FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2013
For further information,
Contact: Ken Maples
Forging Ahead has set an early voting rally for this Saturday, February 23, at the Mellow Mushroom on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Forging Ahead is the Pigeon Forge community group supporting continuing liquor-by-the-drink sales in licensed restaurants to generate funds for the city’s three public schools.
The rally will be from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and will feature free rides to the polls to allow voters to cast their ballots early. Also at the rally: free pizza, soft drinks, games and information about the issue.
“We are just trying to get the word out that early voting is available and we are trying to get folks excited about it,” said Bill Duncan, the treasurer of Forging Ahead. “At the same time, we can offer everyone a fun morning.”
He said all registered voters in Pigeon Forge are invited to attend the rally and get a ride to the early voting location regardless of his or her position on the issue.
Mellow Mushroom is located at 2485 on the Parkway.
Forging Ahead will use the rally to drive home the fact that the three schools in Pigeon Forge will benefit from taxes generated by alcohol sales in restaurants. Currently, only beer and wine are legal for restaurant sales.
The liquor-by-the-drink taxes generated by mixed drink sales in Gatlinburg and Sevierville, where they are allowed, have greatly improved school funding in those cities. Schools in Gatlinburg last year received $453,825 from liquor-by-the-drink taxes, and schools in Sevierville received $105,929. Pigeon Forge schools received nothing.
Last November, Pigeon Forge voters approved alcohol sales in licensed restaurants. But due to mistakes on Election Day, a judge ordered that a new election be held. After the last election, eleven Pigeon Forge restaurants applied for and received permits to begin selling mixed drinks and have been doing so for the past several weeks. The current election will determine whether these sales will be allowed to continue or will be halted.
“Already, some taxes have been generated in just the few weeks since alcohol sales in restaurants became legal in Pigeon Forge,” Duncan said. “So our schools already have begun to benefit. It would be a travesty to stop that valuable support for our children and our teachers at this point.”
Early voting will be held at the Sevier County Election Commission office at 1145 Dolly Parton Parkway from this Friday, Feb. 22, to March 9, with hours running from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until noon Saturday. The regular election is set for March 14.
Duncan said the rally this Saturday is the first of three such events that will be held every Saturday during early voting.