McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

April 8, 2014

Chili's plans to seek county-wide vote on Sunday liquor sales

McALESTER — Chili’s Grill & Bar of McAlester wants to sell liquor by the drink on Sundays — and company representatives plan to ask Pittsburg County commissioners to call an election so voters can decide the matter.

The item was on the agenda for the commissioners’ regular Monday meeting at the Pittsburg County Courthouse.

However, District 2 Commissioner/Commission Chairman Kevin Smith said the item would be tabled until the next Monday meeting at the request of Chili’s.

Smith said Monday that all he knew about the matter was that representatives from Chili’s had asked that the item be placed on the meeting agenda.

It had been listed on the agenda as “Representatives of Chili’s of McAlester to address the Board requesting the Board approve a question on an upcoming election regarding the sale of liquor on Sundays.”

Smith said there is currently no election scheduled on the matter, although he still expects Chili’s representatives to ask the commissioners to pass a resolution calling for a public vote regarding the sale of liquor on Sundays. He said county commissioners planned to do more research on the matter.

Chili’s is at 617 S. George Nigh Expwy.

Chili’s of McAlester Manager Brittany Heath confirmed Monday that Chili’s plans to seek an election regarding the sale of liquor on Sundays in Pittsburg County.

Asked why, she said “to help with sales and help the county. By having more sales, we’ll give more back to the city,” she said, referring to the anticipation of additional sales tax collections for both the city and the county.

What brought the matter up at this time?

“We’ve had a lot of people come in from out of town,” Heath said. “They don’t get upset, but they say it’s crazy we can’t sell it at that time,” she said, referring to sales of drinks with liquor on Sundays.

Further questions were referred to Chili’s General Manager Candace Watkins, who refereed further questions to Chili’s corporate division. However, the News-Capital had not heard anything further from Chili’s as this article was being prepared for publication.

In addition to passage of an election resolution from Pittsburg County commissioners, Oklahoma law also allows for such an election to be called by an initiative petition, requiring signatures of at least 15 percent of the number of registered voters in Pittsburg County who cast a ballot in the last general gubernatorial election, according to  Capt. Joe Daniels, who is agent in charge of the McAlester District Office of the state Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission.

Assistant Pittsburg County Election Board Secretary Tonya Barnes said a total of 12,479 ballots were cast in Pittsburg County during the 2010 General Election for governor.

That means at least 1,872 signatures of registered Pittsburg County voters would be needed to reach the required 15 percent to call an election by initiative petition on the sale of liquor on Sundays in Pittsburg County.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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