JUNCTION CITY — Junction City residents are only days away from being able to purchase alcohol in the city.
Beer could appear on shelves as early as this week and liquor will follow suit in about a month, city police chief and local Alcohol Beverage Control administrator Merl Baldwin told the Junction City Council on Tuesday.
So far, three merchants have completed local requirements for the unlimited amount of retail malt beverage licenses, and submitted applications to the Kentucky ABC Department, which ultimately awards the licensees. The businesses — Redi Mart/Shell on U.S. 127, Quick Stop/Marathon on Hustonville Road and Don & Pattie’s Service Center on West Shelby Street — could have licensees in hand later this week or early next week, Baldwin said.
“When they hear from the merchants, the (beer) distributers will get a truck loaded up, and it might be the following day that they’re here,” he said.
Owners of the Hardee’s/BP station off U.S. 127 may have to wait a bit longer. They have also picked up an application to sell malt beverages and advertised their intent but are awaiting corporate approval before continuing the process, Baldwin said.
By that time, liquor could be on its way, as well. The state ABC¿intends to award the city’s two package liquor licenses in 30 to 45 days, Baldwin said.
Officials will have to choose between three applicants, only one of whom — Jackie Antle of Antle’s Food Mart on Hustonville Road — currently operates a business in the city.
Jeff Baird, owner of The Bottle Shoppe in Danville, also applied and intends to lease the current Auto Connection building on Margus Drive if he is awarded one of the licenses. Similarly, Ray Grubbs plans to utilize a piece of property he partially owns on the same street if the state rules his way, Baldwin said.
“I wish they would give us all thee of them because it’s a good generator of revenue for our city,”¿he said.
In 2012, through licensing fees alone, the city stands to gain $200 for each retail beer license and $600 for each package liquor license. The city also would earn $1,000 from any applicant restaurant, hotel, motel or inn that meets requirements to sell alcohol by the drink, according to the ordinance.
In addition, the city will receive money from alcohol-related taxes and business licenses of new alcohol distributors.
All alcohol-related revenues must be used for law enforcement purposes, but Baldwin noted that requirement encompasses a broad spectrum of expenses, from salaries to office supplies. The stipulation also frees up general fund money currently allocated for law enforcement, he said.
“It will help us amazingly a lot,” Baldwin said. “I really don’t see a negative from it.”
City Councilman Sherril Wall noted that residents of surrounding dry counties are likely to visit as well, which could boost the entire local economy.
“We’ll get the people from Lincoln County, Casey County, Russell County and maybe more,”¿he said.
Not all residents feel as optimistic about alcohol sales in the city, as evidenced by the 198-195 vote in October that allowed the city to go wet.
But the introduction of alcohol and the proceeding revenue is “proof positive” that the city is progressing and modernizing to stay healthy and provide quality services for residents, Baldwin said.
“This is a big time for Junction City,” he said.