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Brushy Mountain distillery plans in Morgan Co. move forward

11:33 PM, Aug 24, 2013   |    comments
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Legal moonshine could soon come to the mountains of one East Tennessee community.

Morgan County residents attended a meeting Saturday afternoon in Petros to discuss developers' plans to convert the old Brushy Mountain State Prison to a distillery.

The developers, named the Brushy Mountain Group, say their plan could bring almost 400 indirect and direct jobs to Morgan County within 5 years. The plan would also bring a new restaurant, RV park and trails to the area.

More Information: Brushy Mountain Group Website

The plan's been in the works for about a year and recently, it's passed some hurdles. In July, the Morgan County Commission said supporters of the distillery needed to get 700 signatures to put a referendum to the county's registered voters. The referendum would allow the distillery to be built in Morgan County, which is dry.

Morgan County Economic Development Director Lisa Rutherford said she has received 1,500 signatures; about 900 of them have been certified as actual registered voters.

Rutherford said she expects to have a countywide vote on the matter by the end of the year.

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The developers' other big step will be to acquire the Brushy Mountain property from the state of Tennessee. The state government still owns that land. The Brushy Mountain Groups said it has a meeting planned for Wednesday in Nashville with state officials about the issue.

BMG member Brian May said the state's interested in their proposal.

"The meeting Wednesday will hopefully give us a path with how we go, where we go moving forward," he said.

May said some people in the town have voiced some concern about the project on account of religious beliefs. But, Joyner resident Paula Trail Fugate said she feels the distillery is an opportunity too good to pass up.

"I'll get out and help people drive, I'll pick people up, whatever it takes to get this brought in," she said.

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