Colchester votes to allow alcohol sales

By DEVIN BROOKS, News Reporter

COLCHESTER, Illinois (NEWS3) — Voters in Colchester approved alcohol sales Tuesday, Nov. 3 after more than 80 years.

“It’s great,” Colchester resident Jennifer Anderson said.  “We were surprised.”

The town of about 1,500 last voted on the referendum in 1973.

“Now people can walk to the gas station and get their alcohol,” Colchester resident Teresa Hammond said.

It took 225 signatures to get the measure on the ballot, but Colchester resident Randy Wear went door-to-door and received 270 names.

“I woke up with a big smile,” Wear said. “I thought all the walking around town was well paid for.”

It was the fourth time since 1937 the city has taken up a vote to lift the ban on alcohol sales.

“It was clear what people were saying to younger voters, to vote ‘no,’” Anderson said.

Now that the city has the green light to sell liquor, Colchester First Ward Alderman Eric Haines, who first brought the idea to the city council, said it could take time before residents can buy a cold one in town. 

“First we have to go through the state and make ordinances in town,” Haines said.

Residents like Anderson, who moved to Colchester four years ago, said her neighbors have waited a long time for this to happen. 

“Hopefully it’s going to bring a lot of income back into Colchester,” Anderson said.

City officials said they believe the measure has been voted down in the past because of the wording of the ordinance that confuses voters. It read, “Shall the sale at retail of alcoholic liquor continue to be prohibited in the City of Colchester, McDonough County, Illinois?”

The final vote was 108 (26 percent) ‘yes’ and 408 (74 percent) ‘no.’ The approval will only apply to packaged liquor and allow the city to issue two alcoholic licenses.

Haines said he hopes the city can also bring gaming into town next to collect more revenue.