Voters pave way for expanded liquor service in Sedgwick

Posted March 13, 2013, at 4:22 p.m.

SEDGWICK, Maine — Pull up a barstool, because the taps are open in Sedgwick.

Residents here voted overwhelmingly in two separate referendums to allow alcohol to be served for in-house consumption in Sedgwick restaurants. The dual approvals clear the way for bars to open in Sedgwick, which was previously impossible.

Voters were presented two questions during the March 1 election, one asking whether to allow the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption Monday through Saturday, and a separate question on allowing libations to be served on Sundays.

The Monday-through-Saturday proposal was approved 185-50. Serving on Sundays had slightly less support, with a final vote tally of 173-65.

The sale of alcohol meant to be consumed at home was already legal in Sedgwick, and two shops sell beer, wine and liquor for private use. Now, restaurants in town can apply for licenses to serve boozy drinks at their establishments.

The referendums were proposed by Sedgwick restaurators Jill Smith and Michael Rossney, who own The Milbrook Co. and El El Frijoles, respectively. Efforts in previous years to make in-house alcohol service legal had all failed.

Rossney has said he has no intention of serving alcohol at his restaurant, which he co-owns with his wife, Michele Levesque, and Smith said she’s unsure whether her new eatery will serve spirits. Both said they petitioned for the libatious expansion to put Sedgwick on equal footing with neighboring towns, which all allow on-premises licenses.

After Prohibition ended in 1933, Maine towns were given the option of allowing liquor licenses or not. Over the years, some dry towns have changed their tunes; last year, Cushing reversed course and allowed the sale of alcohol within its borders; in 2009, Friendship and Morrill did the same.

There are still about 56 completely dry communities in the state, according to Lt. Scott Ireland of the Maine State Police Office of Liquor Licensing and Compliance.

Two-hundred forty-three Sedgwick voters turned out for the election, far more than the 60 who cast ballots in the previous year, when there were no contests for selectmen or school board members.

In the contested race for Second Selectman, Nelson Grindal edged incumbent Colby Pert, 131-110. In uncontested races, Town Clerk Cynthia Reilly, Road Commissioner Paul Carter and School Committee members Clare Grindal and Ashley Pesek were all re-elected. Susan Ford won another uncontested race for School Committee.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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