By RICK HAYES
---- — 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.
Rector said he circulated a petition containing the signatures of about 50 people in opposition to the amended ordinance.
Tommy Hayes said business owners should not be penalized for selling in the county when others are allowed to do so; and Jim Laird offered, "How can I say 'No' when competitors are doing it?" Randy Edwards said the amendment will allow a "level playing field," and the county should not send people to drink in another county.
IN OTHER BUSINESS:n A certification of appreciation was presented to Jim Hertenstein of the Jefferson County EMA for helping to load and unload bulks of paper for county use.
n Documents related to the county seal were turned over to the Jefferson County Historical Society for safekeeping and documentation.
n Don Davis was appointed to the Jefferson County Board of Review and Timothy Wehrheim was re-appointed to the Woodlawn Fire District; and Joey McDermott and Jeremy Hall were appointed as representatives to a Southern Thirty advisory committee.
n With a coin flip, the board broke a tie on bids submitted for a mower. John McDermott won the coin flip and purchased the mower for $400.