Jonesboro Council OKs Sunday alcohol sales

In other business: Grant-writing group fired

This weekend will mark the first time people will be able to buy packaged alcohol on Sunday, within the Jonesboro city limits, according to city officials.

That is because the Jonesboro City Council unanimously approved an ordinance on Monday, to allow stores to sell packaged alcohol between the hours of 12:30 p.m., and midnight, on Sundays.

The council’s vote comes on the heels of Jonesboro’s electorate voting 199-133 in favor of allowing Sunday alcohol sales, during a referendum held a week ago. The city council’s action was the final step needed to make the results official, as city code had to be amended to allow for Sunday sales.

Mayor Luther Maddox said the door is now officially open for people to buy alcohol on Sundays from any convenience store, package store and grocery store located within the city limits. “It was approved tonight — the council adopted it tonight — and [Sunday Alcohol sales can begin] once the council signs off on the ordinance,” Maddox said.

Although voters in many Georgia cities approved Sunday sales last week, city councils still have to vote to formally change city ordinances, which had previously barred package sales on Sundays.

Jonesboro will become one of the first cities, if not the first city, in Clayton County where packaged alcohol can be purchased on Sundays. College Park’s web site states that this weekend would be the earliest day for Sunday alcohol sales to begin, although it was not clear, Monday night, if Sunday alcohol sales would definitely begin this week. College Park voters approved the sales last week, by a 674-383 vote.

Residents in Forest Park, Lake City and Riverdale — where Sunday alcohol sales were also approved by voters — will have to wait a little bit longer before they can see packaged sales begin in their cities.

Although the voters approved the measure, the city councils in two of those cities have not yet voted to amend their ordinances to reflect the change. Lake City took care of the ordinance issues when its city council voted earlier this year to hold a referendum, according to Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt.

Still, Oswalt said the referendum was set up so Sunday sales would not become legal in the city until Jan. 1, 2012. Similarly, Riverdale also set up its referendum so alcohol sales would begin with the new year.

Riverdale’s city council still has to vote, however, to change its alcohol sales ordinance to reflect the referendum results. But Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon has also indicated that the council will likely accept the change, based on the referendum results (Riverdale voters approved it 305-174).

Forest Park’s City Council “quite possibly” will vote on its own ordinance change on Nov. 21, with Sunday alcohol sales commencing soon afterward — if the change is OKed, according to Forest Park City Manager John Parker. “That would likely go into effect on Dec. 1, in that case,” he said.

In other action at Monday’s Jonesboro City Council meeting, members voted 5-1 in favor of terminating a contract with the Georgia Grant Writers group, who had been hired earlier this year to write grant proposals for the city. Pat Sebo cast the lone vote against firing the group.

In recent weeks, officials from the city and Georgia Grant Writers had said communication issues existed between the group and Jonesboro’s leaders. The group’s Principal Grant Writer Terry Lawler was expected to meet with city officials late last week to address the communication issues, but Maddox said the meeting never took place. Also, there was no representative of the group present at Monday’s city council meeting, to respond to the mayor’s assertions.

“We were going to have meetings with the Georgia Grant Writers, but they never came through with any communication for meetings or anything, so I figure they must not want the job,” Maddox said.

The group was hired with the stipulation that it would only be paid for grants the city received through applications filed by the group. City officials charged that the group was not applying for grants, and not responding to their attempts to reach Georgia Grant Writers officials. No grants were applied for by the group.

Lawler told councilmembers last week that city officials were not providing his group with the information it needed to complete grant applications. He said, at the time, that the communication issues had already resulted in the city missing out on a trails grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.