Cave Spring close on liquor vote

December 15, 2018

A citizens committee circulating a petition for a liquor referendum in Cave Spring is more than halfway to its goal.

Betty Sue Hickman told the city council the group netted 163 signatures in just 10 days of canvassing local voters.

“We need a minimum of 261 signatures, but we want to get to at least 300 … We’re trying to get it all wrapped up by (Monday),” she said.

Several as-yet unnamed investors are working with Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Sandra Lindsey to open a distillery in a vacant building. She said they want to be able to market the operation as a tourist destination and sell the product directly to visitors.

The City Council has agreed to call an election — likely in March — on the sale of liquor by the drink and on Sundays.

However, City Attorney Frank Beacham said state law requires a petition to put package liquor sales on a local ballot. It must be signed by at least 35 percent of the city’s registered voters. The petition can’t be sponsored by the government, so a group of citizens has stepped up.

“Very, very few people have said they’re against it. Less than 10,” Hickman said.

The committee report came during the council’s Tuesday work session, where officials also laid out plans for future activities.

Assistant Fire Chief Donnie McCain got the go-ahead to order 12 replacement sets of turnout gear at a cost of $1,339 each, for a total of $16,068, from Woodstock-based Bennett Fire Products Co.

The city budgeted $8,400 for new gear and has a $3,000 grant from the Georgia Municipal Association. Councilmember Tom Lindsey said the city has about $294,000 in the general fund and the board agreed to transfer another $4,668 to the department.

“All of our turnout gear is falling apart … The last batch lasted about five years but this is much better quality,” McCain said. “We’re hoping this will get us about 10 years.”

Floyd County pays half the fire department’s budget because it answers calls in the unincorporated area around the city. There is some question if the extra funds would be covered under the agreement.

Council members ultimately decided they didn’t want to risk firefighters’ safety by delaying the purchase of four suits to the next year. However, Councilmember Charles Jackson asked McCain to phase in replacements in the future, “so we don’t need to buy them all at one time.”

The board also created two committees to research items for action.

Councilmembers Tom Lindsey and Nancy Fricks will look at dilapidated buildings in the city that should be addressed under the “clean it or lien it” policy.

The city sent out warning letters to some residents earlier this year and City Clerk Judy Dickinson said they all cleaned up their properties without further code enforcement contact. Fricks said there are other buildings with abandoned cars and damaged roofs that need equal treatment.

Councilmembers Nellie McCain and Joyce Mink will be looking at sidewalks in the city to prioritize them for repair and rehabilitation with state grant money.

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