Fiscal court finalizes alcohol ordinance

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    Alcohol sales throughout the county are within days of being legal as the Pendleton County Fiscal Court wrote the last part of the ordinance at their Tuesday, December 15 caucus before the first reading at a special called meeting on Thursday, December 17.
    The ordinance must now be advertised in Falmouth Outlook for two weeks before it can receive a second reading and a vote of approval. That vote could be held in the first few days of 2021.
    The one point to be settled was the distance a packaged liquor store must be from a school, day care center or church. Grant County’s ordinance, which the court has been using as a template, called for 500 feet. The court was concerned about it causing issues for Butler Shell Station with their close proximity to Flour Creek Church.
    County Attorney Stacey Sanning advised the court that “A prohibition on advertising is state law but the distance is a county decision.”
        Darrin Gregg posed the question, “What if a business has a license and a church chooses to build right next to them?”
    Sanning answered, “You cannot revoke someone’s license because of who moved in next to them.”
    After much discussion that had different distances from closest wall to closest wall, Judge Executive David Fields asked if 200 feet was good. None of the magistrates objected and Fields said, “We are changing it to 200 feet.”
    Sanning made the point to the court, “State law is a floor not a ceiling. Just because state law allows it does not mean you have to allow it in the county.”
   While the court was discussing the future possibilities of brewery, Fields made the point that they needed to make sure Rose Hill Winery is protected.
    The court did discuss the purchasing of kegs of beer as District 1 Magistrate Alan Whaley pointed out, “We need to prevent someone of buying a keg and putting in the back of their truck” and selling out from it.
    Lastly, there was discussion of an open patio portion in the Grant County ordinance and how it would relate to The Smoking Pig in Butler. Fields asked, “Why do we need it?”
    When no one answered with a reason, he advised, “Let’s get rid of it.” The court removed it from the ordinance they are authoring.
    The court also discussed the status of Milford Road bridge. Fields informed the court that the beams under the bridge were in good shape but the concrete was breaking apart. The bridge is in District 4 and magistrate of that district, Rick Mineer, said when they were inspecting the bridge, “Eddie (Rarrieck) walked on it and you could see the concrete move.”
   Fields said that the state would “close it” and they would be claiming the bridge as an emergency. Later in the week, they would take the necessary action to submit to the state a request for emergency action on the bridge.
    In the short term, Fields told the court he is looking into obtaining 3/4” thick metal plates that the state approved use to lay over the bridge, allowing it to reopen. He would tell the court at the special meeting on Thursday they were able to obtain plates from a variety of places, including borrowing from Bracken County, that would allow  them  to  place  six  plates that would reopen the bridge.
    Fields discussed with the magistrates the CARES funding they have received and plan for the funds. The county received $496,000 split among the Pendleton County Sheriff’s Department, Pendleton County Ambulance District and Northern Pendleton Fire and Ambulance District. There will be an additional $168,000 of CARES funds coming in 2021. The court would approve a MOA regarding the CARES funds at the special meeting.
    While the two other districts would determine the usage of their funds, Fields explained that that Sheriff Eddie Quinn was planning on using his funds out of the original reimbursement to purchase a vehicle and new laptops for each of the vehicles. A new vehicle costs approximately $40,000 with the new laptops being a similar amount.
    Fields explained the sheriff’s office will receive a total of approximately $134,000 with a first draw of $65,185.18, a second draw of $50,453.90 and a and a remainder of $19,059.79.
    The remaining balance of the original draw would be returned to the court in the form of excess fees. The court would use those funds to pay for the additional costs they incurred from the extended voting in the 2020 General Election.
    Mineer had many questions and concerns on the plan and expressed his reservations to the plan. Quinn is expected to present his 2021 budget at the Tuesday, December 22 meeting and the plan will be further discussed at that time.
    In other discussion, Fields told the court that the blocks for a new salt bin are ready for purchase but they need to “get truck to pick them up.” He did express frustration that “nobody has pole barns.”
    In the special meeting two days later, the court met to specifically to pay the bills for December since the county treasurer would not be available in between the holidays. They did approve transfers and bills.
    Beyond the actions previously mentioned, the court would approve naming scrap metal at the county road barn as surplus and an 80/20 funding for a second bridge on Milford Road. Because of work and other commitments, only Fields, Whaley and Gregg were present at the special meeting.