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November 11, 2006

ILLEGAL ALCOHOL SALES IN JASPER COUNTY STOPPED

TWG has been provided with information that Lakeview Restaurant has been selling alcohol at their “full bar” all Summer long. An advertisement by Lakeview Restaurant in the Monticello News on 10/19/06 boasted, “We now have a FULL BAR.”

An alert citizen contacted TWG and asked, “Since when does Jasper County allow a full bar? There are no “drinks” allowed to be sold in Jasper County except in private clubs.”

This citizen contacted the Sheriff’s Department with no response; went to the BOC office with no results; and finally contacted the Dep’t of Revenue who oversees all alcohol sales. Meanwhile TWG contacted some patrons of Lakeview Restaurant to confirm alcohol sales “by the drink.”

TWG has found that Lakeview Restaurant has been selling alcohol all Summer long. However, we have also found that Lakeview Restaurant was issued a Beer and Wine Pouring license by our County Manager. A copy of the “license” is required to be displayed in a “conspicuous place”. This license is typed on BOC letterhead and signed by Greg Williams.

How can the County Manager issue a pouring license without any public hearings? How can a pouring license be issued without the approval of the Commissioners? Who is responsible for this act of gross negligence? We say the County Commissioners are responsible. They have continued to shirk their duties by allowing the County Manager to do many things that should be a matter of discussion, voting, and public record at regular BOC meetings. The County has Ordinances that regulate Alcoholic Beverages. The County Manager and our Commissioners need some instruction on how to research and read our County Ordinances.

The owners of “Frank’s Restaurant” came before the BOC and requested a pouring license for Beer and Wine. There were two readings at two separate Commissioners meetings. The public was aware and had an opportunity to agree or disagree with the pouring license requested. The license was granted, but only for Beer and Wine. Jasper County only allows “mixed drinks” in private clubs—not restaurants.

According to the list of licenses TWG obtained through Open Records in April, it has become clear that the BOC no longer holds public hearings on approving Beer and Wine licenses. Whenever anyone applies to sell Beer and Wine, they must submit an application. If the BOC isn’t approving, who is? The public should always have the right to be informed who has applied and where they might be selling alcohol. We also wonder if there are applications being submitted by new owners when stores change hands.

For example: the Jones’s owned The Country Store on Highway 11 North, then it became Patrick’s, owned by Patrick Holden, now it’s called Chloe’s and owned by Eric Wood. Neither Mr. Holden nor Mr. Wood ever came before the BOC to be approved.

The last time TWG remembers a public hearing was during the last term of Commissioners when a store in Farrar wanted to sell Beer and Wine. We question again when was it decided that no public hearings would be held? The public has the right to know. Also, does the BOC even know who is applying?

Jasper County Ordinances “Alcoholic Beverages”
Article IV

Section 6-1—Provisions saved from repeal

3. The ordinance adopted June 4, 1979, authorizing alcoholic beverage sales in private clubs. (This includes “mixed drinks” and establishes the number of members a private club must have.)

Section 6-4—Retail sales of Wine and Malt Beverages for Consumption on the Premises—
Allowed with proper license subject to requirements listed in Article.

Section 6-11—Procedure for Applicants

Section 6-12—Requisites for Issuance
Briefly and concisely the rules are:

1. Establishment must have seating capacity of 75 people or more
2. 60% of the revenue of the establishment must be from food
3. Consumption of beverages must be in dining area on the premises
5. No beverages served without an order for food
6. No beverages shall be sold for consumption on the premises without a license granted by the County.

Section 6-16—Punishment of Violation of Article
“Reserved” (The County has never established the punishment!)

The Lakeview Restaurant “licensee” appears to have expanded his Beer and Wine Pouring license to include mixed drinks. Where has our law enforcement been for the last 6 months? The County Manager has made another gaffe by issuing a pouring license without any public hearings or authorization. The Commissioners are also to blame by not overseeing the County Manager and knowing what is being done. T.W.G. is interested in seeing the original application.

Sources have told TWG that the Dep’t of Revenue and the Sheriff’s Dep’t have now gotten involved and the sales of alcohol will cease at Lakeview Restaurant.

TWG
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