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Commissioners discuss Sunday alcohol sales

McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton was expected to ask commissioners Wednesday to approve a resolution that would allow voters to decide on Sunday sales of beer, wine and liquor.

Depending on the outcome of the Wednesday commission meeting, voters could decide the issue on the ballot during the November general election. It's the same time that voters will be asked to choose a new president.

Sunday alcohol sales was just one of the topics recently discussed at a joint City of Thomson/McDuffie County government retreat recently held at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education in Athens.

Chairman Newton brought up the subject during the retreat and received support of the idea from two city council members, Rev. John Smalley and Jaye Jones, as well as Commissioners Sammie Wilson Sr. and Rev. Fred Favors.

Sunday alcohol sales currently are prohibited in McDuffie County. Fred Guerrant, city/county planning director, believes the lack of Sunday sales may be one of the reasons why major franchised restaurants haven't settled in McDuffie County.

"We don't know that for sure, because we've never heard anyone from one of those restaurants tell us that," Mr. Guerrant said. "We do know that that issue was addressed by at least one restaurant chain that was considering locating here."

He feels that having Sunday alcohol sales "would greatly benefit" McDuffie County from an economic standpoint.

"Everyone that I have talked to about this issue is 100 percent in favor of it," Mr. Guerrant said. "Apparently, they see the economic advantages that it would have in McDuffie County."

Mr. Guerrant said he believes Sunday alcohol sales would bring about other economic opportunities, such as additional motels and hotels and other retail businesses.

When officials look at areas in which they are interested in bringing in franchised restaurants, they look at the population, traffic flow, price of property, etc., Mr. Guerrant explained.

"They look at the overall characteristics of the community," he said. "I'm hoping that the voters get a chance to address this in a referendum. I'm not hearing any opposition to it."

McDuffie County Manager Don Norton said he thinks the idea of Sunday alcohol sales is a good idea, too, to put to the voters of the county.

"It would allow us to compete with everybody else for economic growth in terms of nice new restaurants, etc.," Mr. Norton said.

Web posted on Thursday, March 06, 2008

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