Changes to the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Ordinance Discussed and Some Emotional Moments During Public Input for County Commission Meeting.

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Commissioner Melissa Bradford and Doug Moore of the ABC Board presented changes to Dade County’s ABC Ordinance. Bradford said the proposed changes would bring the county compliant with state law and help local businesses. The first change would allow the golf course to serve alcoholic beverages in the restaurant and on the course during tournaments and events. The changes, according to Moore and Bradford, would allow the golf course to eliminate brown bagging and have more control over alcohol use on golf course grounds. The changes will also allow people to bring in bottles of wine at restaurants, who are licensed for and allow bringing outside alcohol in, the ability to charge a deportment fee for opening and serving the bottle and for re-sealing the bottle if that is an option.

The second proposed change is the elimination of the guideline requiring restaurants serving alcohol to be within two miles of an exit. The third change is the elimination of the term “brown bagging” in order to bring ordinances in compliance with state law. There will no longer be “brown bagging” allowed in Dade County. Restaurants and businesses will have to be either licensed or serving, Moore said.
This was the first reading of the ordinance changes and commissioners said they will be taking the time to further study the changes.

An emotional public input session began with a speech by county citizen John Huffman. Huffman, who frequently speaks during public input, began with asking commissioners and others not to follow him into the parking lot or arrest him as he was just going to have his say and leave. Huffman askes for the rolling of eyes and laughter when he spoke to stop. Huffman began with his repeated complaint about the 5 minute time limit given citizens during public input. Huffman continued down a list of items he wanted to address with the commission including the extension of hours and stops for public transportation, posting legal notices on internet, not charging for copies of public records, and the handling of the “reservoir” and land purchased for reservoir. Commissioner Lamary Lowery and citizens at the meeting offered up their “5 minutes”, after Huffman went several minutes over his time. When asked by the Commission how many points he had on his list, Huffman replied 17. A little over 17 minutes into his speech, Huffman began point #18 and people in the audience began making comments out loud regarding Huffman, his more than 17 points, and the amount of time he was using. Laughter and snickering could be heard as other comments were made by those in the meeting.

The Commissioners let Huffman continue and when he was done, Lowery tried to get his attention. Huffman made it clear he just wanted to leave and not argue. Huffman agreed to stay and listen to Lowery who stood up and apologized to Huffman stating the Bible says not to meet anger with anger and said that is what he, Lowery, had done in the past. Huffman walked over and shook Lowery’s hand and left. After he was gone, two business owners stood up and spoke about kindness and rebuked those in the audience for the way they had behaved. Diane Rumley stood and spoke about her experience as a family member of a commissioner. She said Huffman does a lot of good things for the community, but also spoke about some of the history with Huffman. Diane spoke about times the commissioners had been out after hours and on weekends. She shared an incident where Huffman got up in her face and laughed as he was leaving the meeting and said that she felt like things were said at this month’s meeting because it was “just that much too much.”

“I’ve never said anything at these meetings, but tonight I had to,” Diane Rumley said.

Other public input included Susie Talbott saying she was having problems finding information on when IDA meetings are held to which County Executive Ted Rumley said he would speak to the IDA about posting meeting times and dates on the IDA’s website.

Patrick Hickey announced a meet and greet for county candidates to be held at New Home Community Center on the evening of Friday, March 15. Another citizen asked about the possibility of putting up a statue or something recognizing music legend and Rising Fawn resident Norman Blake.

The Courthouse Restoration project update was given by Cole Adkins. The project has $90,278 in the contingency fund. First floor sheetrock is complete and the second floor is pending the roof installation. Wood patching on the second floor continues and flooring for the meeting room is being procured. Trim carpentry on the first floor is nearing completion while the metal crown molding for the courtroom is in fabrication. Flooring and acoustical ceiling bids have been opened and the board is suggesting going with Waller Interiors. The roofing contract was awarded to JDH and it was found that there are asphalt shingles under the metal roofing resulting in possible dry rot. The entire roof will be torn off and then new roofing installed.
Rumley said the county had been waiting on a surveyor to come to the new election building site and set the benchmark so it can be leveled. If weather clears then citizens should see work in progress at the site in the next week. Even if the building is done before November elections, there is an approval process with the state the county will have to go through. Rumley does not expect the November elections to be held in the new building.

At the Depot the electrical is almost done, lighting outside is done and framework is almost 90% complete. Rumley reminded everyone that the Depot will house Indigent Defense and the ASC person.

Rumley asked people to continue to be patient with the linemen in the county. Ninety percent of the county’s power poles will have been replaced once they are done. Meetings are ongoing with the railroad regarding blocked crossings and Rumley is working with then to help the railroad understand some crossings can not be blocked for hours because it prevents access not just by the homeowners and businesses, but by emergency services.

Tire Amnesty Day is set for May 11 from 9 am until 2 pm. The grant and recycling company requires that tires be clean. Twenty tires per family is the limit and if weather is really bad, it will be held on May 18 instead.

Phillip Hartline asked people to consider that the Hotel/Motel collections for December through January were up to $67,000. The majority of those funds come from vacation rentals with only one hotel in Trenton. None comes from the state park.
Commissioners approved an amended agenda; the first reading of the changes to the ABC Ordinance; an agreement with IDEMIA for fingerprint services for the Probate Court; the appointment of Pam Wheeler to the Bridge Health Board; Proclamations declaring March as Intellectual Developmental Disabilities Month, Save Your Vision Month with the Lions Club, Social Work Month, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month; the purchase of a mobile radio, portable radios, portable battery charging unit, emergency scene lights, scene lights, and vehicle lights with $15,607 from the 2015 SPLOST and $6,526.75 from the 2021 SPLOST; the disposal of surplus property; and the monthly financial report.

By Summer Kelley

 

Watch the full County Commission Meeting here: