Cave Spring

Cave Spring voters have started weighing in on four ballot questions about the sale of distilled spirits in the city limits.

Elections Supervisor Judy Dickinson said early voting started Monday and will run through March 15, on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in City Hall. Voting will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day, March 19.

Dickinson said one ballot had been cast Monday — hers.

"But I expect a good many early voters," she said. "You never know what Election Day will be like; it could be cold or raining."

The city already allows beer and wine sales. Adding distilled spirits would clear the way for a craft distillery touted as a potential tourism draw.

Two out-of-town businessmen want to capitalize on Cave Spring's famed water to open a micro-distillery in a downtown historical building next to The Peddler antiques store on Alabama Street. In addition to making flavored spirits, they'd have a sipping room and store on site.

The four ballot questions — the only items up for a vote in this election — are phrased in lengthy legalese but can be answered simply yes or no.

Question 1 would allow distilled package sales from Monday through Saturday. Question 2 would allow distilled spirits to be served by the drink from Monday through Saturday. Questions 3 and 4 are repetitions that would extend the sales to Sundays, from 12:30 p.m. in the afternoon to 11:30 p.m. at night.

"If this passes, the next step would be for the City Council to put an ordinance in place," Dickinson said. "It wouldn't go into effect immediately."

Just over 600 voters are on the active list, eligible to cast ballots, but Dickinson said fewer than half typically turn out.

"In 2015, when we voted on Sunday sales, 237 voted in person and we had 32 absentees. That was the last time we had a referendum," she said.

In 2017, for the City Council elections, 221 people voted in person and nine absentee ballots were sent in.