Wadesboro council nixes alcohol sales during fall festival, honors employees

Imari Scarbrough

July 8, 2014

On Monday, the Wadesboro Town Council denied a request from the Taste of the Pee Dee Festival committee to allow festival-goers to drink alcohol on Wade Street during the festival.

The committee requested that the town allow adults ages 21 and over to obtain a wristband from a booth identifying them as eligible to purchase alcohol. Attendees wearing the wristband would have been allowed to purchase alcohol from Oliver’s Restaurant and drink it in special containers anywhere from in front of Oliver’s and the town hall to the square during the festival any time from 1-9 p.m.

As carrying an open container of alcohol on the streets uptown is against city ordinance, it was up to the town to make the decision. The result was a split vote with Councilmen Jeremy Burr and James David Lee for the allowance and Bobby Usrey and John Ballard against it. As Councilman Fred Davis was absent, Mayor Bill Thacker broke the vote with a negative response. Those who voted against it were concerned that allowing alcohol would be at odds with the festival’s family-friendly nature, leave the town and committee members liable if something went wrong, and that alcohol would be transferred from the special cup to a different one, disguising it.

Adults who wish to purchase alcohol from Oliver’s during the festival can still do so, but they will have to drink it in or on the sidewalk in front of Oliver’s, as that is currently allowed under the sidewalk dining ordinance.

Moving on to finances, Town Manager Alex Sewell called the general fund a “pleasant surprise” as it is performing better than originally anticipated. He attributed that to several factors, including decreased service (e.x., the town’s reduced trash pickup), cut backs, and holding staff positions.

Although the water and sewer fund had a net gain, the town still experienced an operating loss once system depreciation was factored in, Sewell said. Although both systems need repairs and upgrades, the funds for do not exist in the town’s budget.

The town awarded service awards to three town employees. Detective Bradley Davidson was honored for his five years of service, Chief Thedis Spencer for his 20 years of service, and Phyllis Lowe for her 25 years of service.

Only one person spoke during the time for citizens’ comments. Ethel Taylor, a resident on Boggan Cut Road, said that her area was brought into the Wadesboro city limits several years ago, but that she and her neighbors have noticed a low degree of city service. She complained that one house next to her is unoccupied and that grass has grown high. She said that the property is not only an eyesore but dangerous, as the high grass hides the pit bulls that have taken up residence under the house.

Afraid of the danger the dogs pose, she said she doesn’t let her young grandson play in the yard, and is afraid for neighborhood children. It’s also difficult on the rest of the community. “We’re homeowners, and we’re trying to make our resident area look nice,” she said. Sewell said that the town will follow the protocol of the city ordinance and will send a second letter if the first he has already sent is not answered. If there is no response to the second letter, the town will cut the grass and charge the property owner for the cost of doing so.

In other business:

  • The town’s street sweeper broke and, as they are expensive, the town is waiting to receive a quote before the council decides on the purchase. Sewell noted that the town does hope to have clean streets for the Taste of the Pee Dee festival.

  • Sewell also provided a brief update on the East Wade bridge. The bid documents are nearly finished and the town plans to go to bid soon. The project is still on schedule to finish by the beginning of 2015, Sewell said.

  • The council discussed the need to further educate the public about the new trash pickup changes, but did not decide on how to get the word out to citizens.

The council’s next regular meeting will be on Aug. 4 at 5 p.m. at the Town Hall.