By JIMMY ESPY
It looks like Trion voters will get a chance to vote on Sunday beer sales and liquor-by-the-drink.
Last Thursday at a town council work session, Mayor Larry Stansell asked council members if they would put those ideas to a public vote in November. County voters approved the same policies in a referendum earlier this year.
Currently, the only two businesses in Trion which sell alcohol are Tor Taco Mexican Restaurant and the Trion Golf Course. However, the town is expected to annex about four acres near the Mountain View intersection, including a convenience store owned by Chandrika Patel.
“It would be a terrible economic blow to that business owner if everybody else can sell beer on Sunday and he can’t,” said Stansell. “Ultimately, this will be a decision by the citizens.”
Council member Linda Ingle, a consistent opponent of any alcohol sales, was not at the meeting on Thursday. None of the other council members voiced an objection.
Under the plan approved by county voters, beer can be sold at designated hours on Sunday. Liquor could be sold by the drink Monday through Saturday at designated hours. No liquor would be sold on Sundays.
Mayor Stansell was clearly hoping for more discussion of this looming issue but council members had little say about it.
Council members appear willing to leave the power to fire employees in the hands of the mayor, as long as termination could be appealed to a committee appointed by the council. That’s the current policy and it’s one Town Attorney Albert Palmour suggested the council not alter.
“I’m fine with Albert’s recommendation on the firing policy,” said Councilman Mickey McGraw.
However, council members appeared ready to move ahead this Thursday with a vote to shift the final approval of new hires from the mayor to the council.
Stansell has opposed that change bitterly but on Monday seemed almost resigned to it happening.
“I don’t understand what council’s objection is but if they want to do it, that’s fine,” said Stansell on Monday. “Council can, within certain parameters of the charter, can do what it wants to do. I just can’t fathom the council wanting to be that involved in the process.”
Council members have not criticized Stansell publicly about his hiring practices.
“I think the council wants to be more active in the hiring process,” said McGraw. “This isn’t about Mayor Stansell; it’s about us wanting to know who’s working for the town. That’s the way it works with the school board. That’s the way it works in other towns.”
* Council discussed allowing Recreation Department Director Rusty Brown to buy a zero-turn lawnmower for approximately $12,000. Several citizens at the workshop questioned the need to spend so much money for a lawnmower. Mayor Stansell later told The News that the town needed to buy the more expensive commercial model because is was more durable and would last longer.
* Council discussed the need for further work on the sidewalk along First Street. Stansell said the town has overlooked infrastructure repairs for a long time and now has limited resources to try and catch up.
* Council discussed the possibility of hiring a full-time code enforcement officer. But who that officer would work for was unclear.
Councilman Don Harris reiterated his view, that code enforcement would be more effective if administered by a police officer. But Police Chief Jason Kellett pointed out that many of the code regulations required knowledge of wiring, plumbing and other areas where his officers had very limited expertise.
The current code officer position, which is unfilled, is assigned to Maintenance Supervisor Eddy Willingham.
* Council discussed water and sewer billing problems associated with duplexes in the town.
* Willingham updated the mayor and council on grading work at the industrial park.