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Package store referendum passes

Norris and Rocky Top to see new faces on council

Clinton voters chose overwhelmingly to allow retail alcohol package stores to operate in the city, in the Nov. 3 General Election.

Voters approved package stores by a vote of 2,796 to 1,404, which was 67% to 33%.

The referendum was put on the ballot through a petition supported by The Hollingsworth Companies. The petition drive was begun in mid-July by Tracy Hooper, property manager of the Carriage Hill/Carriage Trace apartments, a Hollingsworth property, Hooper said.

Hooper said at the time that she didn’t know of anyone yet who had any interest in opening a package store in Clinton, but rumors since have suggested that up to three stores might be planned.

Lee Hickman, pastor of Black Oak Baptist Church – outside the city limits – led a campaign in opposition to the stores.

He said earlier that he believed there must be someone wanting to set up a store, or the issue wouldn’t have been brought up at this time.

Hickman said he doesn’t buy the argument that opening liquor stores in Clinton would be a good thing just because they might bring in some extra tax dollars.

“Every single study I’ve seen shows that when these stores come into a city like ours, you’ll be paying more to keep things under control than whatever tax revenue you’ll get from it,” he said.

Hooper said earlier that, “Mr. Hollingsworth supports it, and we think it would be good for the town.”

“It would bring in jobs and tax revenue,” she said.

“I think it’s kind of silly we’re the only city in Anderson County that doesn’t allow liquor sales. Right now, people have to go to Norris, Rocky Top or Oak Ridge.”

By state law, city voters may choose whether to approve or reject package stores, but once they are approved, they are regulated and licensed by the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and cities have virtually no control over them other than zoning, according to Clinton City Manager Roger Houck.

Neither Houck nor the city council took a position on the issue.

Newcomers win

Norris council seats

Two new members are joining the Norris City Council, after winning their seats in the Nov. 3 General Election, and are in line to be mayor and vice-mayor.

New candidate William P. Grinder led the overall balloting with 654 votes, followed by another newcomer, Jill Holland, who polled 646.

They were two of six candidates vying for five seats on the council.

Re-elected to the council were the current mayor, Chris Mitchell, who came in third place with 625 votes, followed by Bill Grieve (604) and Loretta Ann Painter (561).

Incumbent Ron Hill lost his re-election bid, coming in last place with 551 votes.

Under Norris tradition, the top vote-getter usually is chosen by the council to serve as mayor, which would go to Grinder.

The vice-mayor spot usually goes to the second-place winner, who was Holland.

But there are indications the tradition might not be carried on this time.

By rule, the council must vote on whom to choose for the posts, and that will happen Dec. 14.

Green, Job win

Rocky Top seats

Newcomer Zack Green and incumbent Juston Job won the two open seats on the Rocky Top City Council in last week’s general election.

Green led the voting with 321 votes, or 48.34-percent of the total votes cast.

Job tallied 271 votes, or 40.81-percent.

Coming in a distant third place, with 72 votes, was write-in candidate Katie Hurst, who also calls herself Katie Styles.

Hurst claimed to have moved into Rocky Top in October to make herself eligible to serve on the council, but did not make the deadline to have her name actually placed on the ballot.

She conducted her campaign mostly on social media, based on a platform of removing “wicked” homeless people from the city.

The mayor’s position, which is elected in Rocky Top, was not on the ballot, but will be on the next ballot, in 2022, along with the two other council seats. Tim Sharp is the current mayor.