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Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011 8:50 PM
Updated Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 5:24 AM

Grovetown approves Sunday alcohol sales referendum

Columbia County Bureau
Jim Blaylock/Staff
Noah Williams prepares to cast his ballot at Grovetown Middle School. Voters on Tuesday chose Jennifer Jones and Dale Stoddard to fill two City Council seats.
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Grovetown residents voted Tuesday to make the city the only place in Co­lumbia and Richmond counties to buy packaged alcohol on Sundays.

The referendum, which passed with 59.9 percent of the vote, allows package, grocery and convenience stores to sell packaged malted liquor and distilled liquor, including beer and wine, on Sundays.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation in April allowing local governments to allow voters to decide on alcohol sales in stores between 12:30 and 11:30 p.m. on Sundays.

But merchants can’t immediately begin selling alcohol on Sundays.

“It means that we’ll have to now do an ordinance,” said Mayor George James, who ran unopposed on the ballot for his second four-year term.

He expects the ordinance and the required two public readings to be completed by early next year.

James said he doesn’t expect Sunday sales to be a big revenue-maker for the city, but the provision might draw a few extra customers from surrounding areas.

Harlem officials opted not to put the referendum on their municipal ballot. The issue has not been presented to voters in Augusta and Columbia County, as neither held elections Tuesday.

“There’s nowhere else that sells it,” Councilwoman Jennifer Jones, said. “People might come out here on Sunday to buy (alcohol) if they just really want it.”

Jones, who retained her position on the Grovetown City Council with 352 votes, was one of three people vying for the two available seats. She served one year after filling the unexpired term when former city councilmen Barry Davis and Robert Newman resigned in January. Jones will begin her first four-year term in January.

Dale Stoddard, brother of current City Council member Bruce Stoddard, won the second seat with 168 votes.

In Harlem, incumbent City Councilman Tom Bla­lock, who has served nearly eight years on the council, earned another term with 163 votes. Assistant Fire Chief Gregg Stokes was elected to fill the seat being vacated by Robin Root with 186 votes.

Richmond County was relatively quiet, with elections for city seats in Hephzibah and Blythe.

In Hephzibah, Sissi Car­roll Dozier defeated Jeff L. Rowe, 340 votes to 160, for the Hephzibah Commission seat held by Charles Dillard, who did not run. Incumbent Hephzibah Commissioner A. Frank Williams easily beat challenger Jeffrey Malcom by a count of 380 to 128.

In Blythe, incumbent James G. Adkins and newcomer Troy Harwell captured the two available City Council seats, with Adkins picking up 87 votes and Harwell 65. Incumbent Daniel Martin (65 votes) and newcomer Gary D. Thomas (13) lost.

McDuffie County voters approved a five-year extension of the 1-cent sales tax for schools. The estimated $18 million proceeds cannot be spent on personnel costs. In Thomson, voters retained Kenneth Usry as mayor and the Rev. John Smalley as a city councilman.

Garth Snow of Morris News Service contributed to this article.

 

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