Editorial - No hangover; By-the-drink alcohol sales in Radcliff haven't set off array of problems.

Article - Presence of alcohol apparently not ruining Radcliff


A year ago, opponents bet that allowing alcohol sales in Radcliff would trigger some sort of apocalyptic reaction.

DUIs would skyrocket. Drunkards would wander the community. Liquor stores would stake roots on every street corner.

Radcliff, alcohol opponents tried to scare people into believing, would become a hell on earth.

Almost a year after voters passed by-the-drink sales, anti-wet forces' predictions look more the work of Casey Stengel than Edgar Casey. None of their prophecies have materialized.

Not surprisingly, liquor sales have had little widespread effect - positive or negative.

DUIs in Radcliff are down and alcohol-related problems simply haven't cropped up. At the same time, there hasn't been the flood of new businesses that some supporters expected.

After all, alcohol, despite a decades-old ban, always has been in Hardin County, with resident regularly trekking to nearby Meade and Nelson counties for booze. The alcoholic beverage trade is just more visible now.

If anything, the time since the election and the sales of the first drinks has shown that alcohol opponents never understood the motives of those pushing to erase prohibition. It had nothing to do with getting tanked. Rather, it was a campaign for availability, convenience and freedom of choice.

Of course, no one who vehemently stood against allowing sales will stand back up and admit to being wrong. But they probably wouldn't hesitate to point fingers in the faces of proponents had the results been harmful to the community.

Considering the calm that has ensured, one has to wonder what might actually happen if legalized sales spread to the rest of the county, where efforts have failed in the past.

Like it or not, the face of Hardin County changes every day. New residents move in. New businesses open. New approaches and ideas surface.

We shouldn't be so quick to dismiss them. Many people will, however, as evidenced through the long-standing feud over alcohol.

There are other important issues to tackle to keep the area thriving. Instead, it seems that some - despite what has happened in Radcliff the last several months - would rather wage war against legalized sales based on tradition rather than on progress.

Presence of alcohol apparently not ruining Radcliff
Article - by Suzanne Nagel, Staff Writer
Naysayers predicted that Radcliff would sink to grim depths once restaurants began mixing up potent potables and keeping beer on tap.
Their fears: drunken driving arrests would rise, alcohol-related accidents would climb and the moral fiber of the town would deteriorate.
Six months after the first drink was served at El Camino Real - the first Radcliff restaurant to receive a permit to sell alcohol - that simply hasn't happened, town officials said.
Instead, drunken driving arrest have dropped, accidents haven't been linked to alcohol served in local establishments and it's been business as usual as restaurants take a low-key approach to serving drinks.
Beside El Camino Real, three other restaurants now have licenses to legally sell beer, wine and mixed drinks by the glass: Los Nopales, Fu Kim Chinese & American Buffet and Golden China Buffet. A fifth restaurant, the Oriental House, started the process, but has not decided whether to complete it.
Kathy Weisner, Alcohol Beverage Control administrator, said the process has gone smoothly since Radcliff officials adopted the liquor-by-the-drink plan in early January.
"It's gone very well. We're all learning how to do our paperwork," said Weisner, who was appointed ABC administrator in December on top of her duties as Mayor Sheila Enyart's executive assistant.
Weisner has had to work through rough spots in the city's ABC ordinance and changes in the state licensing procedures since taking on the job. She and ABC officers perform routine inspections of licensed restaurants to make sure they aren't violating state and local codes.
"We haven't had the first problem," Weisner said. "All of the restaurant owners have been absolutely, totally cooperative. I haven't had to issue a single warning."
The public has had little to say, either, about alcohol sales.
"Not one complaint of any kind has come to my office," Weisner said, rapping her table for luck.
In fact, residents have brought little attention to the issue since voters approved by-the-drink sales last year, except for some people speaking out against Sunday alcohol sales.
"There was never a whole lot of hoopla," Enyart said. "The churches took a stand, but they didn't protest widely."
That could be because the referendum put severe limits on just how much alcohol can be sold, effectivly guaranteeing that Radcliff would not sprout bars and nightclubs. Licenses are only available to country clubs and restaurants that seat at least 100 people and derive a least 70 percent of their proceeds from food sales.
Alcohol proponents led a quiet campaign, then made alot of noise in the November vote, when they outnumbered opponents 3,258 to 2,185.
Determining just how much restaurants are profiting from alcohol sales has been difficult since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Business dropped at some because patrons who live on Fort Knox had trouble getting to and from the restaurants. Despite the problems, Los Nopales owner Ignacio Roman said he has been more than pleased since posting his liquor license July 1.
"My business has increased by 25 percent," Roman said. "After the terrorist attacks, lunchtime was a little slow, but dinnertime made up for it. Many of may Elizabethtown customers are coming to Radcliff for dinner."
Charlie Lin, manager of Golden China Buffet, said customers tell him that they are glad the restaurant began selling alcohol September 28, although it hasn't made a big difference in profits.
"It does help. It is OK, but it's not a major part of our business," he said.
Managers of El Camino Readl and Fu Kim did not return messages.
The wet vote could have even bigger implications for Radcliff, which hopes to lure more restaurants. Although no chains have announced plans to build establishments in Radcliff, it seems a likely course.
"We get a lot of phone calls," Weisner said. "Most of the time, we don't even know who we're dealing with because they go through real-estate agents of their attorneys."
Although the future is uncertain, there have been some positive signs. Police Chief Donald Bloodworth said drunken driving arrest have fallen since last year. There were 94 drunken driving incidents the first six months of 2001, compared to 115 the six months prior. There have been just 41 arrests since July.
City Councilwoman, Jeanette Stephens, who voted against the by-the-drink referendum, said she believes that people are drinking responsibly.
"I can't see that our DUIs have increased. I haven't read anywhere that our citizens are being killed concerning alcohol," she said. "The citizens of Radcliff are handling alcohol in a responsible manner."
She also thinks that fears that Radcliff will turn into a slum are unfounded. The city, she said, will likely never have bars or strip clubs.
"Radcliff will continue to be a city in which you can raise a family and be safe," she said.
Enyart, however, is taking a wait-and-see attitude. "I don't think it has made a huge difference in the number of meals that are served," she said. "I'd like to have a year under our belts before we have an assessment." What she can see however, is that little has changed in the way the restaurants do business. "It's really and truly astonishing how really little attention is drawn to the alcohol," she said.