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Water Valley’s Beer Ordinance Takes Effect Saturday at 12:01

By David Howell

    Water Valley Police spent last Friday visiting beer retailers in the city, informing them that cold beer cold no longer could be sold after next Friday, January 18.
    The town’s new ordinance, which was approved by aldermen on December 18, will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on January 19, according to Water Valley Mayor Bill Norris.
    “Six days, hot, none on Sunday,” Norris said, summing up the new beer regulations.
    Beer sales began in Water Valley and across the county on Wednesday, December 19, just over a week after Yalobushians voted overwhelming to legalize beer and light wine on December 11.
    In addition to Water Valley, Coffeeville and Oakland alderman also passed ordinances regulating beer sales, each with variations.
    In in the county’s smallest municipality, Oakland, aldermen voted 4 -0 on January 2 in favor of extremely light restrictions.
    Their ordinance specifically addresses two issues, distance requirements, which is specified as 100 feet from a church, and Sunday sales, which are restricted before 1 p.m. Additionally, the church must meet on a regular basis, at least once monthly. The Oakland ordinance also spells out penalties for violating these provisions. The ordinance does not restrict cold beer sales.
    Beer retailers in Water Valley have operated under state law since sales began on December 19. State law allows cold beer sales seven days a week.
    “We have made contact with them (beer retailers),” Water Valley Police Chief Mike King reported. “We gave them copies of the ordinance,” King continued.
    Water Valley’s new ordinance will also affect at least one restaurant which has been operating under a state license for on-premises consumption.
    Owner/operator of The Dunn Family Steak House, Gene Dunn, was warned by police officers that this business was less than 250 feet from the North Main Street Methodist Church, and could not offer beer to its customers when the ordinance takes effect next week.
    “He has been measured,” King said Friday. The chief reported that the steakhouse is approximately 160 feet from the church.
    Dunn said that he hopes to work with city officials to be able to sell beer at his location.
    The county’s third municipality, Coffeeville, also has a regulatory beer ordinance that will become law on February 5. Like Oakland’s ordinance, Coffeeville will allow cold beer sales. The ordinance also addresses footage issues, requiring 100 feet between a store and church or school for off-premises consumption and 250 feet for on-premises consumption.
    The Coffeeville ordinance spells out that cold beer sales is allowed. The ordinance also prohibits single container sales of less than 24 ounces. Other provisions in the ordinance restrict Sunday sales and provides penalties.
    This ordinance was passed in a December 22 special-called board meeting. Just prior to meeting, Coffeeville Mayor Mack Burns said he personally did not see any advantage in selling the beverage hot.
    “I would be in favor of not selling single cans,” Burns added.
    His board voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance with the exception of alderman Joe Bourn, who was absent.

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