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Council approves alcohol changes

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    A series of minor changes to the city's alcohol ordinance were approved Tuesday at Statesboro's City Council meeting, including giving the fire chief the authority to enforce the maximum occupancy load of restaurants.
    As the ordinance was written, nowhere was it spelled out that the fire chief had such authority as well as the authority to reduce the occupancy load and to shut a facility down if an owner refused to reduce a crowd to the buildings maximum allotted crowd.
    The change to the ordinance also establishes the penalties for failure to comply with the fire chief's request that are the same as other violations of the city's alcohol ordinance.
    Other changes made included providing for a special one-day permit for the complimentary furnishing of alcohol to comply with a state requirement.
    Georgia is now requiring alcohol permits for events such as the Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours and in order to get a state permit, a local permit is also required. City Manager George Wood said he didn't agree with the state's interpretation, but the city needs to have a way to issue a permit so a state permit can be obtained.
    Also changed was the boundary line surrounding Georgia Southern in which stricter limits are imposed for alcohol sales, allowing K-Bob Kelly's to obtain an alcohol license. According to a memo from Wood, K-Bob Kelly's is actually farther from the Georgia Southern campus than some of the other properties affected by the rules and the street, not a single parcel, should be used as the dividing line.
    The final change was more of a bookkeeping change in which the permit fee for wine tastings was taken out of the alcohol ordinance and is now referenced to the fee schedule maintained by the city. The $250 fee was not changed by the new ordinance.
    The second ordinance, which still needs to be approved on a second reading, would exempt licensed movie theaters from rules prohibiting discounted admission based on age. Because Mugs and Movies sells alcohol, the theater isn't allowed to sell discounted tickets to youth or senior citizens without violating the city's alcohol ordinance.
    The ordinance discussed and approved on first reading Tuesday would allow theaters to sell discounted tickets based solely on age. It's expected to be approved again at the council's next meeting in March.
    Also at Tuesday's meeting, the council:
  • approved the schematic design for the interior of the municipal court renovation;
  • authorized the destruction of certain municipal records;
  • awarded a bid in the amount of $1,144,953.74 to Y-Delta, Inc., for the Westside interceptor sewer project;
  • awarded a  bid in the amount of $80,6000 to Corbett Electric for the traffic signal installation at the intersection of Savannah Avenue and Highway 80;
  • approved the expansion of the Public Works Department's fleet management garage.
  • heard from Bulloch County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Pearl Brown regarding various issues affecting African-Americans in Statesboro and Bulloch County.

Alcohol Control Board
    At Tuesday's alcohol control board meeting, two stores were fined $1,000 and charged with a first offense for violating the city's alcohol ordinance.
    Cork & Bottle and Tobacco & More were each cited for selling alcohol to persons under the age of 21 after undercover police footage showed both establishments failing to ask for identification of customers buying alcohol.
    "We don't want any underage sales of alcohol," said board member Joe Brannen. "We appreciate what the police department is doing to see what they can do to get it stopped."
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