County Beer Board Gives Nod To Sunday Beer Sales

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

Depending on the outcome of a vote by the Cannon County Commission when it meets next Saturday (Jan. 15), beer sales on Sunday may soon be lawful in the county.

The county's Beer Board approved a motion Saturday during a meeting at the Cannon County Courthouse to place the question on the agenda of the commission's quarterly meeting next week.

County Commissioner Jim Bush, who was nominated and elected as chairman of the beer board at the start of Saturday's meeting by fellow members Kevin Mooneyham, also a county commissioner, and citizen representative Tommy Malone, said he had received petitions asking that the law be changed to allow merchants who have a county beer permit to sell the beverage on Sunday.

"Beer sales (in the county) have dropped since Woodbury implemented selling it," Bush said. "The county is losing money."

Not only has the county government been losing beer tax money to the Town of Woodbury since it approved beer sales in 2009, merchants in the county have been losing revenue as well to those who operate within the town's limits.

Mike Freeze, of Cannon Market, said his beer sales decreased from 13,000 cases in 2008 to 8,500 in 2010. Freeze added that according to information obtained from a local beer distributor, Budweiser, tax revenue for the county decreased from around $48,000 in 2008 to $23,000 in 2010.

Rob Womack, representing Parsley's Market, said his business has been selling about 1,000 less cases of beer a year since Woodbury approved beer sales. He said allowing beer sales on Sunday in the county will make up that difference.

"It will replace the lost revenue to us and the county, and that doesn't count the additional revenue that will come from people buying other items when they come to buy beer on Sundays," Womack said.

Bush said the current law prohibiting Sunday beer sales does not prevent Cannon Countians from buying beer on that day, it only forces them to go outside the county. When they do, their tax money leaves as well.

"Without Sunday sales our money is going to outside counties," Bush said, "I can not see us continuing giving beer sales to surrounding counties."

Bush also pointed out that people who drive outside the county to purchase beer on Sundays will likely drink some of it on the way back, which increases the potential for public safety problems.

Mooneyham, who is a sergeant with the Woodbury Police Department and also works for the Cannon County Ambulance Service, said in his opinion drugs cause as many impaired driving problems as does alcohol.

"It isn't that we don't have a DUI problem from alcohol, but we have a bigger problem from prescription drugs," Mooneyham said. "We need to be regulating the drugs stores more than we do the beer stores."

Even if the full commission votes against allowing Sunday beer sales when it meets next Saturday, that won't put an end to the matter, Bush said.

"I haven't counted all of the signatures on the petitions, but if it fails the commission it will likely go to a public referendum," he said.