Archive for Thursday, December 29, 2005

Baldwin approves Sunday alcohol sales

December 29, 2005

It's official now. Sunday sales of alcohol in package form are legal in Baldwin City. The no votes won by a margin of 19 in last Thursday's election.

Douglas County Commissioners canvassed the vote Tuesday morning. There were four provisional ballots and three were allowed. Those three votes were two no and one yes, which brought the final numbers to 200 no and 181 yes.

"It didn't take a long amount of time," said Jamie Shew, county clerk, on Tuesday's canvass.

The total of 381 votes from 2,404 registered voters put turnout at 15.85 percent, Shew said. He thought that was good, especially in light of the December timing.

"I think that's a pretty strong turnout, given the timing and everything involved," he said.

The ballot wording was written in a way to reflect that it was a protest of a vote by the Baldwin City Council in September. A protest petition forced the vote. Because of that, a yes vote was against Sunday sales, while a no vote was for the sales. Shew thought there was plenty of information out to make that clear.

"I think there was a lot of press coverage to be aware of what was on the ballot," he said. "Poll workers said they had some questions, but not as many as expected. The wording was set by state law."

The validated outcome now means that sale of alcohol and cereal malt beverages in package form is legal Sunday, which is New Year's Day. Steve Larrick, owner of CoolCat Liquor and one of the proponents of the sales said his store will be open Sunday. Joyce Callahan, co-owner of Callahan Liquor and an opponent of Sunday sales, said their store will not be open Sunday.

"Yes, we will be open Sunday," said Larrick. "Yes, I was open last year on New Year's Day. It was a Saturday."

"I will not be open on Sundays," Callahan said at first before adding that it could change. "I might be open for a couple of hours if people ask me. I don't want to be here all day Sunday."

But, that would be in the future if enough customers ask. Until then, she doesn't plan on being open on Sundays.

"That's correct," Callahan said.

Both liquor store owners were glad the people got to voice their opinion on the issue.

"It was a close vote," said Larrick. "It was very close, but I'm glad the people of

Baldwin voted against prohibition of Sunday sales. As a businessman, it gives me another day to be open, so I'm pleased. I'm just glad for the opportunity to be open for the people in Baldwin."

"That's great they voted," said Callahan. "I'm not for it. I guess I just wanted the people of Baldwin to get the chance to vote. Am I happy about it? I guess I get to do what I want to do."

Both convenience stores will also be allowed to sell CMB on Sunday. Frank Foye, owner of Santa Fe Market, was the first to approach the city council wanting Sunday sales. At the next meeting, Larrick also asked the council for Sunday sales. Both indicated customers had asked for the sales.

"I had been asked by customers 'when are you going to get Sunday sales?'" Larrick said. "I had customers tell me they drove to Lawrence on Sundays. You hate to hear that as a business person. You hate to see your customers go elsewhere because they can't buy it here."

By law, liquor stores can be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays, except on Easter and on occasions when Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it did this year. Liquor stores also can't be open on Thanksgiving.

"Those three you have to be closed on," said Larrick. "Legally, you can be open noon to 8 p.m., but my plan is noon to 6 p.m. during the winter. That may change in the summer."

He's also not sure what the new day to be open will mean.

"It's hard to say," he said. "I don't know what the business is going to be on Sundays. I'll just see what walks in the door on Sundays."

Although the council's vote was upheld, Council Member Tony Brown didn't think the vote was about that.

"I don't think it was being backed up," said Brown. "I'm glad it went to a vote. I hope that's it. I hope this is closure on this."

Brown, fellow Council Member Ted Brecheisen Jr. and Council President Amy Cleavinger voted for Sunday sales. Council Members Nancy Brown and Doyle Jardon voted against. Cleavinger found the whole process interesting.

"My only hope for this election was that there would be a fair representation of what this community really wanted," said Cleavinger. "The timing and the wording of the ballot certainly did not help in that regard, but I feel that a 15 percent turnout is very respectable in this case and I hope now that we can all move on.

"While I understand and respect the feelings of those opposed to Sunday sales, I think it would be wise for everyone to understand that it is not the city council's place to determine what Sundays should or shouldn't be about for every member of this community," she said. "Fortunately, we all get to make our own decisions on those matters. And if you are fortunate enough to get to choose whether or not to work or open your business on Sundays, that is great. Many people don't get to make that choice."

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