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March 4, 2011

Petition drive for wet/dry vote continues

CULLMAN — The movement to put a legal alcohol sales referendum before all the voters of Cullman County has gained momentum since a petition calling for a vote began circulating almost two weeks ago.

Started by a single Bremen resident, Dale Lamar, copies of the petition asking voters countywide to support a referendum on the issue have been set out at dozens of locations, most of them convenience stores, since Lamar first began the process.

“It’s doing pretty good,” Lamar said Thursday. “I’ve collected several from stores now. I haven’t gone through and counted the names on any of it yet, but counting through what I’ve picked up just from Bremen out here, I’d estimate there’re probably a thousand names so far.”

That, he said, is just from one location — the J&D Four-Way on County Road 109 in Bremen. Several store owners have anecdotally reported similar response to the petition at their locations.

There are at least 37 locations throughout the county where Lamar makes a regular visit to pick up full stacks of petition sheets — which asks signers to print and sign their names, as well as state their voting precincts and home addresses. Not all of that information is required by law, Lamar noted, but it makes the work of employees at the Cullman County Board of Registrars’ office a lot easier when they begin the long task of verifying thousands of names.

Lamar also plans to begin submitting the petition incrementally, once he feels he’s collected enough signatures to turn in a sizable batch.

“I just want signatures; I’m not trying to turn this into a city-county thing,” said Lamar. “We can all benefit — my thought on it is just to share the wealth. We in the county can’t vote in the city, but the city can vote for everything but county [school] superintendent in the county. We have the chickens and the beef and the hogs in the county, but the city can have the hot wings and barbecue an the beef — and the beer. I don’t want a rift between the city and county over this or anything; I just want everyone to share the wealth.”

With an estimated 7,600 voters’ signatures needed to clear the board of registrars’ verification process, Lamar said he hopes to collect a significantly higher number so that the inevitable batch of ineligible signatures rejected from the final total will not thwart the effort.

“I was hoping to get to about 12,000 [signatures], because with the ones they can’t read or are not legible; the ones that get kicked out, we’ll have to have more than enough to be sure we still have enough to get a referendum on the ballot,” said Lamar.

* Read the complete story in the Friday, March 4, 2011, edition of The Cullman Times.

* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at bbullard@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.

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