Posts Tagged ‘referendum’

Jim Massey looks beyond the November referendum

October 6th, 2010 No comments

Short Mountain Distillery consultant Jim Massey speaks with the Cannon Courier on the road ahead for Short Mountain Distillery.

Massey does an excellent job addressing Short Mountain Distillery’s responsibility to the community through strict adherence to local, state and federal regulations. Below is an excerpt from the story.

The sale of liquor is not legal in Cannon County. How can Cannon County residents be assured that none of the distilled spirits will be sold locally via an underground market?

Non-compliance with the TTB rules and laws as well as the State rules and laws would result in the loss of the distiller’s license and under your scenario, both Federal and State criminal prosecution.  It would be absolutely ridiculous to risk the investment it takes to open a distillery by selling illegally.

Increased crime is a concern expressed by some opponents of the operation. What is your response to those concerns? Have you conducted any studies to determine whether crime increases in counties or communities where liquor is distilled?

I have not done any formal studies on increased crime, however, I cannot imagine that gainful artisan and agricultural jobs add to crime.  The Federal and State requirements of secure storage should deter any type of vandalism as well as the owners need to protect their valuable resources and work product.

How will the finished product be transported to market? Will there be security measures in place during transport?

Product would be shipped just as it is in Lynchburg, by secure trucks to licensed wholesalers.

How will the product be marketed and sold?

The Government requires all beverage alcohol sales to go through a 3 tier system: Manufacturer (distiller) – Wholesaler – Retailer.  Taxes are collected at each level.  SMD will be required to sell only to a licensed Wholesaler in Tennessee.  The Distillery can then buy back from the wholesaler it’s own commemorative bottles in 750 ml to have for limited sale on premises (for off premises consumption only, meaning all local laws would apply to prohibit public consumption, again, just like Lynchburg).

Some opponents are concerned a distillery will tarnish the county’s image. What is your response to those concerns, and in what way, if any, will you address them?

Distilling spirits is a time honored craft.  Our Country’s first President, George Washington, was the new nation’s largest distiller at one point.  Every signer of our Declaration of Independence participated in some form or fashion in the art of distilling.  Distilling is an agricultural process and provides our area farmers a unique opportunity to earn good money from honest work.

Cannon County schedules state’s first distillery referendum for November

August 29th, 2010 No comments

Commissioners Aug. 28, 2010 from CannonWire on Vimeo.

Somewhere around the 6 minute mark you can listen to the Cannon County Commission officially set the date of election for our distillery referendum for the November 2 general election. Video by the Cannon Wire. You can read their story here.

The Cannon Courier posted the full text of the ballot question before voters in November and are also running an online poll of how you’d vote today.

Cannon County Administrator of Elections Stan Dobson certified that enough signatures of registered voters had been obtained by the proponents of the measure.

Nine of the 10 county commissioners voted to place the items on the ballot, with Karen Ashford passing.

The question which voters will see on the ballot will be:

— To permit and legalize the manufacture of intoxicating liquors and other intoxicating drinks within the boundaries of Cannon County.

— Not to permit and legalize the manufacture of intoxicating liquors and other intoxicating drinks within the boundaries of Cannon County.

County Executive Mike Gannon said that if the question was not on the November ballot, the county would have to spend $10,000 to $15,000 in the spring of next year for a special election.

Jobs and tourism are on the November ballot in Cannon County

August 11th, 2010 3 comments

We just got word from Cannon County Administrator of Elections Stanley Dobson that our distillery petition has enough signatures and will qualify for the November 2, 2010 ballot. The certified petition will be presented to a special session of the county commission Aug. 28.

This will be Tennessee’s first distillery referendum under a new state law making it legal for distilleries to operate across the state. The new law requires a referendum process in counties where there is no liquor by the drink or package stores.

The referendum process has been a wonderful opportunity for us to meet voters and to hear their stories and their pride in our history. It’s also been an eye-opener to what we need to preserve our way of life and that’s jobs and tourism.

In November’s general election, Cannon County voters can now vote YES for jobs and tourism.

Over the next couple of months we hope you can help us give voters a reason to be proud of our agricultural heritage and what a new American brand of distilled spirits can do for community and our state.

