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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Battle over beer continues

    The Board of Aldermen can agree to disagree when it comes to beer. Wednesday night’s special recess meeting of the board to discuss the budget and make-up the beer work session drew a small crowd and small amount of agreement on the issue of hours that beer can be sold in Starkville.
    The issue of extending the beer hours from midnight to a later time was first introduced in an August budget meeting by former student and Ward 4 Alderman Lee Beck. Beck originally proposed the extension from midnight to 2 a.m., which was changed and passed to an extension on weekend nights of major Mississippi State University sporting events to 1 a.m. That measure was vetoed on Mayor Mack Rutledge’s last day to veto it, 10 days later.
    Since then, the issue has been reintroduced by Beck and met by much opposition. City attorney Bill Stark reviewed the current ordinance, upon the board’s request and presented an ordinance that did not violate or duplicate state law. Stark also informed the board that the city government only has authority to limit the hours and distance of the sale of beer–a statement that Rutledge firmly denied during Wednesday’s meeting.
    “I have given the board several opinions, and I’ve recommended that we repeal the ordinance that we have,” Stark said.
    Rutledge gave the board information he collected on various cities like West Point, Columbus and Oxford and compared their ordinances to Starkville’s. He noted their similarities on the sale of cold beer only in restaurants and not having sales on Sundays.
    Beck said extending the hours would give patrons an hour to finish their alcoholic beverage since the current law only allows 15 minutes for drinkers to purchase their last drink at 11:45 p.m. and be out of the restaurant by midnight.
    Alderman At Large Vic Zitta said he was not opposed to allowing restaurants to stay open until 1 a.m., allowing drinkers to have a full hour to finish their beverage rather than the current rule of 15 minutes.
    Ward 6 Alderman Roy Perkins said the issue should not be discussed.
    “We need to funeralize this issue,” Perkins said. “We don’t need to see DUI’s and crime on the rise.”
    Beck said his reason for proposing the issue was safety.
    “My reasoning behind this is there are trained personnel who can handle situations,” Beck said. “When I have kids, I want them to be able to stay in a well-established place that can handle this. People do not leave these restaurants and go home and go to bed. They go to apartments and drink more.”
    Ward 2 Alderman Frank Davis said recent news and surveys about the negative affects of college drinking make it hard for him to support extending the hours of beer sales.
    Beck responded saying that Starkville and MSU are very different from the average schools that survey’s represent.
    “Our restaurants have transportation to take people home–most cities do not have that,” Beck said. “There is a different level of student than your average at MSU. I think you need to look at the universities they look at for surveys. MSU recruits high quality students.”
    The issue did not come to an agreement or a close at Wednesday night’s session. The board will meet again for its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 16. That meeting is open to the public.

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    Battle over beer continues