Just when Sharp County citizens thought the back and forth battle was over, the Save Energy Reap Taxes (SERT) group struck back.
SERT has hired attorney Jeremy Lowrey of Sheridan to appeal Circuit Court Judge Phillip Smith's decision to remove the wet/dry issue from the November ballot.
In September, Yota Shaw and Morris Street filed against the petitions to place the wet/dry issue on the ballot. Judge Harold Erwin then filed a temporary injunction removing the issue from the ballot until a formal hearing was held.
During the three day hearing, Judge Smith heard both sides of the argument. Shaw's attorney, David Blair, said the petitions were not presented correctly and the people who signed them were misled.
Blair's star witness, Dawn Reed, who is a document examiner, testified that many of the signatures on the petitions shared common authorship. Common authorship, Reed explained, means she saw similarities in the signatures which led her to believe some of the signatures were signed by the same person.
In his ruling, Judge Smith determined that 461 signatures on the petitions were invalid. After removing the invalid signatures, the petitions fell short of the required 38 percent of signatures from registered Sharp County voters, requiring the issue to be removed from the November ballots.
Lowrey said the appeal will go straight to the Supreme Court. "Historically, the court has expedited this kind of case," Lowrey said. Lowrey is hoping for a ruling on the case before the November elections.
Lowrey said they have to wait on the transcripts and records from the hearing to be finished before they can file the appeal. The judge who handles the appeal will review the records and testimonies along with the evidence from the hearing and decide if he agrees with Judge Smith's ruling. Lowrey said, generally, there is no hearing held for an appeal.
The appeal was formally filed Oct. 3 with the Sharp County Clerk's office. Stu Freigy, a SERT member, said he feels there were many discrepancies in Judge Smith's ruling.
"Most everybody has pointed to me on this. I represent a committee," Morris Street said. "The committee voted to go forward with this and since only one person can file the suit my name was on it."
Street said he had not heard from their attorney that an appeal had been filed. "I will have to get together with the committee and start getting the money to support our lawyer for this matter," Street said. "We have come this far, we're not going to back down now."
Freigy said if people want to continue to live like it is still the 1920s that's fine with him but he wants the voters to have that choice. "If it goes to a vote and we lose, we're gonna hang it up," Freigy said. "We just want the people to be able to decide."