Also read:

Special session called to address distillery referendum

August 9th, 2010 3 comments

Today’s Cannon Courier reports that County Executive Mike Gannon has called a special session of the County Commission for August 28th to address the state’s first distillery referendum. The election commission is currently in the process of validating and certifying the petition signatures we turned in last week.

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 certified, this will be the state’s first distillery referendum under a new law and will allow voters to decide whether they want jobs, tourism and revenue that will come with a new American brand of distilled spirits started right here in Cannon County.

Group turns in signatures for Tennessee’s first distillery referendum

August 6th, 2010 3 comments

(WOODBURY, TN) – A group wanting to create a Tennessee brand of distilled spirits in Cannon County, Tennessee will turn in petition signatures Friday at noon for a county wide referendum. (photo courtesy of Cannon Courier)

Cannon County farmer Billy Kaufman and supporters will deliver over 800 signatures collected over the past two months to Cannon County Election Commission Chair Stanley Dobson at noon today in Woodbury, TN. The signatures must be validated and approved by the county commission before voters can decide in the county’s November general election whether or not they want a distillery under a new state law.

If voters approve the referendum, Short Mountain Distillery will operate on Kaufman’s 300 acre farm on Short Mountain in Liberty, Tennessee.

“This is about jobs,” said Kaufman. “It’s also about tourism, revenue and the kind of sustainability we need to preserve our way of life.”

In 2009, the state legislature passed a law allowing legal distilleries across the state of Tennessee. Lawmakers put in place a referendum process for counties that do not already allow liquor by the drink or package stores. Distillery referendum petitions require a total number of signatures equal to the county’s total votes cast in the last Presidential election.

Cannon County has a rich agricultural heritage that also produced what some say was the best distilled spirits in the country before and during prohibition. Moonshine from the hills of Cannon County is specifically celebrated in old time country music songs once sung at the Grand Ole Opry by Uncle Dave Macon, Porter Wagoner and others. Tennessee is well known around the world for Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel aged whiskeys.

“Throughout this process we spoke with a lot of people, young and old, who have called Cannon County home all their life,” Kaufman said. “The support and enthusiasm people are sharing with us has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Short Mountain Distillery will bring tourism, jobs and needed county revenue while honoring the community’s history and character.

“We want to work directly with local farmers and businesses as we grow,” Kaufman said. “We want to share our local history with the world, and we want tourism to bring new opportunities for local businesses.”

Kaufman and his brothers, David and Ben, are the great-grand children of Jesse Shwayder, the founder of another well-known American brand Samsonite 100 years ago in 1910. Their grandfather, Louis Degan, ran Samsonite’s Murfreesboro, TN location for decades employing many Middle Tennesseans.

Short Mountain Distillery will be a small-batch craft distiller creating specialty brands of moonshine and aged whiskey. For more information and photos from today’s filing, visit our website at 

Short Mountain Distillery reaches petition signature goal

Cannon County residents helped us reach our petition signature goal at Saturday’s Celebration on the Square in Woodbury, TN. Hundreds of county residents weathered the brutal heat to celebrate the completion of renovations to the county’s historic courthouse.

A couple of days after the August elections, we’ll turn in the signatures we’ve gathered to place the ballot question before Cannon County voters in November. The referendum results will decide whether or not voters will allow an American brand of distilled spirits to operate on Short Mountain and bring  jobs, tourism, and revenue to the local economy.

With your support in November, Short Mountain Distillery will honor and preserve a long history of distilled craft spirits from the hills of Cannon County that at one time was said to be the finest in the country. Over the next few months we hope to give you a taste of our rich agricultural heritage here in Cannon County and help honor a way of life we hope to share with tourists from across the nation and around the world.

If you didn’t get a chance to sign our petition, you can catch us election day August 5th gathering more signatures than we need to make certain the good people of Cannon County can vote for their future in November.

Collecting signatures on the square in Cannon County

If you were in town today, you probably wondered who that was on the square with the little table, sign and an American flag. That was Billy Kaufman with John Whittemore and me. We were collecting signatures we need so the voters can decide in November whether they want a distillery in Cannon County.

In about 3 hours, we got about 20 signatures. It wasn’t what we needed, but there weren’t a lot of people out today. The square has been closed off under renovation for some time now, but it’s now open and looks pretty nice.

