Questions arise at BOE

Published 10:57 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Did the person or people who passed the petitions to place alcohol sales options on the November ballot lie to get the needed signatures? Did that person file all the necessary paperwork? And will people in one eastern end precinct vote on an option that is not even in their precinct?

Those are some of the questions the Lawrence County Board of Elections fielded Tuesday afternoon when it heard four protests to the several options on the ballot.

Proctorville Mayor Charles Stapleton pointed out that one of the Clark’s Pump N Shops for which sales have been requested is in his village, but the board of elections staff mistakenly listed the store as being in another precinct. That section of Rome Township was annexed several years ago but the annexation had not been noted at the elections office. Stapleton and village council president Dale Burcham both argued that it would unfair — and illegal — for Proctorville residents to not be allowed to vote on an issue that affects them.

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“We are a small village on the Ohio River,” Stapleton said. “We don’t have (any) problems with alcohol up there, we don’t want (any) problems with alcohol up there. We want to be left alone.”

Stapleton and Burcham also told the board some of the people who signed those petitions were misled about what they were signing and are not happy about it.

“They were snookered,” Stapleton said.

Burcham wondered if the person who circulated the petition in Proctorville had turned in the necessary paperwork: If the person is paid to circulate the petitions — and Burcham suspects that was the case — then the person must file a separate document with the Lawrence County Board of Elections.

Burcham said the person who passed the petition apparently lives in Columbus.

“I doubt she came down here because she just likes Lawrence County,” he said.

Elections Director Cathy Overbeck said she did not know if the person had filed the necessary paperwork, and told the protesters it is up to the circulator to ask an elections office for the paperwork.

Eddie Edwards, of Rome Township, said one Clark’s Pump N Shop is within 10 feet of Rome Church of Christ, where he and his family attend. Though his son, Ted, submitted the actual protest, Eddie Edwards said he, his wife and son signed it because they were misled. Carl Rice, of Coal Grove, lives next door to the Clark’s store. He also submitted a protest. Why? His answer was succinct.

“I don’t like it and I don’t want it,” he told the elections officials. He said he knew of people in Coal Grove who were also misled about what they were asked to sign.

Sue Rodriguez, of Ironton, filed her written protest a few minutes after the deadline, but told the board Tuesday she thought Ironton had enough places to sell alcohol already. She also said her family owns a carryout and the proposals to sell alcohol at the Rich Oil and Third and Monroe streets and the Speedway on Liberty Avenue would cut into her business.

In the end, the board agreed to investigate whether the circulator filed the necessary paperwork and told the group in attendance if they had been misled, they should call the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office.

The board also agreed to ask the prosecutor’s office for legal advice on issues raised by the protesters.