Liquor by the drink to go on the ballot

Holmes County residents will be able to cast their votes on liquor by the drink in an election slated to happen before the end of the year.

In a recent meeting of the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners, Holmes County Development Commission Executive Director Joe Rone brought the matter before the council. Rone spoke of placing the matter on the ballot due to the 79 Corridor and the need for businesses to have the ability to sell alcohol by the drink.

“We know with the development we are going to have around the interstate, we are going to need a big chain restaurant,” said Rone. “None of them will look here unless we have liquor by the drink. We are looking to put this on the ballot. We know the county is wet but we do not have the ability to sell liquor by the drink so we can have bigger restaurants come here.”

The promotion of growth and progress is the reasoning behind the move to change the current law which allows sales of alcohol over 6.243 percent alcohol by volume by the package only.  Large chain restaurants and other businesses require any county to have a liquor by the drink law before they will even consider bringing a business there. Rone says it is essential for growth. “We need this,” said Rone. “As unpleasant as it may be to some, this is essential for Holmes County to grow and prosper. If we want the Corridor to be successful and for other existing business to expand and grow, we need this.”

The Original Vortex Spring Owner Angela Dockery echoes that sentiment. “I am in favor of anything that brings progress to Holmes County,” said Dockery. “It is about time for growth in every part of the county.”

Commissioners did not vote to place the matter on a ballot but did speak in favor of doing so. They have scheduled a workshop on the matter to discuss how to best move forward with an election. The options for bringing the issue to vote are a special election mail-in vote or by placing it on the ballot during the general election in November. The workshop is set to take place at 5 p.m. on Feb. 15.

Rone was tasked with bringing the matter to both councils of the City of Bonifay and the Town of Ponce de Leon as they are both situated by the interstate, and both have businesses this matter will effect should it be voted in.

Sam’s Place Owner Jerry Phillips says the change is only a positive one. “Allowing this change will be better for restaurants,” said Phillips. “Being able to sell liquor by the drink will increase their revenues, which also increases their taxes. Those taxes will go back to the county which allows for more growth. All of these are positive things.”

A decision on how to move ahead with an election is expected to be made when the county commissioners meet again on Feb. 15.

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