The Whitesburg City Council this week approved a change in the city’s alcohol ordinance that will make it easier for businesses to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays during special events such as the recent Super Bowl.
The move comes after the city’s one-time-only approval for restaurants and bars to sell alcohol for this past Sunday’s game proved to be too burdensome and expensive for the owners of those establishments who tried to obtain the proper one-day Sunday license.
This week’s vote to change the requirements of the liquor law came after Colin Fultz, owner of Kentucky Mist Distillery, addressed the council on behalf of the city’s restaurant owners and asked the council to extend alcohol sales hours on Friday and Saturday evenings and to also extend sales hours for Sunday special events until midnight rather than 9 p.m. He said that extending hours on special event Sundays would help to make the cost of a license fee more reasonable for special Sunday sales.
Fultz told the council that extending Friday and Saturday sales hours to 1 a.m. would allow restaurant owners to extend the time bands could play while better helping those businesses to cover their costs. Fultz said the Friday and Saturday extended hours would probably not create a problem for downtown residents and would be advantageous for business.
Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft told Fultz that the requests would require two separate modifi- cations to the city’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) ordinance and asked for discussion on separate motions.
Council Member Sheila Shortt opposed the 1 a.m. extension for Friday and Saturday alcohol sales, saying she thought it was too late to remain open. Council Member Robin Bowen Watco agreed and said that it is already difficult to clear the city streets after closing time. Watco also pointed to a then-controversial curfew that was adopted by the city council in the mid-1970s, which she says is still in effect.
Council Member Earlene Williams asked if the extension of selling alcohol through 1 a.m. on Saturday would not create a violation of the restriction against Sunday sales, since Sunday actually begins after midnight on Saturday. Mayor Craft said he believes that hours beginning on Saturday are considered Saturday hours even if they extend into Sunday.
Councilman James Bates, who said he no longer drinks alcohol, introduced a motion to allow for the extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays. However, the motion died for lack of a second.
Fultz’s second request, to extend sales hours on special event Sundays through midnight, was more successful. He explained that the special sales license from the state ABC Board was expensive and that being able to sell alcohol until midnight would help to defray the cost.
After an extended discussion over the limits of special Sunday sales, Mayor Craft said that as the ordinance stands now the city can authorize selling beer on Sunday, but cannot authorize the sale of spirits or wine. Craft told council members that if they presented a motion to change the ordinance, he would modify it to allow all alcoholic beverages to be sold on special occasions until midnight on Sunday, with prior approval required by the council for each event. Craft added that while the city’s approval of alcohol for Super Bowl Sunday had not worked out for restaurants because of state-mandated waiting periods for special event licenses, Food City had been able to sell beer on Super Bowl Sunday.
Councilman Derek Barto made a motion to modify Section 2.1.43 of the City of Whitesburg’s ABC ordinance to allow for the sale of alcoholic beverages from 1 p.m. through midnight on Sundays, but only when a special event dispensation has been approved by a vote of the city council. Each event will require a separate vote. The vote to approve was unanimous. Fultz said that with the passage of the motion, future requests can be made in time to allow compliance with state requirements for waiting periods for special alcohol sales licenses.
In other business, Mayor Craft discussed a request by Whitco resident Mike Shepherd to extend city sewer lines to the neighborhood where he lives. City Water
Maintenance Manager Chris Caudill told Shepherd that it would cost around $25,000 to extend the lines and Craft asked how many households could be served. Caudill replied that there are 14 houses near Shepherd, but another 11 could be added by going in another direction. Craft told Shepherd it would be up to him to get enough of his neighbors to sign up for city sewer service in order to make it economically feasible for the city to extend lines.
Caudill also reported leaks in several of the city’s water lines and said city workers had located and repaired them, including two in six-inch lines. He said a number of the lines need to be replaced. Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering told the council his company is working with Caudill to locate funding sources to replace city water lines and to address service needs for city water tanks as well. Nesbitt Engineering is currently working with the city to increase production capacity for treated water at the city water plant, as well as other water and sewer issues.
Craft asked Caudill to report on the progress with the recycling plant and to clarify which materials will be accepted for recycling. Caudill said that as of this week, the plant has taken in 13 tons of recyclables and that one trailer carrying cardboard needs about six more bales to be filled and taken for sale. He also said the truck for regular paper products is almost half full.
Caudill told the council that the center will accept cardboard, drink boxes, business paper and newspapers, and other paper products as well as plastic bottles and cans. The center will take most other metal, but no glass will be accepted. He added that every ton of material that is recycled is a ton that won’t add to the city’s landfill tipping fees.
Mayor Craft said that not only does recycling help to keep landfill costs down, it is the right thing to do in terms of creating a better environment. Craft urged everyone in the city and the county to do all they can to recycle for the environmental benefits and said that everyone who receives a water bill from the city will soon see printed material accompanying the water bills spelling out the benefits of recycling. He added that the plant is up and running the way it should be run. Caudill said the center is open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Craft also told the council that the city is receiving good publicity for its efforts in recycling. He said that WYMT-TV in Hazard recently featured the city’s efforts on its evening newscast and added that The Mountain Eagle has also carried several reports as well. He said the council wants to use every opportunity to make the recycling program successful.