published Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Sunday alcohol sales votes a mixed bag in North Georgia

by Andy Johns
A sign reads "Vote Yes" across the street from a sign reading "Vote No for Alcohol."
A sign reads "Vote Yes" across the street from a sign reading "Vote No for Alcohol."
Photo by Jenna Walker.
Should stores be permitted to sell alcohol on Sundays?
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* Dalton

* Cohutta

* Lookout Mountain


* Tunnel Hill

* Varnell

* Fort Oglethorpe

* Whitfield County

Dalton, Lookout Mountain and Cohutta, Ga., voters approved a measure to sell beer and wine on Sunday, but other cities decided it's not OK to mix suds and the Sabbath.

Voters in Fort Oglethorpe, Tunnel Hill, Varnell and Whitfield County voted down a referendum that would have allowed merchants to sell beer and wine on Sundays.

"We've got good moral people in Fort Oglethorpe," Councilman Johnny "Red" Smith said. "We live in a good part of the country. That tickles me to death."

Statewide in Georgia, dozens of the 120 cities to put alcohol on the ballot passed the referendum.

At least 20 Atlanta-area cities approved Sunday sales including Sandy Springs, Roswell and Atlanta itself. Elsewhere around the state, Macon appeared likely to pass it, but "No" votes were outnumbering the "Yes" votes in Albany.

Before this year, Georgia was one of three states prohibiting Sunday sales. But legislators this spring passed a bill allowing municipalities to vote on whether retailers could sell beer and wine on the Christian Sabbath.

The topic has been hotly debated for years in the Legislature, with religious groups such as the Georgia Christian Coalition and the Georgia Baptist Convention blocking a Sunday sales law.

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue also threatened to veto any bill that passed during his eight-year tenure. Gov. Nathan Deal, who was sworn in January, said that, while he doesn't drink, he thinks cities should be able to decide on the regulations for themselves.

In Fort Oglethorpe, several churches and political leaders came out strongly against the measure. "Vote No" and "Vote Yes" signs dotted rights-of-way through the city.

Smith, one of the more vocal anti-alcohol leaders in Fort Oglethorpe, said the social costs of drinking outweigh any additional revenue for the city.

"This wouldn't have brought in enough taxes to amount to anything," he said.

But Northwest Georgia merchants, especially in communities bordering Tennessee and Alabama, complained they were losing sales because they couldn't sell beer but competitors a few miles away could.

Lookout Mountain Mayor Bill Glasscock said he was "delighted" that the measure passed.

Walker County resident Joseph Stevens was eager to vote on Sunday sales Tuesday evening, but was disappointed when he got to the Rossville city hall and learned it wasn't on the ballot.

"I just saw on the news nobody was voting, so I wanted to come down," said Stevens, who also learned he wasn't registered. "I'm going back home. That's sad."

The effective dates will vary by municipality -- meaning that voters would not necessarily be able to buy alcohol at a grocery or liquor store on the first Sunday after the measure passes in their community.

Staff writer Joy Lukachick and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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riverman said...

Hey Johnny "Red" Smith, you arrogant, pompous, sanctimonious jerk, if people like you are going to be in Heaven I would just as soon go the other way.

November 9, 2011 at 7:31 a.m.
jway said...

And there are good moral people in the cities that voted FOR Sunday sales Councilman Smith. They just don't see any point in having a law that doesn't achieve anything. You're going to see the exact same thing happen when we finally get to vote on allowing stores to sell legally-grown marijuana to adults. We have a right to expect that our laws are based on logic, and we have a right to expect that our laws create more good than harm. The federal marijuana prohibition fails on both these counts!

November 9, 2011 at 9:24 a.m.
crtsports said...

If you don't want to drink alcohol on Sunday don't. But don't restrict others in the process. Alcohol should be sold everywhere on Sunday. Its only the backwards people that still believe it shouldn't.

November 9, 2011 at 9:41 a.m.
levelheaded said...

Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages is not a moral issue. Is "Red" implying that people who choose to drink alcohol are immoral? Is that up there on the same scale as things such as perversion, sexual or physical abuse, political corruption of so many people in elected positions or positions of authority? I think not!!! Ft O, enjoy keeping the same old narrow minded people in charge. Evidently status quo is good enough for you!

November 9, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.
hambone said...

The end is coming soon for that great Georgia tradition of going to the bootlegger on sunday after church!!

November 9, 2011 at 11:32 a.m.
jodiechris67 said...

And, they wonder why they are running good Christian people away from Church and away from Fort Oglethorpe. It's just a matter of time before Fort Oglethorpe becomes the next Rossville Grave Yard. Then, it will take several years along with several funerals before they too begin to recover.

November 9, 2011 at 2:15 p.m.
mtngrl said...

The only thing banning alcohol sales on Sunday does is boost alcohol sales on Saturday...

November 9, 2011 at 2:24 p.m.
chet123 said...


I like the way you say good Christian people...ha ha ha...the so-called...and i say so-called good Christain people is the reason the rise in income among the top 1% have grown at a rate of 10times of middle class and working class.....the 1% donate to the church(bank roll the large church)and the Peacher will tap dance and see no evil say no evil....hear no evil...ha ha ha ...much like the early roman church did...for the kings and monarch ha ha ha they have sold out....ha ha ha.....JODIEECHRIS...dont strain on a nat and swallow a camel......Christ turned water into wine ha ha ha......also...we are not live in the old testement....

November 9, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.
chet123 said...

CHRIST said the sabbath was made for man....not man made for the got to be republican to talk the way you do.....

November 9, 2011 at 4:46 p.m.
ceeweed said...

Saturday is the seventh day of the week or sabbath, if you will. So drink up!

November 9, 2011 at 6:14 p.m.
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