By David Howell
The aftermath of the Dec. 11, 2007, beer election, continued to make news in 2008 on the Herald’s pages as ordinances took effect and Yalobushians adjusted to the changes.
County supervisors had jumped in late December, 2007 to adopt an ordinance to regulate beer sales, just days after the infamous election and these restrictions were already under review – as the most controversial item on their agenda for the first board meeting in 2008 was a request to modify the new ordinance.
After an emotional plea, both from members of the pro-beer crowd and anti-beer group, supervisors unanimously stuck to the county’s new beer regulations, denying requests from two business owners to allow beer sales less than 300 feet from churches.
Two weeks later, Water Valley’s beer ordinance took effect at midnight on January 19 halting the sale of cold beer within the city. The law also halted Sunday sales.
“Six days, hot, none on Sunday,” Water Valley Bill Norris said, summing up the new beer regulations as they were adopted. This ordinance had been hastily adopted in mid December, 2007, and took effect after 30 days.
City officials in Coffeeville and Oakland also passed restrictions, though milder, and Yalobushians could only buy refrigerated beer for off-premises consumption in the two smaller municipalities.
Also in January, per the county’s new ordinance, supervisors began reviewing applications from businesses located in the county who wished to sell beer, on a case-by-case basis. The first restaurant in the county, Tito’s Tacos, was granted a privilege license to serve beer for on-premises consumption during a recessed supervisors’ meeting Jan. 25 at the Coffeeville Courthouse.
“They are listing themselves as a restaurant,” Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn told supervisors as the application was reviewed. “They have nine tables and 34 chairs,” McMinn continued after reading the application during the meeting. The business operators also listed on their application their food sales as 80 to 90 percent of their income at their business Tito’s Tacos was now able to sell cold beer for their patrons who wished to be served while eating a meal. Other county businesses lined up to sell beer, though most of the permits issued were hot beer sales intended for off-premises consumption.
Although supervisors had held tight with county restrictions, during a March 4 meeting Water Valley aldermen agreed to a modification to the beer ordinance, reducing the distance from churches for on-premises consumption from 250 to 150 feet, allowing the Dunn Family Steakhouse on North Main to serve beer to patrons.
By mid-year, most of the kinks had been resolved and it was business as usual. Two new restaurants had opened in the county and applied for on-premises consumption permits including Pit Row Grill and Double L Depot.
In August, agents with the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) made a weekend sweep through the county, arresting three people for selling alcohol to minors at three different businesses in the county.
Another casualty of the beer election, the county-line beer store located on Hwy. 315, just inside Panola County, closed it doors in November. The longtime landmark, Howard’s Grocery, which tried to redefine its image as the “cold beer store,” seemingly could not compete with hot beer sales now legal in Yalobusha.