on the ballot during the midterm election. Both Utica and Philpot East were dry precincts prior to voting, which meant neither was able to sell alcohol within their allocated boundary, nor were residents and businesses able to obtain a liquor license to sell alcoholic beverages at events.
Both precincts voted in favor of becoming wet, and, on Jan. 9, they will officially be able to obtain liquor licenses in their communities. Each precinct, however, has very different ideas as to how their wet status will benefit their community.
D.J. Patel owns the Utica Food Mart and had a major hand in getting the wet/dry vote onto the ballot for this year’s midterm election. After his store was forced to shut down for a few months during Jan. 2018, he said he began collecting signatures around his community as a way to continue working toward the bigger picture.
“We can apply January 9th,” Patel said. “It’s going to boost our business.”
Because Patel sees so many people frequent the Utica Food Mart as it is, he believes the ability to sell alcohol in his store will bring even more business his way. Patel believes residents who live in dry communities, such as McLean County and Livermore, will bring extra revenue into the Utica Food Mart once Patel fills up the “Beer Cave” inside his store.
“We’re already placing orders for the Beer Cave,” Patel said, adding that he plans on supplying his customers with low prices and a variety of beer to choose from.
“They’ve supported us for a long time, so we’re going to give them very good prices,” Patel said of his customers. “The Utica community is very good — very supportive people.”
In Philpot East, Joan Hayden collected signatures in her community as well. Hayden, who is Secretary of the Fair Board, said the Lions Club in her precinct has no desire to obtain a liquor license for the building they use, but that they wanted to pass the wet vote to help the community.
“It’s much more attractive to prospective people who want to rent the place,” Hayden said. “We wouldn’t do that ourselves — only someone who rents out the grounds.”
Hayden said that, in the past, potential events such as car shows and concerts passed on holding events in the Philpot East precinct because they weren’t able to sell alcohol. Now, however, Hayden believes the wet vote will allow residents to take better advantage of their local resources.
“We have the venue for these events. People can have receptions, parties, concerts and events there, but that [dry precinct] held us back a little bit,” Hayden said.
Hayden said those wishing to rent out the Lions Club building for future events will have to go through the Judge-Executive to obtain a temporary liquor license from the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) office for events in which they wish to sell alcohol.
Chief Deputy Clerk Richard House said the wet vote would benefit Philpot East in other ways as well, such as giving the precinct the ability to sell alcohol at the fair and the new Dollar General store being built in that area.