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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Starkville becomes ‘alive after 5’; BOA approve alcohol amendment

Katie Poe | The Reflector
Starkville becomes ‘alive after 5’; BOA approve alcohol amendment

The meeting room at Starkville City Hall hit full capacity before the Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night, where citizens were eager to hear the vote on the amendment to the alcohol ordinance. 

After a second public hearing and with a close 4-3 vote, the amendment passed.

The Aldermen who voted in favor were Sandra Sistrunk (Ward 2), David Little (Ward 3), Jason Walker (Ward 4) and Patrick Miller (Ward 5). Those who opposed were Ben Carver (Ward 1), Vice Mayor Roy Perkins (Ward 6) and Henry Vaughn Sr. (Ward 7).

Previously, the ordinance stated alcohol could not be sold within a 250-foot radius of a school, church or funeral home.

The amendment passed Tuesday adapts the minimum Mississippi statutes, which allows alcohol to be sold within 100 feet of those establishments. In addition, the maximum legal alcohol content in beer was raised from 5 to 8 percent.

The original amendment proposed the latest hour of sale for alcohol be extended from 12 to 1 a.m., but Walker suggested different hours. He said the latest time for the sale of alcohol should stay the same Monday through Wednesday, but be extended Thursday through Saturday to 1 a.m.

On Sunday after midnight, no beer or light wine can be sold from 1 a.m. to 11 a.m. The previous rule had 10 p.m. as the deadline on Sundays, so Walker suggested an extension of two hours.

“In my mind, this gives Starkville the most flexibility it can for the downtown to develop,” Walker said. “I think where people have disagreements is the hours of the sale. I do believe that we need to change that.”

Walker made the motion to approve the ordinance with the exception of changing the hours. Then, the motion was seconded and was open for discussion.

Vice Mayor Roy Perkins said at previous meetings he would not speak regarding the alcohol ordinance until Tuesday. Perkins spoke for about 30 minutes on his religious beliefs in an attempt to “kill the whiskey bill.”

Perkins said his feelings on the ordinance were the strongest opinions he would express during this term. He said his issues were with lowering the distance from churches, child care facilities and funeral homes and extending the time in which alcohol can be sold on Sundays.

“The church is a religious place,” Perkins said. “The church needs to be separated from the world. When the worshipers go to church, the worshipers do not need to see all of the atmosphere and the environment that goes along with these drinking establishments.”

Perkins said churchgoers do not want to hear the “feel good music” associated with bars and restaurants on Sundays. He used Johnny Cash and Luther Vandross as examples of this type of music and then urged people to listen to their hearts in this matter.

Mayor Lynn Spruill, who coined the phrase “alive after five,” disagreed.

“I’m going to talk not only from my heart, but from my head,” she said. “One of the things I think needs to be understood is that this is not about alcohol. It’s not about beer, it’s not about wine, it’s not about whiskey; this is about our ability to be a community that offers opportunities and options for others who are not necessarily of the same persuasion.”

Spruill said the amendment is about diversity, inclusiveness and opportunity for social interaction, which will benefit the city and its downtown area.

“Downtown is our heartbeat,” Spruill said. “If our heart does not beat and does not have opportunity for places and things for people to do in the evenings past the time of 5 o’clock, then we are not going to have a heartbeat.”

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Starkville becomes ‘alive after 5’; BOA approve alcohol amendment