Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Fear and Loathing in Watkinsville

I shook hands with my opponent Mike Link last night shortly after we agreed to disagreed about alcohol's origins in Watkinsville. I loudly volunteered "1795" as when alcohol was first allowed in our lovely town, with the distilled spirits supposedly responsible for the moving of the land grant University of Georgia to move to Athens to avoid the supposedly evil Eagle Tavern. 

Among my many jobs in Watkinsville was working in Eagle Tavern for Bonnie Murphy, and I basically kissed my freelance Athens Banner-Herald gig covering city council meetings goodbye after daring to cross swords with Anita Ford (then newly married to Wayne Ford) when she was running the place and did not want it to be open the day after Thanksgiving (which was Watkinsville's Bicentennial).

Whether this moving of the University of Georgia due to Eagle Tavern is hyperbole or fact, it does remain a big part of the folklore surrounding Watkinsville and the legend of the start of the anger with Athens that has obviously festered lo these many centuries later.

It does not appear that this re-elected city council member Mike Link is going to give any real consideration to beer, wine, or anything else in any spirited discussions or votes before the city council. That was my main impetus for running after watching his big thumbs down on all our restaurants and convenience stores. Change is slow is a small town, and you can't force people to think about something as abstract as being "more business friendly" because one of the current council people can't bring himself to think beyond his religious fervor.

Will the two members in Mike Huff and Brian Brodrick who championed the campaign against legal mixed drinks before the election be so intractable after the referendum passes? I would say three votes pretty much is a bloc and basically blocks Mayor Charles Ivie from moving forward with any plans for alcohol beyond the beer and wine already in place at Chops & Hops, Girasoles, and Mirko Pasta.

$1,000.00 is how much the annual licensing fee is for the privilege of selling or pouring beer and wine in Watkinsville, and while Messrs. Brodrick and Huff may feel this is a not a significant part of our tax base, I feel it is one that is obviously underrepresented and not given much of a fair chance. I did not share their view of outside agitators somehow hoodwinking Oconee County voters into supporting liquor by the drink at Jennings Mill or any other establishments here in Oconee County. Many examples of DePalma's and Loco's buying/leasing property have been bandied about in an attempt at persuading/dissuading voters on this measure.

So it appears the much heralded "open for business" sign on the front door of Watkinsville has nearly been removed, but we can wait and see what the Oconee County Board of Commissioners does first with the restaurant Cheddar's in the Epps Bridge Crossing.

The owners were banking on this passing, and it did, and now we have a convergence of sorts with the ongoing construction versus outgoing commissioners and it comes down to Oconee County Board of Commissioners chair Melvin Davis putting it on the agenda in either November or December's agenda or at least consent agenda for the following months.

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