The two-year terms of all six members of Statesboro’s city Alcohol Advisory Board expired at midnight June 30.
City Council members, the mayor and the city attorney discussed this briefly during the council’s June 26 called meeting but informally agreed to let it happen. The council is slated to vote during its 5:30 p.m. Tuesday regular meeting to extend the members’ terms to September, and City Attorney Cain Smith plans to draft a rule change during the extension creating staggered terms for future advisory board members.
Meanwhile, some changes in the membership are coming. Mayor Jonathan McCollar, in office since January, said he plans to appoint a new member, and advisory board Chair Patrice Buckner Jackson, Ed.D., had said she would leave the board.
“These are appointments. So what happens here is that every council member and the mayor gets to appoint a member to the Alcohol Advisory Board – not nominate, actually appoint,” Smith told the mayor and council.
That was one of the unusual things about the board when it was set up in mid-2016 to advise the elected officials on compliance concerns and further adjustments to a then-new Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance. Another unusual thing was, all of the terms ended at the same time, after two years.
During the June 26 meeting, Smith at first asked that McCollar and each council member have their appointee names ready by July 17. But District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum suggested staggering the terms, having some last longer than others to start a rotation.
He said he thought that was the council’s original intent, and that if all the members left at the same time, “everybody’s got to start at ground-zero” with no consistency. So Smith suggested the extension to allow time to work this out. Council members did not object, and McCollar moved on to the next item on the agenda.
During the brief discussion, McCollar said that Jackson, who was not the mayoral appointee, did not wish to return for another term. McCollar also said he wants to appoint a new member.
“We’re going to do staggered terms for that, but I’m going to be replacing my appointment,” he said when phoned Tuesday. “I’ll be appointing someone for the Alcohol Advisory Board.”
The six Alcohol Advisory Board members, in voluntary service since July 2016, are Matt Hube, appointed by former Mayor Jan Moore; Woody Pumphrey, appointed by Boyum; Shubert Lane, appointed by District 2 Councilman Sam Lee Jones; Jackson, appointed by District 3 Councilman Jeff Yawn; Jim Thidodeaux, appointed by District 4 Councilman John Riggs; and Laura Wheaton, appointed by former District 5 Councilman Travis Chance.
Chance resigned from the council in March and has now been replaced by newly elected Councilman Derek Duke, sworn-in June 26. So Duke and McCollar would actually be making first-time appointments to this board, Smith noted.
Chair may change
When named to the city advisory board, Patrice Buckner Jackson was dean of students at Georgia Southern University, based solely in Statesboro. With the consolidation, effective Jan. 1, that made the former Armstrong State University campuses in Savannah and Hinesville part of Georgia Southern, Jackson became GSU’s associate vice president and dean of student services. She has responsibility for all three campuses, although a dean of students for the Armstrong and Liberty campuses reports to Jackson.
So scheduling was the reason she thought the time was right to leave the board when her two-year term ended, Jackson said on the phone Tuesday.
“You know there’s a lot of exciting things going on with Georgia Southern University in our consolidation, and I’m spending time on our Savannah campus and Statesboro and Liberty, and with our added responsibilities and everything that we have going on, it’s just difficult for me to take on other things at this moment,” she said.
“I’ll be willing to do whatever is needed, absolutely,” she said when the reporter asked if she will stay on until September or October if the terms are extended.
The board members elected Jackson as their chairperson at the organizational meeting two years ago.
“It was an honor for me to serve,” Jackson said Tuesday. “I really enjoyed my colleagues and the conversations that we were able to have. I also enjoyed hearing different perspectives from those in our Statesboro community, and I feel pretty proud of the work that we were able to do in assisting City Council in revising the ordinance, so I’ll do whatever is needed to make sure that the work continues.”
Yawn, who appointed Jackson to the board, said Wednesday he had not chosen anyone to replace her and had yet to talk to her about possibly continuing.
“I absolutely want her to continue to represent our city in that capacity if she will do so,” Yawn said.
As the name suggests, the current alcohol board is purely advisory. The council can amend the ordinance and regulations without or even contrary to the board’s recommendations.
However, the advisory board has helped shape some changes to the Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance adopted in March 2016.
The then-new replacement ordinance was developed after the city had to seek Bulloch County Superior Court orders in fall 2013 to close two nightclubs where killings had occurred. Work on the ordinance was still underway when a third bar death, of an 18-year-old Georgia Southern freshman in August 2014, resulted in changes to state law and a still-pending lawsuit against the city.
The four most recent board-recommended amendments to the ordinance received official City Council first readings June 26 and are slated for second readings and possible adoption Tuesday.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.