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Public supports alcohol by the drink
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The public had a chance to comment before the Newton County Board of Commissioners this week on the proposed alcohol by the drink ordinance.

Public hearings were held Monday and Saturday, and the residents that showed up supported the measure, questioning why the ordinance would only apply to portions of the Almon Road corridor and Stanton Springs.

Alcohol sales will not be allowed everywhere in the county because commissioners want to restrict the sale of alcohol. Commissioners have said their goal is to make Newton County an option for national restaurant chains that sell alcohol while preventing the formation of bars.

However, most residents who came to speak out at the commissioners' public hearings wanted the ordinance to be county-wide.

"I just can't understand why [we] can't do like the other counties do around here," said Newton County resident Sammy Griffin. "Why can't the county be put on the map instead of just a few districts?"

Griffin said by not applying the ordinance countywide, people are going to be more inclined to bootleg alcohol, which loses tax money.

"Why not open the door and legalize [it]?" Griffin asked the board.

Griffin also said that local preachers have come out against the ordinance saying, "We don't want it in our neighborhoods." However, Griffin said the stance of the preachers' was hypocritical.

"I have seen many a preacher go to other neighborhoods and drink," Griffin said.

Newton County resident Roger Evan said he was concerned that not allowing alcohol sales in some areas would hinder businesses in other areas. He stated it put some restaurants at an unfair advantage.

"We got to stop driving our county with the mind," Evan said. "We got to start driving the county from the heart."
Newton County resident Harvey Griggs also expressed similar sentiment as Griffin and Evan.

"We need to get on the same page," he said. "We got to move forward and quit stepping back."

Alcohol by the drink refers to the sale of individual drinks in restaurants.

The county is also considering an ordinance that will control where such restaurants could be placed and how close they could be located to places like schools and churches.

Alcohol-selling establishments cannot be closer than 300 feet to schools, churches, libraries, public housing and alcohol treatment centers. Such establishments also cannot be closer than 100 feet from a private residence. The distance is measured from the main entrance of one building to the main entrance of another. The distance requirement will apply to both restaurant sales and package sales.

The ordinance would also restrict an alcohol-selling facility from being next to an adult entertainment facility.
The board is tentatively planning to vote on the ordinances July 3.