MT. VERNON — On an 8-2 vote, the Jefferson County Board approved amending the Class A liquor license to allow for Sunday sales and set the hours of noon to 10 p.m. The board also allowed for food sales at businesses which hold Class A licenses with no restricted hours. That motion passed on an 8-3 vote with James Malone, Watt and Rector voting in opposition and White abstaining.
Voting in opposition to the Class A liquor license amendment were Bob Watt and Don Rector, while Chairman Bob White — citing a conflict of interest — and Jeff Williams abstained. Steve Draege was absent.
The annual fee for a Class A license will remain at $1,500, failing by a 7-3 vote after Wayne Hicks made a motion to raise the fee to $2,000.
The issue came before the board a couple of months ago when Woodlawn Bar owners Doug and Vicki Webb requested the bar be open on Sundays, citing the economic ramifications. Sunday liquor sales are permitted in Mt. Vernon and Ashley.
The issue drew mixed responses from board members, although the majority of board members indicated they had little input from their constituents.
In a letter to other board members, Watt offered, "I am writing to urge you to vote 'No' on the proposal to allow the serving of alcoholic beverages on Sundays. While I agree we cannot legislate morality, I do believe we can and should exercise sound judgment in the actions we take, and it behooves us to do so in any and all matters that come before us. I also believe we should always put public safety ahead of county revenues or personal profits." Watt continued that he sees no good reason to promote the consumption of alcohol, citing statistics that there have been hundreds of traffic fatalities in Illinois the past two decades, and the state averages more than 6,000 DUI arrests per year.