Not everyone is happy with the way it turned out, but voters decided to keep Blount County dry. Those in support of alcohol sales aren't counting this as a loss, saying the numbers give them some hope. Still, those in support of a dry county are glad for Tuesday's results.
"I enjoy walking into a store and not seeing beer and walking into a restaurant and not seeing beer," Larry Gipson, pastor of First Baptist Church Oneonta, said. "We were elated that it was defeated."
Gipson is a member of the group "Keep Blount County Special."
"Because of the negativity of alcohol and we understand it contributes to numerous deaths every year and we also understand it also contributes to other things that are not good," Gipson said.
The months leading up to Tuesday's vote saw plenty of controversy. Both the pro-wet and pro-dry sides claiming they had been harassed by the opposition and some voters claiming they were fraudulently added to a petition calling for a wet/dry vote.
"For us, we are not calling it a loss," Lisa Wester said.
Wester is on the pro-wet side of things. She says although the referendum did not pass, there is hope for her in the numbers.
"For us it's a victory. When we voted on this four years ago in 2008 we lost by around 3,700 votes. Yesterday we lost by about 160 votes county wide. We had the largest voter turnout that Blount County has ever seen," Lester said.
As for the next step, Wester and her fellow pro-wet supporters say they will keep fighting for legal sales in the county and Gipson says his group will continue to push back.
"We started the process to do all we could to keep it out of Blount County and we'll do it again," Gipson said.
Wester's group plans to try to overturn House Bill 175. If they do that, then cities within Blount County would be able to vote on whether or not to go wet as municipalities rather than the county as a whole.
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