Council to vote on repealing Sunday alcohol sales prohibition

A relative newcomer to Hopkinsville led the effort to get the measure before city council.

Hopkinsville City Council will vote Tuesday, May 3, on an ordinance ending the city’s prohibition on Sunday alcohol sales in package stores, bars and restaurants — and the measure appears to have enough support to pass on first reading. 

“To me this is nothing more than the freedom to choose,” Councilman Travis Martin said during the April 21 Committee of the Whole meeting. 

Nine of the council’s 12 members were present for that meeting, and eight agreed to forward the ordinance to the next regular council meeting for a vote. 

Patricia Waddell-Bell was the only member in opposition to changing the current Sunday alcohol regulations. She said she couldn’t support ending the prohibition, which dates to 1959, and recalled the stress of controversies that erupted in 2003 and 2005 when many church members in Hopkinsville spoke against a measure that ultimately passed to allow liquor by the drink in a small number of larger restaurants. 

The ordinance up for consideration Tuesday would allow the sale of alcohol beginning at 11 a.m. on Sundays, but it would keep the prohibition on sales on Christmas Day and during any primary, special or regular election.

Councilwoman Alethea West raised an objection to lifting the prohibition during elections, which is meant to prevent people from selling their votes for drinks or possibly being intoxicated while voting. Council members have an obligation to protect the voting process, she said.

A relative newcomer to Hopkinsville began the push to change the city’s alcoholic  beverage ordinance.

Daniel Brechwald, an Army aviation officer at Fort Campbell who moved to Hopkinsville eight years ago, sees the prohibition as a burden on personal freedom and bad economic policy for the community. Brechwald plans to retire in Hopkinsville.

“Our current laws literally give the full weight of the local government — formed to protect all Hopkinsville residents — and aligns with only one moral viewpoint, a viewpoint that after 63 years does not align with the majority of the current residents, damages our economy and reduces our population,” he said during an April 6 council meeting.

Making a distinction between his personal life and his military obligations, Brechwald stressed that his opinions about alcohol sales are his alone.

To seek support for his efforts to overturn the prohibition, Brechwald launched a Facebook page, Repeal Hoptown Prohibition Laws, and distributed a petition that had about 500 signatures of support as of Monday, May 2. He created several humorous memes for social media with pop culture references, such as one with a nod to the movie “Animal House” that says, “Hoptown, as of now, you’re on double secret prohibition.”

He also filed an open records request with the city for ordinances related to alcohol regulations and researched the original prohibition on Sunday sales, which then-Mayor F. Ernest “Dutch” Lackey signed on April 21, 1959. 

Brechwald told Hoptown Chronicle he respected the compromise that keeps the prohibition in place during elections and on Christmas Day.

The city council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Hopkinsville Municipal Center, 715 S. Virginia St. The alcohol ordinance will require two readings for passage. 

Council to vote on repealing Sunday alcohol sales prohibition

Jennifer P. Brown | Hoptown Chronicle

Jennifer P. Brown is co-founder, publisher and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at editor@hoptownchronicle.org. She spent 30 years as a reporter and editor at the Kentucky New Era. She is a co-chair of the national advisory board to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, governing board president for the Kentucky Historical Society, and co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.