RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. -- A group that planned to open a "moonshine distillery" in Ravenswood will now apparently locate it elsewhere in Jackson County, after some local citizens who oppose drinking fought the business.
Appalachian Mountain Distillery plans to open a moonshine distillery in Jackson County. In addition to creating 15 new jobs, the operators hope it will become a tourist attraction as well.
Ravenswood Mayor Michael Ihle had been a big supporter of the project. Members of the city's Planning and Zoning Board recently voted 4-1 to approve it.
Distillery owners originally targeted the now-vacant Cope's Supermarket on Washington Street, a mile north of Ravenswood's City Hall. The supermarket closed in late 2010 after operating for 57 years.
But a small group of people who oppose drinking began gathering petitions against the distillery.
"A few angry people essentially killed the plans," Ihle said last week. "I am embarrassed, ashamed and disgusted. I have been saying what a good place this is to do business."
Ihle said he does not drink. "But I don't think it is a sin. I just choose not to."
Dwayne Freeman, vice president of Appalachian Mountain Distillery, said his company recently decided not to open the distillery in Ravenswood.
"I love Jackson County," Freeman said. "We had people who were against it. We understand that. We are looking into other options, probably in another part of the county. We definitely want to stay in Jackson County.
"But we don't want local people to be upset," he said. "Most people have been so excited about this."
Ronald E. Hensley Jr., of Ravenswood, opposed the distillery and circulated petitions against it in churches and on door-to-door visits, according to a report in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel last week.
Hensley, who did not return telephone calls from the Gazette-Mail, told the Parkersburg newspaper that he had collected 800 signatures against the distillery, which would have been located near his church, the Independent United Brethren Church.