By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen and Harker Heights voters approved the sale of all alcoholic beverages in their respective cities Tuesday, while Kempner residents approved the sale of beer and wine.
Both cities approved the propositions by more than a 2-to-1 margin.
"I think this is a great day for Killeen and its citizens, and I am very happy that it turned out this way," said Pat Kaufman, Bell County Committee for Economic Development spokesman, the group that spearheaded the liquor option's appearance on the ballot. "I want to thank all those people who voted for it and worked on the committee to make this a success."
Both Killeen and Harker Heights held elections for a liquor option that would allow the sale of all alcoholic beverages, including package liquor.
In Killeen, the final, unofficial totals showed 7,021 votes or 66.9 percent in favor of the sale. The number residents casting ballots against the option was 3,483 or 33.1 percent.
Killeen currently operates under a Texas law that allows the city to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption of beer and wine at stores and restaurants, and mixed drinks at restaurants.
The results of the elections will allow liquor stores such as Twin Liquors and Spec's to open shops in Killeen. The boundaries set by the election are the city limits at the time of the election.
According to the BCCED, the liquor option could bring around 300 jobs to the city and about $600,000 in sales tax revenue.
"I suspect that we will start having businesses and people start making inquires into our city right away to open these stores,"
Those who opposed the liquor option said it is now in the city's hands to help manage the sale of the beverages.
"I had no illusion that this wasn't going to carry," First Baptist Church of Killeen Pastor Randy Wallace said. "Now the city council needs to act to strengthen the distances between schools, churches and the alcohol sales."
Harker Heights election
Unofficially, 2,707 Harker Heights residents voted for the city's liquor option (69.4 percent), while 1,195 residents (30.6 percent) voted against the measure.
"I just think that we worked hard, and I think the community needed this to pass, and I think that everyone got behind it to make sure it passed," said Randy Sutton, a Harker Heights member of the Bell County Committee of Economic Development.
Harker Heights won't see much of a change from the election.
A number of businesses in the city can already sell packaged alcohol in liquor stores such as Uptown Liquor in a large portion of the city. That portion of the city is within the boundaries of the city during the 1981 election, which is mostly north of U.S. Highway 190. The liquor option extended that portion of the city to present city limits.
By passing the liquor option, businesses such as convenience stores and restaurants throughout the city will have the ability to sell alcohol.
"(The results) are just the community showing they wanted to expand the boundaries," Sutton said.
Kempner residents also had a local option liquor election on Tuesday, but the issue was to decide whether to allow the sale of beer and wine within the city limits.
The option for the sale of beer and wine passed 152 votes (77.95 percent) to 43 votes (22.05 percent).
The result means businesses can sell both beer and wine at stores and restaurants.
The petition for the sale of beer and wine was started in August by the owners of The Brick Oven, a Kempner restaurant on U.S. Highway 190.
This was the first special election for the sale of alcohol in Kempner.
Holly Wise contributed to this story.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554. Follow him on Twitter at KDHheights.