Morgan County distillery vote passes

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MORGAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Voters in Morgan County have voted to allow liquor distilleries to be built in their county.

Tuesday's voted passed by a 2-1 margin: 2,369(Y) and 1,145(N).

The vote clears the way for the former Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary to be turned into a distillery.

Don Edwards, Morgan County Executive said "It was basically a 2 to 1 vote that reflected the people of Morgan County wanting something to happen with the Brushy Mountain property so we can have some historic preservation."

The property would be developed into a distillery and resort complex complete with an RV park, museum, horseback trials, a hotel and plenty of other attractions.

The Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary Distillery would bring hundreds of jobs to Morgan County, revenue and possibly lower taxes. However, not everyone in the county is happy about the decision.

"I don't think the people of Morgan County are excited that it's going to be a distillery. I think they are excited about some development taking place on the Brushy property which is really a historic landmark." said Edwards

It's a place that's been around for more than a hundred years and has had notable inmates like the man who killed Martin Luther King Jr., James Earl Ray.

"Without development it's simply going to decay and get rundown. Something the citizens don't want that to happen." said Edwards.

Since the vote has been passed; Morgan County is now one step closer to welcoming tourist to their piece of history.

Edwards said "What we want to see here is a resort complex with tourist hustling and bustling. We need economic development and a place for good paying jobs in Morgan County."

The state still needs to approve the development and once that's complete work on the resort will begin. If all goes well we could see progress within a year.

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