New liquor vote set in Pigeon Forge; breakdown of arrest numbers

11:18 PM, Jan 18, 2013   |    comments
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Pigeon Forge voters will go back to the polls to vote on liquor by the drink for the fourth time in four years.

The election commission has set the date for March 14th.

A judge ordered a new election last week after he ruled there were 300 more votes cast than there are residents in Pigeon Forge. He did not find any fraud in the case.

Currently 11 restaurants are continuing to serve liquor. The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission said they can continue to do so until a judge orders them to stop.

The fourth time around the arguments have not gotten any less heated.

"It [Liquor] gives everyone a choice. It's dollars for our city, for our businesses, for our schools," said Ken Maples with Forging Ahead, a pro-liquor group.

"If you look at what the liquor side has said from day one, we need tax revenue for the children. Our side says no, it's going to kill the children," said Jess Davis of Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge (CCCPF), the anti-liquor group who filed the lawsuit.

One of CCCPF's main arguments has been that adding liquor to the menu will cause more alcohol related arrests.

10News asked Pigeon Forge police for arrest records since liquor by the drink was first allowed in December.

Compared to the same month the year before, the number of alcohol related arrests went down.

Pigeon Forge Police Department
December 14, 2011 through January 14, 2012
Driving under the Influence: 5

Public Intoxication: 6

Underage Consumption: 1

December 14, 2012 through January 14, 2013
Driving under the Influence: 5

Public Intoxication: 4

Underage Consumption: 0

CCCPF say they don't think enough time has passed to test the numbers yet. Instead they look at their neighboring cities, Gatlinburg and Sevierville, that sell liquor.

"It's overwhelming the amount of alcohol related arrests that occur in those two towns," said Davis.

10News requested the same arrest record from Gatlinburg and Sevierville.

Gatlinburg Police Department
December 14, 2012 - January 14, 2013
Driving under the Influence - 5

Public Intoxications - 45

Underage Consumption - 0

Sevierville Police Department
December 14, 2012 - January 14, 2013
Driving Under the Influence: 12

Public Intoxication: 13

Underage Consumption: 2

It's up to voters to make the call yet again. But both sides aren't wasting any time selling their arguments.

"We're geared up and ready to go. We have our plan in place," said Maples.

"We've been talking about that in two meetings this week we have another one tomorrow," said Davis.

Pro liquor group forging ahead says they are sticking with the same message-- liquor adds tax revenue.

But CCCPF are changing their message to focus on what they call citizens rights.

They disagree with the city's laws that allow people who own property but don't live there to vote in the election.

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