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Dry forces organizing

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County accepts petition and sets date for local-option election

By John Whitlock

Beech Grove Baptist Church Pastor Steve Delany acknowledges keeping Owen County dry will be an uphill battle. In talking to local officials, Delaney was told the ratio for people talking to magistrates in favor of going wet is 10-1. But as he spoke Monday night as part of a meeting of Citizens For A Dry Owen County, Delaney said his side could prevail. “It’s going to be difficult but this is a winnable fight,” Delaney said. “It’s not something that just a few people can do. We have to be united, dig a little deeper and get our message out with solid facts.” Earlier this month, a petition calling for Owen County to become wet was accepted by county officials with 1,025 verified names. The local-option election will be held July 26. But in the meantime, opponents have begun to muster. Delaney said volunteers will split into several task forces including research, publicity, poll workers and prayer with each group assigned specific tasks. The research task force will be dedicated to finding statistics and facts that could show the harmful effects of increased alcohol sales. “There has been some misinformation out there,” Delaney said. “We want to make sure we are ready with facts.” The publicity task force will be in charge of getting the word out to every Owen County citizen. Delaney said this would include going door-to-door to spread their message. “We have to get this information out to everyone,” Delaney said. “We’ll hit the streets and check to make sure everyone knows the facts.” Mobilizing everyone who opposes expanded alcohol sale will be the key to victory, Delaney said. “The success or failure of our campaign depends on us,” Delaney said. “We can get this defeated.” During the meeting, several questions were posed by members of the group as they began to plan their strategy. According to Owen County Clerk Joan Kincaid, the official question on the ballot will read, “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Owen County,” meaning dry supporters would vote “no” and supporters of expanded sales would vote “yes.” Kincaid said anyone not registered to vote but wants to take part in the local-option election can sign-up after Tuesday. The last day to register for the local-option election will be June 28. Each side has the opportunity to nominate volunteers to work the polls to ensure a fair vote. The deadline to sign up as a poll worker will be July 6 and the county board of elections will decide who will work the polls between July 11-16. “Party (affiliation) plays no part in this decision,” Kincaid said. “Both groups are free to nominate whoever they want.” Owen County Magistrate Troy Bramblett, who attended Monday night’s meeting, said he was “still on the fence” about the issue and weighing the possible moral objections and possible financial issues of both sides. Bramblett said the most important issue is that citizens not become divided over the issue and urged everyone involved to keep the debate civil. “When this is all over, no matter who wins, we have to remember that we are all still Owen countains and we have to stay united for the good of our future,” Bramblett said. Delaney said he was pleased with the turnout for Monday’s meeting. Although around 35 people turned out, Delaney said he saw many new faces and is encouraged. “I think it went well,” Delaney said. “There are a lot of people who oppose this. It is defeatable but now is the time for us to get busy and get the word out.”