The Cannon Courier stopped by and took our picture and wrote up something on their website if you’d like to check that out.

If you’re in town Tuesday and Wednesday, stop by the table at the courthouse and say hi to Billy and sign our petition. If you check the thermometer to the right, we’re now 30% of the way there. We’ve got about 19 days to go, and every valid signature counts.

Local farmer sees opportunity in distillery

John WhittemoreParts of the road leading to John Whittemore’s place on Short Mountain can feel like someone’s private driveway at times. But once you’re there, you know it by his barking dogs and John’s commanding voice telling them to leave the car alone.

I caught up with John around 10 this morning to talk about signature gathering for the November referendum. John is excited about the opportunity a distillery would bring to Short Mountain and is helping gather necessary signatures to bring it to the people of Cannon County for a vote.

When I pulled up, John had just put in a good half a day’s work on his Blues Hill Farm and nearby Morning Side Farm. He looks every bit the part with his overalls, straw hat and occasional spit of tobacco juice, a habit he admits he picked up from his grandfather.

Despite the ups and downs of farming life, John says he has never been happier than he is farming. After he met his wife Becca and had two children, Hank (14) and Anna (12), John made the move back to the area in search of a quality of life he remembered growing up, and he found it on Short Mountain.

Everything John’s family needs is here. Becca, a Vanderbilt graduate, home-schools their two children. John not only appreciates local culture, he supports it in various ways. John occasionally plays with a group a friends in a band called the Short Mountain Boys. For years he provided white oak materials to local renowned basket makers through the White Oak Timber Co-Op. He even has an active Screen Actors Guild membership through acting in local performances at the Arts Center.

The Whittemores grow pretty much everything they need. They rarely shop at a grocery store, and what they don’t have they trade to get. A neighboring Mennonite family has milk and cheese. John will trade corn for beans, and there is no shortage of wild game. In fact, there’s not much you can’t get on Short Mountain, and it’s been that way for more than 100 years.

Back in the early 1900s, John’s great grandfather, Roofie Parker, made what family lore says was widely respected whiskey and moonshine. John thinks his brother Clay might have helped run it around the hills. The law didn’t like it, and Roofie spent a couple of stints in state prison for it.

Several descendants have had their share of run-ins with the law, but John’s grandfather, Kenneth Parker, didn’t like the outlaw lifestyle much. He had other ideas and bought up land around Roofie and his brother. Kenneth raised cattle and farmed the land. He has a road now named for him.

Any farmer will tell you farming is hard work. If you are looking to make a living, you’ll probably have to settle with making a life. Like most farmers, John stays busy to make ends meet, and he likes the idea of a distillery producing an American brand of traditional Tennessee spirits on Short Mountain.

For John, a distillery would protect a way of life he wants for his children. It would create a sustainable relationship with local farmers and connect tourists with a story of Short Mountain and the community John knows well and wants share. He also sees the opportunity it can bring to our schools and local community.

It’s an opportunity that can’t come to Cannon County without a referendum, and John is working hard to make that happen.

If you see John in Woodbury, stop him and say hi, and if you want to give the voters a chance to decide whether they want a distillery in Cannon County, you can sign his petition.

Signature gathering for referendum begins

A couple of days ago we started slowly gathering signatures from our friends and neighbors who want to see a new opportunity for jobs and growth come to Cannon County.

As of today, we’re 7% of the way to our goal.

Starting July 1, you can start checking the thermometer here daily to see how close we are to the total number of  signatures we need to place a referendum on the November ballot. That will allow voters to decide whether they want to allow distilleries like the one that opens this weekend in Gatlinburg, TN or the Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel distilleries.

How to help: We’ve gotten a few folks contact us letting us know they want to sign our petition. If you would like for us to visit you, please remember to include your address and phone number so we can make sure you’ll be home. Let us know if you would like to help gather signatures as well. Only registered voters of Cannon County are eligible to sign the petition.

In the news: Don’t miss the article on our effort in this week’s Cannon Courier. If you are registered for their website, you can read the story here.

Our friends: One of the guys helping gather signatures is a long time Cannon County resident and farmer John Whittemore.  John’s great grandfather was a moonshiner in Cannon County. John’s on Facebook if you want to speak with him about helping us out. Check back later this week for more information about John and why he’s helping.