Bethel hasn’t been under a local option alcohol ban since 2015, when Bethel voted to make liquor licenses available in Bethel again. With the local option petition submitted by Evon Waska Sr. and certified by the City Clerk’s office this past May, voters will see this question on the October 2 ballot:
“Shall the City of Bethel adopt a local option to prohibit the sales of alcoholic beverages,” said City Clerk Lori Strickler. “The community would not have a liquor store. It would not have a bar or a restaurant or eating place license. All legal sales for alcohol would stop.”
In essence, Bethel would revert to the so-called "damp" status it had prior to October 2010. Possession of alcohol would be legal. People would still be able to order alcohol in by freight, but there would be a limit. The state Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office's Sarah Oates explained the limits in more detail.
“They would be limited in one calendar month to 10.5 liters of distilled spirits, 24 liters of wine, one half keg, or 12 gallons, of malt beverage,” said Oates.
It's important to note that these are either/or options, not both. That means 10.5 liters of liquor per month, or 24 liters of wine, or one half keg of malt beverage, typically beer, per month. State statute also requires that should Bethel go into this particular type of local option, freight shipments would be tracked. And even if they broke their orders up throughout a calendar month, the customers would still be bound to those total amounts.
On flights, limits would enforce only up to one liter or less of distilled spirits, or two liters or less of wine, or one gallon or less of malt beverages. No limits are in place currently, said Oates, and should local option pass, it would not take effect immediately.
“Ninety days after the results of the election are certified is when the stores, all licenses would have to cease operation,” Oates said.
In a local option area, bootlegging is a Class C felony and so is selling alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. A petition put forward by council member Mitchell Forbes attempted to lower violations from a felony to a misdemeanor, but that specific local option petition didn’t receive enough signatures to make the October ballot.