Precinct 2 signatures needed by July 17 for beverage question

Precinct 2 volunteer Wanda Pooley, right, collected signatures from voters Jon and Donna Wilems, during early voting, to place a ballot measure on the general election ballot legalizing the sale and service of alcohol in the presently-dry East Kerr County precinct. The deadline is July 17.

Kerr County Commissioner Tom Moser said the petition drive in his precinct to get the “alcoholic beverage sales” question on the Nov. 3 General Election ballot has hit a big blockage, as supporters can’t be going door to door to ask for signatures on petitions.

Moser said he understands why residents don’t want people knocking on their doors during this COVID-19 threat while they are trying to stay self-isolated. But it has hurt the campaign to get this Pct. 2 question on the ballot.

The issue is that the “dry” situation in Precinct 2 of Kerr County is a barrier to business investment, according to Moser and the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce.

That area has been analyzed as being of very high value for wine production and an area where new wineries can be established. They’d like to extend the Wine Trail in the Hill Country that direction and there are interested investors.

Moser said getting this question on the ballot in November would affect several existing businesses in the precinct, including the Camp Verde Store; Gravity Check on Highway 173, Toucan Jim’s in Center Point, the Mini-Mart in Center Point, the Turtle Creek Olive Grove, and the event center and working farm near Fall Creek Road that also has a tasting room in downtown Kerrville.

Previous Chamber President Walt Koenig said changing Precinct 2 from “dry” to “wet” would improve the quality of life and the economy in that area, and draw more tourism.

As of late last week, Moser and his fellow petition gatherers were working toward the total needed of 2,016 signatures and said they needed more than 616 more signatures of Precinct 2 residents who are registered voters, to sign the petitions to get this question on the November General Election ballot.

Volunteers, paid staff needed

Volunteer Claudia Richards of Precinct 2 has been leading a group of volunteers working during the early voting period in advance of the early Primary Runoff, by hosting a table in the general area of the voting at the Hill Country Youth Event Center.

The volunteers have been asking Precinct 2 voters to also consider signing this petition on alcoholic beverage sales in the precinct.

“It’s been going well so far,” Richards said, “but COVID has been creating issues for this project. We have about 1,400 signatures now.”

Richards said in addition to the volunteers’ table at the election site 7 a.m. 5 p.m., they will be hosting a “drive-through” or “drive-up” signing event.

“People can also go to The Bank in Center Point at 219 FM 480, and after they sign a petition, they can get a free coffee or glass of wine. That one will be held 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each business day to Saturday, July 11,” she said.

“Also there are petitions at the Pavilion at Dave’s Place at 170 Center Point Rd. and from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on July 11 we’ll be giving signers tacos and margaritas to go,” she said.

Richards called this a “stop and go event” and said face masks are required to be worn in this particular establishment.

She said they also will have a table with petitions to be signed, at the Union Church on July 14, Election Day, all day.

For more information, Precinct 2 residents can visit the website www.precinct2prosperity.com. The petition sites are listed there, too.

“Community members are helping, but we still need more volunteers’ help,” she said.

Richards said she would sign up volunteers to work one day or some shifts over multiple days. And she said some paid slots are still available.

Those interested can call Richards at either (830) 777-3881, or (254) 413-5879.

“This petition effort is not to vote for or against production and sale of alcoholic beverages in Precinct 2. It is to put the question on the November ballot for the voters in the Precinct 2 to decide,” Richards said.

The top of the petition sheet says, in the English portion, “Petition for Local Option Election to Legalize; to the voter registrar and Commissioners Court of Kerr County, Texas: we the undersigned qualified voters of Kerr County Precinct 2, hereby respectfully request that a local option election can be called in accordance with the terms and provisions of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code in the above-mentioned area for the purpose of submitting to the legally qualified voters of said area the determination of the following issue, to wit, for or against the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages including mixed beverages.”

Moser said that area of Kerr County would include the areas of Comanche Trace, the Hill Country Youth Event Center, Camp Verde, and the currently operating Bending Branch Winery.

“The sale of alcoholic beverages, especially wine, in Precinct 2 is very important to restaurants, convenience stores, wineries and similar business establishments,” said Moser, Precinct 2 commissioner. “I believe restaurants would be open for dinner, if the ability to sell wine existed. In addition, the ability to sell wine is important to the development of grape vineyards and wineries in Pct. 2.  I encourage residents to sign the petition to enable the voters to decide in November.”

Moser noted this effort has been tried three times before and was unsuccessful. He termed their outlook this time as “cautiously optimistic,” and said state law gave them 60 days from the date they started this to collect a certain number of petition signatures, set by law as a percentage of the precinct residents who voted in the last General Election, and then turn the petitions into Kerr County election officials.

Their time limit is up Friday, July 17, at the end of that business day, so they will continue to seek signatures through that day and then turn in the petitions.

Those signing are asked to give their name, their address as a registered voter, and signature. Their signatures and voter status will be verified by election officials after July 17.

Moser has been working with volunteers from Precinct 2.

Moser can be contacted by email at tmoser@co.kerr.tx.us, or called at 792-2215.

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