Rhome alcohol sales still on the table

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, March 2, 2019
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Rhome City Council took no action Tuesday on allowing alcohol sales at city events after hearing from a handful of citizens during a public forum.

The council requested more public input on the matter before making a decision. Six residents spoke on the topic Tuesday and one more sent in a letter.

“Seven people don’t make public opinion,” said councilman Kenny Crenshaw. “I’d like to know what the people think.”

Councilman Sam Eason echoed Crenshaw’s sentiments.

“It’s a big issue, and we don’t have a very large representation of our citizens,” Eason said. “I think we need to discuss it again and allow future feedback on how it could be acceptable and how it could be done.”

He even suggested a referendum at the next election.

“There’s no rush to this,” Eason said. “We need to find out what is the right answer if we are going to pursue this and then go to the polls with it.”

Four speakers and one citizen who wrote a letter opposed allowing the sale of alcohol at the city events in the park.

Deborah BeCraft was concerned about alcohol being sold at city events, citing an incident at the Old Settlers Reunion in 2014 where a Rhome man was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon following a squabble over beer.

She also expressed concern about inappropriate behavior.

“You have the issue of younger adults getting drunk and hitting on the teenage girls that are underage because we all know that teenage girls lie and say I’m older because they are wanting an older boyfriend,” BeCraft said. “That’s going to create a problem and make it unsafe. Right now a family can turn their child loose in the park.”

Patricia Mitchell voiced concerns about the city opening itself to a “whole can of worms with liability” with alcohol allowed on city property.

“I’m not a teetotaler by any means, but there’s a time and place for everything, and city property is not the place and not the appropriate time.”

Tommie Eason was one of two people that favored allowing alcohol sales at city events such as chili cookoff and barbecues. She explained that independent vendors would be providing the alcohol and conducting sales and not the city.

“It will be by a vendor, and we are not going to oversell,” Eason said. “It’s going to be in a certain area. I just think that the city events would get a lot more people coming if there was a little bit of alcohol. We are wanting to do a barbecue, and we’ve had a chili cookoff. These things go with beer. Other cities do it. Why not us?”

Cathy Coffee also spoke in favor of alcohol sales, pointing out that parks such as Six Flags and other events around the area allow beer and wine sales.

“I think there’s a little bit of a misconception that you think it’s going to be like a bar in the middle of the park. That’s not what we are talking about at all,” Coffee said.

In discussion on the issue, councilman Josh McCabe favored permits for specific city sponsored events.

“It’s not just anyone can bring alcohol. The people putting on the event would hire an outside vendor,” McCabe said. “When you hire an outside vendor, they are the ones that are TABC licensed, and they are the ones that have the insurance. If we do this, we keep it as a permit for specific city events.”

Mayor Pro Tem Elaine Priest expressed mixed feelings on the issue. She had concerns about the burdens on the administration and police. She also didn’t want it in the park, saying it would have to be in a restricted area.

The city plans to put a notice on the March water bills, requesting comments from residents on the issue.

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