By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - The Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce president supports a new political action group's attempt to allow all types of alcoholic beverages to be sold in Harker Heights and Killeen.
"I don't think that is going to be detrimental to anyone," Harker Heights Chamber President Bill Kozlik said. "I really think it is going to open businesses."
On Thursday, the Bell County Committee for Economic Growth announced that it was launching petition drives in Harker Heights and Killeen for the "legal sale of all alcoholic beverages including mixed beverages," to be placed on the ballot for the November election.
Properly zoned Harker Heights businesses can legally sell all alcoholic beverages, packaged and mixed drinks, in a large portion of the city, but southern portions of the city, everything annexed after 1981, are still considered dry.
If the petition receives 1,500 signatures from registered Harker Heights voters, it will be placed on the November ballot, a news release from the committee stated.
A majority of voters must support the issue before the entire city can legally sell all types of alcohol.
Currently, Killeen can't sell packaged alcohol, but the Killeen petition could change that. It needs 3,500 signatures to be placed on the November ballot.
"We are trying to bring everything up to the same playing field," said Fred Latham, a former Killeen mayor and a committee member.
Killeen and Harker Heights residents should see this as another economic tool to better their communities, Killeen Mayor Timothy Hancock said.
Latham and Hancock were the first two people to sign the Killeen petition Thursday.
If Killeen has the ability to sell packaged liquor, it shouldn't close liquor store businesses in Harker Heights, Kozlik said.
"When everything goes wet, then operations can spread, and restaurants can go into more places, and I think that is going to help everybody," Kozlik said. "I think the purpose of a wet-dry election is not to hurt anyone, but to keep everything on an even keel so we can get more restaurants where they are going to be."
Kozlik said he would sign the petition when it comes around to him.
"It just gives our residents another choice to shop locally and stay here locally," Kozlik said.
Texas Petition Strategies will coordinate both petition drives at cost provided by private residents of the city, said Ted Smith, a Harker Heights attorney who serves on the committee.
The petition applications have already been turned in to the Bell County Clerk's Office, which means 10 residents from each city are already backing the petition.
The petitions must be completed by July 23 for the issue to appear on the November ballot.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.