McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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April 21, 2014

County commissioners take no action on Sunday alcohol vote

McALESTER — For the third time Pittsburg County Commissioners did not make a decision to allow voters to decide if a Pittsburg County restaurant can sell alcohol on Sunday.

The commissioners met Monday for a regular meeting at the Pittsburg County Courthouse.

Chili’s restaurant in McAlester is behind the request and this is the third time the commissioners have had this issue before them.

The first time the commissioners voted to table the  vote at the request of Chili’s restaurant.

The second time it was tabled by the commissioners because they needed to do some homework and “see where our liability stands,” Smith said.

And Monday the commissoners voted to take no action on the decision.

Chili’s Managing Partner Candice Watkins was at Monday’s meeting to follow up on the request.

Watkins told the commissioners she brought the ballot wording used by another county that successfully voted to overturn the law banning Sunday alcohol sales.

During Monday’s meeting the commissioners voted to take no action on the issue because Smith said he is waiting for a decision from District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward and the Pittsburg County Election Board before they can act on the request.

Smith said several things must looked at when the commissioners decide if the voters can elect to have Sunday alcohol sales.

“We have to see what kind of calls we get and look at the legal aspects,” Smith said.

District 3 Commissioner Trent Myers said he thinks the Pittsburg County voters can decide for themselves.

“We just need to look at the whether or not its legal and make sure it don’t cost us, we’re limited on funds,” Myers said.

District 1 Commissioner Gene Roger said he believes the voters can make the decision on the issue.

“I’m not against allowing the people to vote on it,” Roger said.

McAlester resident Marsha Coyle said she was shocked when she learned it was illegal to sell alcohol on Sundays.

“I am very surprised it’s even an issue, Coyle said.

“I don’t see the evil in it. It’s about having a choice, I wouldn’t someone else deciding what’s best for me, it’s about personal freedom.”

Coyle said she plans attend the next commissioners meeting to show them the tax revenue increase that Payne County received after voters approved Sunday alcohol sales in 2012.

“The had a huge increase in tax revenue,” Coyle said.

“It’s time to do this and the commissioner need to allow the people to decide. The commissioners need to do what the people want, not what their donors want.”

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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