July 22, 2009 10:59:00 AM
The latest debate over Sunday alcohol sales heated up Tuesday in Starkville.
Newly elected Alderman Jeremiah Dumas brought the issue to the table when, during a marathon meeting in City Hall, he and his fellow aldermen agreed to hold two public hearings next month to discuss the issue. The board is considering amendments to the city''s code of ordinances which would allow alcohol sales seven days a week.
The city''s existing code of ordinances doesn''t allow Sunday sales, which has led to many Starkville residents and Mississippi State University students traveling to West Point and Columbus on Sundays to buy alcohol, Dumas said. Both West Point and Columbus allow Sunday sales.
Only Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn Sr. voted against the public hearings. Calling the issue "very divisive," Carver said he would like to see the board wait at least six months before addressing the matter.
Perkins feels the city has more pressing matters to worry about, like infrastructure improvements and a new justice complex. He also cited religious and safety concerns.
"If people want to sell whiskey or drink whiskey, they have six long days to do it," Perkins said. "Sunday is the Lord''s day."
Vaughn also felt the city has more important issues to address and said many of his constituents don''t appear ready to support Sunday alcohol sales.
"I think we should just leave this alone," Vaughn said.
But Dumas wasn''t deterred and said the public hearings will allow the board to get a firsthand look at where city residents stand.
"If we really want to understand, wouldn''t it be prudent to have a public hearing to see how the community feels about this issue?" Dumas asked.
The economic impact of Sunday alcohol sales would not only benefit existing businesses in the city, Dumas said, but it might help attract more restaurants and companies. It also would give the city a progressive, pro-business image, he said.
Dumas also was critical of Perkins'' assertion that Sunday alcohol sales would lead to an increase in crime and drunken driving in the city.
"I think it''s unfair to assume some blanketed increase in crime (if Sunday sales are allowed)," Dumas said.
Dumas received support from Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk, Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker and Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey.
Sistrunk said she hopes the Sunday alcohol debate will remain civil and people "don''t make any moral judgments."
The first public hearing is scheduled during the board''s regularly scheduled meeting Aug. 4 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall. The second hearing is set for the board''s following meeting on Aug. 18 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.
Meme commented at 7/23/2009 10:02:00 AM:
There is no reason to not sell on Sunday's because if it's the Lord's day the people who are drinking don't care anyway and they are going to drink regardless. On the other hand you're telling me they can't buy enough beer on Saturday to last until Monday?
Separation commented at 7/23/2009 11:14:00 AM:
In this country, there is a separation of church and state. Our elected officials should not be legislating their religious views. There are many other religions present in the City of Starkville and people with diverse views. I don't want to have to live by someone else's ideas and no one should live by mine. This is a depressing picture of the people of this city if we can't let everyone make their own decisions about their day's activities or if the churches don't trust their own abilities to keep people in church versus other activities. Sundays sales helps Starkville businesses compete and shows that we are an open, diverse community. Are the people in Columbus so lawless and immoral because of Sunday sales? Is crime so rampant there?
unbelievable commented at 7/24/2009 4:00:00 PM:
It saddens me to see that public officials like Roy Perkins would even dare to bring religon into the debate on Sunday Alcohol sales. The comment "Sunday is the Lord's day" in a complete violation of the Seperation of church and state. The public should be allowed to decide if they want to drink on Sunday. Starkville is loosing needed revenu to West Point and Columbus. Plus It makes us look bad when people here on business have to drive to another county to get beer on Sunday.
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