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Jenkins stores could sell alcohol next week

Alcohol sales could start in the City of Jenkins as early as next Wednesday following action this week by the Jenkins City Council.

The council voted unanimously at its February meeting to approve the “second reading” of a new ordinance legalizing the sale of package liquor and beer for the first time since January 1944, when Letcher County voters narrowly approved a countywide prohibition.

The establishment of the new liquor law approved Monday night and officially entitled Ordinance No. 227, was made possible last September when Jenkins residents voted overwhelmingly — 207 for and 71 against — to approve alcohol sales at qualifying retail outlets. Since then, Jenkins officials have been working with the state Alcohol Beverage Control Board officials to compose the new law, an abbreviated version of which took City Attorney Randall Tackett 50 minutes to read aloud.

The ordinance was voted on without discussion after Tackett’s reading. It will become law after it is published in the February 15 edition of The Mountain Eagle. At that time, any establishment that has already received a license would be able to begin sales immediately.

As of Tuesday night, the Jenkins Double Kwik convenience store is the only Jenkins business that has applied for and received a license to sell beer and other malt beverages by the package. While there is no limit to the number of qualifying retail outlets that can sell malt beverages, the size of the city’s population limits it to only two “retail package liquor licenses,” state ABC Commissioner Christine Trout announced January 4.

On January 25, Trout, a Letcher County native, announced that applications for the two package liquor licenses, known as “quota vacancies,” would be accepted for a period of 30 days from that date. The quota set for Jenkins by the ABC is identical to the one in Whitesburg, where one of the two package liquor licenses is held by Rite Aid drug store. Rite Aid also has a store in Jenkins, but so far has not applied for a license there. That may change soon since the new ordinance has been adopted.

The new ordinance covers a variety of licensing fees and regulations. Sales time in package stores will be between 6 a.m. and midnight, and sales at by-the-drink outlets will be available between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. Sunday sales will be permitted under a special license.

The ordinance also states that no police scanners will be permitted in establishments serving liquor or malt beverages, and that it will be unlawful to consume alcohol on the premises of package sales stores. No mud wrestling, nude dancing or “Jell-O wresting” will be permitted in establishments serving alcohol, the ordinance says.

In other business at this week’s council meeting, Police Chief Jim Stephens thanked the council for “having the department’s back” by assisting them whenever possible. He praised Council Member Toni Jenkins for assisting with a school bus accident that occurred last week when a bus driver for Letcher County Schools backed into a woman and her grandson who were waiting for the bus. There were no serious injuries. Stephens said Ms. Jenkins helped by keeping other children calm and remained with them until the area was cleared.

Stephens said city police officers responded to 82 complaints and issued 23 citations in January, along with 26 verbal warnings. They made 11 arrests and served 10 warrants as well. Stephens also reported that a “walk-through” of Jenkins Middle High School by police officers accompanied by the Pike County jailer’s drug dog brought no significant results.

City Attorney Tackett, who is also a board member at the Dave Zegeer Railroad and Coal Mining Museum, gave the museum’s annual report for 2016. Tackett said income was slightly down because of decreases in gift shop sales, while maintenance costs were higher because of several projects, including adding outside lights at Giovanni’s restaurant. The museum started 2016 with $11,451.51 and ended it with $9,309.03. Total expenses for the year were $7,746.64. Income for 2016 was $5,604.16.

Tackett told the council the building will need a new roof and the board asked permission to start getting information to put a bid on a metal roof together. Tackett said a metal roof will hold up better and last longer, and will match the roof of other buildings in the complex. Tackett said the museum can pay part of the cost but can’t pay for the entire project.

Councilman Rick Damron said the museum board should look at a “standing seam roof,” which he said will not leak and will last longer.

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