Sunday sales of packaged beer and wine at convenience stores in Carroll County will be on the May 22 ballot. The Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to allow the referendum.
There was standing room only at the meeting as public comments from local pastors, people who lost relatives to drunk drivers, and other residents spoke against allowing the measure on the ballot.
Shouts of “amen” and “that’s the word of God” were heard while Pastor Stephen Peeples of Roopville Road Baptist Church addressed the commissioners. Peeples reminded them of the times he addressed them and shared memories from his childhood of growing up with alcoholics. He said he noted that people were talking about the loss of revenue on Sundays. He said what isn’t being reported is the amount of money that is spent on law enforcement, jail administration, rehabilitation, or damaging costs associated with loss of life.
“As a Carroll County resident I know we all share a desire in our county and desire for it to be a place that is not only a safe haven to live, work and raise families but a place that attracts others to live,” Peeples said. “The bottom line is this: where there is increased availability, there is increased sales, increased sales means increased consumption, and increased consumption certainly means increased problems such as DUIs, traffic incidents, fatalities, family disturbances, law enforcement calls, law enforcement involvement. Alcohol abuse on society is staggering.”
Pastor Tommy Driver of Mars Hill Baptist Church said that during the time they were in the BOC meeting for an hour, two more people in the country would die from an alcohol-related accident.
“I’ve heard many debates and many sides on this and I’ve heard from many that this is something that must go on the ballot,” said Driver. “I urge you (commissioners) to vote no on this. The impact is too great.”
Steve Fuller, who owns a small vineyard in the Clem community, said word about their business has spread throughout the state and Southeast, and other vineyards are now internationally known.
“This brings in tourist dollars and with that comes tax revenue in the county,” he said. “We are losing to our neighbors in Alabama and Georgia counties to the north who are allowed to open their tasting rooms on Sundays.”
Jerry Culver owner of Little Vine Vineyards in Villa Rica who has won national and local wine contests asked the BOC to vote yes.
“This is America and all people have the opportunity to express their opinion,” he said. “Whichever way it goes, I’ll be happy and know that the system works and I’ll be simply happy with that.”
Several people who signed up to speak on other matters rescinded their opportunity to approach the BOC, stating from their seats that they would come back another time and allow those who were there for the alcohol sales to have their opportunity to be heard as it was a more important matter.
Some residents were upset to hear the stance made by Commissioner Lee Powers who voted in favor of Sunday sales, after telling his story of surviving an accident with a drunk driver and being given a 10 percent chance to live. Powers challenged the Christians in the community to make their voices heard.
George Chambers was the only commissioner to vote against allowing the measure on the ballot.