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Letters To Editor – Feb. 28, 2008

Restaurant Owner Makes Plea To Be Allowed To Sell Beer

Dear Editor:

  There has been much talk about my restaurant and the serving of beer. I have been mostly quiet on the subject but now it seems to be time to clear up my position and the direction I want to take for our family restaurant.     Personally, I could care less if there was ever beer sold in the county or anywhere else, but the overwhelming majority of Valley citizens wanted it to be legal and I respect their wishes.

  Most of you know me, for those who don’t here is a little about me. I am from a very large family. My parents, Leon and Margaret Dunn, have 25 siblings. I have four brothers, several nieces and nephews. My wife, Loretta, and I have six children and three grandchildren. I was born and raised in the county—graduated from high school here.     I worked through high school at various businesses. I have banked, owned property, and paid taxes here all my adult life. I traveled to other areas to work and gain the knowledge and ability to run restaurants and other businesses but my heart never left  Water Valley.

    I decided to move back to this area because I wanted to raise my family with the same small town, and family values I was raised with.

  I bought a small country store in Paris and put my family to work in it. I wanted to teach my children, as I was taught, how to work and provide for their family. Then the opportunity I’d always dreamed of came up.

    I bought a local restaurant in Water Valley. We named it Dunn’s Family Steakhouse and set about the business of operating a family restaurant.

    Beer was now legal in town, so I applied for, and received a beer license from the State of Mississippi, with the effective date of 1/1/08, and started selling beer. After this date the City passed its Beer Ordinance. I don’t know if it was an oversight or intentional, but my restaurant was the only one effected negatively.

    I believed, and still do, that we can work it out, so I can offer beer to the families in the area who want it. Since all this came up I have talked to a lot of people, people who drink and those who don’t.

    The overwhelming majority of them want me to be able to serve beer. It allows me to compete and keep that tax money local. They also understand this restaurant is not a juke joint,  or will it ever be a juke joint. The few that oppose beer being served need only to dine with us one time to see what we are all about.

    You walk in the door and you may be greeted by my six-year-old son, Peanut; see my daughters working, find my mother cooking, see Peanut and my oldest grandchild, Tabby, pretending to wait tables or taking orders.     

    The other two younger grandchildren, Austin and Heaven, playing in the party room. We are a family restaurant and there is no way I will allow beer related problems, or any other problems, to destroy this.

  I need to be able to serve beer for two main reasons: I need to be able to compete with local restaurants that are already here and any new restaurants that may come in. Let me say this again, serving beer will not destroy our family atmosphere—it will allow me to compete on an even playing field.

    I will give you some examples and the type of beer-related business I want. During the time I sold beer we had a group of local people eat with us. This group of about 20 was made up of what most people would say was from normal everyday good people to dignitaries of the town. A couple of them had a beer with their meal.

  A lot of families get together in their backyards, grill steaks, and someone may drink a beer.

  This is the segment of business I need to continue to grow. There is no need to send this business and tax money to Oxford, Batesville or Grenada.

  I went to the Aldermen Meeting last month to ask for an exception. They did not want to change the footage, they wanted to protect the churches. I support that, but we also need to protect local business from outside competition. Leave the footage at 250 feet. I am asking for an exception—this is the only business affected and the only church affected. I only ask for the right to make sound business decisions for my restaurant to protect my family’s financial security.

  /s/Gene Dunn
  1119 N. Main Street
  Water Valley, MS

Wicker’s Votes Reflect Lack Of Support For Veterans

Dear Editor,

I read with great interest the letter from Bobby D. Jefcoat in the February 21st issue of The Herald.   I understand Mr. Jefcoat’s point  view very well.   I am surprised to learn that former congressman,  and now interim senator, Roger Wicker would take such a stand on a matter that affects so many veterans in the First Congressional District and the State of Mississippi.       

Especially when Mr. Wicker is a Lt. Colonel in the U. S. Air Force Reserves.   But, on the other hand, I should not be surprised at all.  In the past ten years I have written to Mr. Wicker or contacted his Tupelo, Miss., office at least  six times on matters that affects veterans of this district and state.   On one occasion  I received a reply only after I had telephoned his office again.

On one occasion (September 1, 2006 I think)  I spoke personally to Mr. Wicker when he visited Water Valley and talked a few minutes with the coffee drinkers in a local drug store.  I told him I had written his office about a veteran’s matter; he asked me if I had received a  reply; I told him I had not and he made a rather flippant reply, something similar to “I didn’t think so,”  and stepped away to speak to someone else.    On that occasion I talked at length with one of  his aides with him that day in the drug store explaining a situation I thought Mr. Wicker could help me and other veterans with. I never  received a reply or response of any kind.

There will be an election in November 2008 to elect a full time senator.  I will remember Mr. Wicker’s attitude toward veterans and I hope other veterans will do likewise.   We need a senator and a congressman from the First District who will represent all the citizens regardless of status or position.


James S. Allen
109 Market Street
Water Valley

Readers Impressed With Library, Helping Hand Of Newman


  Many times in the newspaper, we find the words, “I want to help,” said by Joe Newman. If it is something to benefit his beloved Water Valley, Joe is first in line to help, whether it is renovating the pavilion in the park or helping the library—whatever.

  My husband and I moved to Water Valley in the spring of 2006. I was deeply involved in genealogy work for my family and eagerly sought out the library. Once inside Blackmur Memorial Library, I was impressed with the staff, the inviting “feel” of the library, and the genealogy collection of materials. They guided me through finding the resources they have, ordered additional books from other libraries through inter-library loan, and were just generally helpful.

    One of the first things I learned was that the Blackmur family generously donated the building and grounds to the city—the family that had also provided a home for my grandmother’s orphaned first cousin many years ago, Thomas Dudley Kelley.

  It was the first sight of the library grounds as I turned onto Blackmur that froze my heart. A school or a town’s view of their library reveals their philosophy on how important learning is to their school or community. I relayed this to Joe, “Joe, the stark, lonely grounds of the library are not very inviting.” So-o-o last summer Joe set a flagpole in front of the library and there was talk of some landscaping! This week Joe offered to save the city several thousand dollars to let him and some other city employees repair the water-damaged floors at the library, AND the library received a $500 donation from TVA.

  Joe Newman always lends a helping hand! He is a friend of the library and the city of Water Valley. I am proud of Joe. Joe is my son-in-law.

  /s/Sue Rogers
  472 CR 96
  Water Valley, MS

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