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Tempers flare over Priceville alcohol vote

Councilman Tommy Perry and local preacher James Henderson got into heated debate after the Henderson accused the council of making an under-the-table deal with a large retail store if Priceville decides to go wet Nov. 6.

Tempers flared between the two to the point that Police Chief Billy Peebles had to ask Henderson back away from the bench where the council was sitting.

“Already, we’re hearing rumors that a large business is planning to locate on Bethel Road if Priceville goes wet,” Henderson said, inferring that a secret deal had been made to lure the business

Perry responded that he has seen no such deal.

“You are wrong. No one of us has made any deal,” Perry said. “I don’t think it’s right for you to accuse us of that.”

Mayor Melvin Duran, who signed the petition to have a wet-dry vote and admitted that he voted yes in the 2010 referendum that failed by four votes, said he’s not necessarily supporting Priceville going wet.

“I think the people should vote on this issue,” Duran said. “I haven’t made up my mind how I’m going to vote this time.

“I made my decision (to vote wet) last time on the day of the election,” Duran said. “What made me vote wet was looking at the signs along the road and what was said about me during the campaign. That’s what made up my mind.”

However, Henderson wanted the council to adopt new laws against drunken driving.

“We need to have a zero tolerance on alcohol,” Henderson said. “I would also like to see the council members not use their position to campaign for the sale of alcohol.”

However, town attorney William W. Sanderson said he believes the Priceville Police Department is already doing all it can to prevent drunken driving.

“I don’t know what you mean by zero tolerance,” Sanderson said. “You can only enforce the regulations that you have and from what I have seen, the Priceville Police Department has been doing that.”

Peebles said the city already enforces the legal limit of a .08 alcohol level for adults and .02 for minors.

“Even if they aren’t .08 and we suspect that they are drunk, we will take them back to the station and let them wait for someone to pick them up,” Peebles said.

Another local minister, Mike Rhodes from Priceville Church of Christ, offered a different approach the alcohol issue. He wanted the Town Council to present an alcohol ordinance that would go in place if the town’s voters approved the issue.

“I think the people of Priceville should know what they’re voting for when they go to the polls,” Rhodes said. “I think we need to have a strict ordinance that would limit the sale of alcohol.”

Rhodes offered suggestions including not allowing alcohol advertisements along roadways or allowing package stores and convenience stores from selling single cans or bottles of alcoholic beverages. He also suggested that the town not allow bars in the town.

“Priceville doesn’t need night clubs, bars or places where you might have mud wrestling, Jell-O pools and nude bars,” Rhodes said. “It needs to be a very tight ordinance.”

Duran said the town already restricts alcohol from being sold in certain zonings, but he would like to see the town work on an ordinance prior to the referendum on Nov. 6.

In other business, the council:

• approved $5,000 in earnest money for purchasing property on Bethel Road.

• released $54,409 to Adam Davidson, Developer of Olde River Crossing, for Phase I Performance Bond.

• approved $600 for a sponsorship for the Alabama Jubilee Charity Horse Show benefitting Camp Smile-A-Mile Oct. 19-20.

• approved lodging expenses for librarian Paula Hensley to attend the APLS meeting in Montgomery Oct. 24-25.

• approved up to $600 to purchase a new printer for the court.

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