First the city, now the county.
Saying they desire a "level playing field", several store owners, licensed to sell packaged beer at their establishments in the county came before the DeKalb County Beer Board Thursday night to find out how they can be afforded the same opportunity as city stores to extend their hours for selling beer.
(PLAY VIDEO BELOW OF THURSDAY NIGHT'S COUNTY BEER BOARD MEETING)
The meeting was called, apparently for the purpose of allowing store owners to speak on this issue. No other business was discussed, other than approval of the minutes from the last meeting.
County Beer Board Chairman Edward Frazier opened the meeting and immediately read a passage from state law which states that the county commission has the sole authority in establishing hours for beer sales of county licensees. "The beer board is not authorized to establish distance, rules, or to extend the hours for the sale of beer. This authority may be exercised only by a resolution of the county legislative body," said Frazier.
"Why are we here?", asked first district beer board member Jim Stagi.
"Because interested people would like to know what they have to do," said Frazier. "They've already got a license and they'd like to get extended (hours for selling beer)"
"That's not our responsibility," said Stagi. "They need to talk to their county commissioners. I got a call at twelve o'clock this afternoon saying I have a meeting. Nobody knows what its about. I come here and find out its about 24-7 (beer sales). None of us knew what it was about," he added.
Frazier took questions and comments from the store owners present at the meeting.
"I would just say we should all be on the same playing field. They (city businesses) are now selling beer on Sundays and after hours," said local businessman Jewel Redman.
"Jewel, I understand your point, but you're talking to the wrong board," said Stagi.
Stagi later pointed out that if the county commission should vote to extend the hours for beer sales, store owners who already have a beer license would not need to come back to the beer board for approval of extended hours. "If the county commission decides to change that to a 24-7 situation, this beer board would not (have to) approve or disapprove of it, because it would automatically be okay for everybody who already has a beer license. It won't even come in front of us," said Stagi.
Beer Board members informed the store owners that they would have to see County Mayor Mike Foster about getting this issue placed on the agenda for the next county commission meeting Monday night, January 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse.
Currently, stores in the county with a beer license are prohibited from making beer sales from midnight to 6:00 a.m. week nights and no beer sales are permitted on Sundays.
The City of Smithville last month changed the city's beer regulations to allow 24-7 beer sales for stores with an off premises permit and on-premises permits are now allowed for eligible restaurants who wish to serve beer with meals.