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The ongoing battle about Sunday alcohol sales in the county finally has come to an end.
With a full house in attendance, the Shelby County Fiscal Court voted Tuesday night in favor of an ordinance allowing liquor to be sold in county restaurants on Sunday.
The ordinance passed its second reading by a vote of 5-2.
With the exception of Magistrate Betty Curtsinger, the magistrates voted as they have traditionally done on the matter, with Michael Riggs, Hubert Pollett and Mike Whitehouse voting in favor of the ordinance and Tony Carriss and Cordy Armstrong against.
Allen Ruble abstained from the vote, as he had done one time previously on the matter. Shelby County Judge Rob Rothenburger also voted, in favor of Sunday sales.
Although they chose not to comment on their decision Tuesday night, those magistrates who opposed Sunday alcohol sales had said previously that they had voted as they did for both personal reasons and because their constituents were opposed.
The ordinance will allow establishments that derive most of their sales from food to sell liquor by the glass on Sunday from 1 to 9 p.m. This action affects nine businesses and golf clubs outside Shelbyville.
Curtsinger has always voted against the matter, but her change of heart was what turned the vote around. She had this to say about her decision:
“As everyone knows, I have always been opposed to Sunday alcohol sales by the drink,” she said. “But at this time, I'm changing my way of thinking.
“I have decided it is not my place to make this type of personal decisions as to whether one should take an alcoholic drink on Sunday or not. That should be up to the individual.
“Another factor is, the economy has instigated an a cause and effect with the closing of some of our industrial and commercial businesses, thus creating layoffs, cutbacks and hardships in the job market. In this period of reduced economic activity, the property and sales tax activities are dwindling, which in turn, will affect the employment and county services to the citizens of Shelby County.
“My hopes are this ordinance will bring new restaurants to our county and create new jobs for the unemployed. We also need to keep in mind the retention of our current restaurants; they not only have to muster through a sluggish economy, but they have to compete against others across the street or the next county.”
In that last sentence, Curtsinger alluded to the complaint that county restaurants and other establishments had been making in favor of Sunday sales—that it is unfair to allow businesses in Shelbyville to sell alcohol on Sunday while denying that same right to county businesses.
Lawren Just, president of Persimmon Ridge Golf Club, who was present in the audience, thanked Curtsinger for her vote.
“I certainly appreciate Ms. Curtsinger's comments and the court's decision from a fairness standpoint,” she said. “These tough economic times have hit our business hard, too, and this will put us on a more equal playing field.”
Others in the audience, such as Rev. Dave Hamlin, senior pastor at Shelby Christian Church, were not happy with the vote.
“My concern is that now we have opened Pandora's Box,” he said. “I don't know what's next. Is the next thing to legalize marijuana, so we can get the tax revenue from it?
“Also, we already have a major alcohol problem in this county. If you have a fire burning out of control, you don't throw gasoline on it to put it out.”