Two Statesboro stores that are part of larger companies, Clyde’s Market No. 48 on U.S. Highway 301 South and the Bi-Lo supermarket at the mall, have their city licenses to sell beer and wine suspended Thursday through Saturday.
Statesboro City Council imposed the three-day suspensions Tuesday for second-time incidents of selling to customers under age 21 at both stores.
Misdemeanor criminal cases against the employees who allegedly made the sales were filed separately by Statesboro police and generally are heard in Municipal Court. But the council holds administrative hearings after serving notice to license holders for each business, usually an owner or manager.
Gregory Jones Woolard, identified in a city notice as owner of Clyde’s Market, signed an agreement that a violation occurred there Dec. 19. He also gave council members a copy of the company’s alcohol sales policy, which he said store employees sign every week. The former employee charged with the sale, a student, had signed the policy two weeks prior to the incident but had missed a Training for Intervention Procedures, or TIPS, course on checking ages and complying with the law.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he did not attend the TIPS program we spoke of last time I was here,” Woolard said. “He had classes and did not attend.”
TIPS courses are provided free by the Bulloch Alcohol and Drug Council for employees of local businesses that sell or serve alcoholic beverages.
Additionally, Clyde’s has installed a driver’s license scanning device at one of its Statesboro stores to test it. But employees always will be able to override the system and could enter incorrect birthdates, Woolard said.
His company fires employees who violate the law, he said, but he suggested that more be done to make them aware of the personal consequences.
Detective Lt. Rob Bryan, who represented the Statesboro Police Department during Tuesday’s hearings, said the court fine is typically about $750 plus probation costs. Mayor Jan Moore suggested that Clyde’s post this on a sign beside its cash registers.
At first, council members asked if the company had any request about the timing of its suspension.
But city officials had heard from the Georgia Department of Revenue about a problem with a previous suspension, Moore said. The department prohibits alcohol deliveries to businesses with suspended licenses.
“Apparently when we suspended an alcohol license last time, the person that was suspended did not bother notifying and duly accepted an alcohol delivery, and so that became problematic for the distributor because we had nothing on the door, nothing that let them know that the alcohol license had been suspended,” Moore said.
So, to give city employees a full day to notify the Department of Revenue and post a notice of the suspension, the council in its penalty motions specified suspensions beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
In effect, this also meant rejecting a request from Bi-Lo District Director Brian Shillinglaw. He suggested that the supermarket’s suspension be delayed until Feb. 17–19 so it could punctuate a fresh round of training for employees.
Bi-Lo Store Manager Debra McKenzie signed the acknowledgement that a violation had occurred, and McKenzie and Shillinglaw both appeared before the council.
“It’s a sad day for us, as a corporation and as a store,” Shillinglaw said. “We did a disservice to the city, and we take full responsibility for that.”
The now-former employee who made the sale had been at the store about two weeks, Shillinglaw said. He talked about Bi-Lo’s compliance measures, which include “alcohol stings” by the company itself.
“This is our second offense. I’ve never had one offense, much less two,” Shillinglaw said.
Also Tuesday, the Wild Wing Café on Aspen Heights Drive was scheduled for a hearing for an alleged first offense of serving alcohol to an underage customer. But attorney Lovett Bennett, representing the license holder and noting he had met with his client only the day before, requested a continuance.
City Council delayed the Wild Wing Café hearing until March 3 to keep the alcohol compliance hearings in the first council session of each month.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.