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Hartselle Enquirer

Tempers flare in Priceville over alcohol license issue

A background check requirement of all business owners seeking a license to sell alcoholic beverages in the Town of Priceville triggered a flare-up of tempers and disrupted a regular council meeting Monday night.

Mayor Melvin Duran and Priceville Foodland owner Jim Gray exchanged heated words after Brenda Gray, Jim Gray’s wife, petitioned the governing body to waive a background check requirement of a wine distributor already licensed by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to do business in the state.

Jim Gray questioned the council’s loyalty to the town’s own businesses.

“I’ve never asked other competing businesses to locate here.” Duran responded. “In fact, I went to the bank with you and helped you get money to open your business.”

“That’s a lie,” Gray said.

“You don’t call me a liar,” Duran responded. “We can go outside and settle this right now.”

Both regained their composure and remained calm for the remainder of the meeting.

Councilman Larry Waddell and Town Attorney William “Woody” continued the conversation with Mrs. Gray.

“I’m here for one purpose only and that is to ask you to grant a wine distributor’s license to United-Johnson Brothers without requiring its 12 owners to undergo background checks,” she said. “I’m now buying wines from two distributors but they don’t have all of the wines we want to stock. Johnson Brothers does but they won’t come in as long as background checks of it owner is a licensing requirement.”

“We don’t want to do anything to hurt your business,” Waddell stated. “We are looking at making some other changes in the alcohol ordinance but agreed to hold up on making amendments until the end of this year.”

Sanderson pointed that the background check requirement has already been discussed and will be included in an amendment ordinance he is working on.

The governing body authorized Sanderson to proceed with a draft copy of a proposed ordinance and agreed to put it on the agenda for consideration at a November meeting.

Agenda items approved by the council are listed as follows:

• Purchased a new set of tires for the police chief’s patrol vehicle from the state low bid list up to $650.

• Paid the September bills totaling $64,071.82.

• Approved the Morgan County, mayors, clerks and commissioners monthly dinner to be hosted by the Town of Priceville Thur., Nov. 7, at Sedona Steakhouse in Hartselle.

• Approved $300 for support of the 22nd Annual Alabama Charity Horse Show at the Morgan County Celebration Arena.

• Purchased T-shirts for $500 for the Library Book It 10K/5K Run Sat., Nov. 2.

• Approved $1,400 for improvements to the baseball field at Priceville High School.

• Approved $240 registration, lodging and other expenses for Cindy Livingston to attend the Revenue Officers Certification Institute in Tuscaloosa Oct. 9-11, 2013.

• Approved up to $5,000 for travel and expenses to transport a donated 40mm anti-aircraft gun from Mississippi to the Morgan County Veterans Memorial in Priceville.

• Authorized the placement of a Cobblestone Subdivision sign on a Cambridge Drive right-of-way.

• Approved the first reading of a fire code ordinance requiring inspections, enforcement of building provisions and penalties for violations.

• Rescheduled the Nov. 11 council meeting for Nov 4 with the sewer board meeting a 4 p.m., work session at 5 p.m. and council meeting at 6 p.m.