Special County Commission Session Needed For Distillery Referendum

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Before a new Cannon County Commission takes office on Sept. 1, the current members will meet one last time to address some pressing business.

One is the petition for a referendum that, if approved by voters, would permit the operation of a distillery in Cannon County.

Cannon County Administrator of Elections Stan Dobson was in the process Monday morning of certifying the signatures on the petition for the referendum, which was presented to him Friday by a group of citizens hoping to start Short Mountain Distillery.

The election office must certify that the petition contains the names of 10 percent or more of the qualified voters of Cannon County, based upon the number of votes cast in the 2008 presidential election, according to state law.

The group turned in over 800 signatures Friday. According to the election office, 554 were needed to hold a referendum.

However, before a referendum can be held, the petition must be received by the Cannon County Commission. Commissioners will not vote on whether the referendum will take place, only that they have received a petition for one which contains the required number of signatures from registered county voters.

If Dobson's office certifies that enough of the names are valid, he will present that information to the commissioners at their next meeting.

Timeliness is an issue if the referendum is going to be on the November ballot. Dobson said the commission must receive the petition at least 60 days before Nov. 2 in order for that to be possible.

The commission is not scheduled to meet in regular session again until October. However, County Executive Mike Gannon said Monday he was planning to call a special session for Saturday, August 28.

Official notice of the meeting will be in next week's Cannon Courier. Notification of a commission meeting, whether regular or special session, must be made to the public at least 10 days prior to it being held.

If the referendum is on the Nov. 2 ballot and receives voter approval, Short Mountain Distillery will operate on Cannon County farmer Billy Kaufman's 300 acre farm on Short Mountain in Liberty.

Gannon said Monday that there are other matters the commissioners must act on which are timely, such as whether to adopt building codes for the county or fall under State Fire Marshal regulations which take effect Oct. 1, and updating the county's floodplain ordinance.
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