In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the Upson County Board of Commissioners passed a motion to put a “liquor by the drink” referendum on the ballot for November of this year. Commissioner Frank Spraggins and Chairman Rusty Blackston both voted no.
The issue has been a hot topic in town as of late and during a town hall meeting in February, the opinion of the public present was heavily against the possibility of liquor by the drink sales going to a vote by the general public. The City of Thomaston already has an ordinance in place to allow mixed drink sales at restaurants inside the city limits.
During the public comment portion of the meeting Tuesday night, the board heard comments from two citizens on the possibility of a referendum, with the first being Yatesville Mayor Cecil Moncrief.
“I want to remind you of the town hall meeting held a few weeks ago,” said Moncrief. “The Upson Beacon, The Thomaston Times and WTGA all expressed that the overwhelming majority was opposed to it and I would like you to take that into consideration. That was the purpose of the town hall meeting, to feel the pulse of the people that were there and everyone had the opportunity to be there and express their opinion… I don’t want to see any more liquor or anything around; I think we have plenty.”
Moncrief’s sentiments were echoed by Reverend James Wall, who serves as pastor of Faith Baptist Church. Wall asked the board to think about when the law was put in place to not allow alcohol by the drink sales in the county and why does it have to be changed now. He also noted that if this is something that does go to a vote by the citizens, it is something he will do his best to fight.
“You guys were voted and put into position by the people. I know we like to think the sale of alcohol may generate more money; but who brought this to you anyway? One or two people in the community? As it was noted at the town hall meeting, it was definite the people there were against bringing this back to a vote. As a spiritual leader in this community, I will do all I can to sway people to look at who their commissioners are and make them reconsider their votes. I’m not trying to threaten you guys, but I have a concern for our people in this community and I hope you do too.”
Commissioner Steve Hudson has been an advocate of having a vote to determine if the community wants liquor by the drink sales in the county for several years and has stated he believes it is the only fair way to settle the matter. Commissioners Ralph Ellington and Lorenzo Wilder have noted they agree with Hudson and would like to see the matter go to a vote as well. Hudson gave the following statement before making a motion to have a referendum at Tuesday’s meeting.
“In the recent town hall meeting and the numerous comments I have heard show me we have a difference of opinion in this community about alcohol. I, nor anyone on this board, condones drinking. However, for 10 years I have heard from many citizens who question why we do not have liquor sales in Upson County. I represent roughly 4,600 locals. I represent people who want liquor sales as well as people who do not want liquor sales. Therefore in an effort to resolve this question, I’d like to make a motion we call for the voter registrar to hold a referendum for the sale of liquor by the drink in Upson County and let the citizens decide.”