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Rincon won’t put Sunday sales on March ballot

POSTED: January 5, 2012 5:57 p.m.

Rincon will not include a referendum on Sunday alcohol sales on its March 6 presidential preference primary ballot.

A surprise addition to the Rincon City Council inauguration meeting, the referendum would have asked the public to vote on retail sales of beer and wine on Sundays between 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

The item was added to the agenda an hour and a half before the meeting and some of the members who voted against adding the referendum to the March ballot said they felt the issue was too important to decide so quickly, without consulting constituents.

“A spur of the moment decision — I had to follow my heart on that one,” said James Dasher, who was sworn in as a council member moments before the vote. “I believe we need to still maintain Sunday as a holy day.

“Just because the county does something doesn’t always mean we need to follow suit.”

Effingham County Board of Commissioners intend to include a Sunday sales referendum to the March 6 ballot. The change — if passed — would go into effect immediately and would only apply to the unincorporated areas of the county.

“The county votes whether they put it on the ballot for the unincorporated areas; the city votes whether to put it on the ballot for the city,” city attorney Raymond Dickey said. “In Rincon, right now, it’s turned down.”

With the absence of Councilman Frank Owens, the motion failed in a 3-2 vote. Dasher, Levi Scott and Reese Browher voted no, with Scott Morgan and Paul Wendelken voting for the referendum.

Scott echoed Dasher’s sentiments about keeping Sunday sacred.

“I kind of like discussion on items like that,” Scott said. “It’s just something I think is unnecessary. I think we’ve got the weekend and Saturday alcohol sales already. I just don’t think we should commercialize every day. Sunday is one day that we need not to commercialize. I know we have our stores open, but I think there’s a limit to where we need to go.”

Dickey said the item was added at the last minute so that there would be enough time to fulfill the city’s legal requirements for such ballot initiatives, such as advertising to the public and to send the ballot to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Wendelken said he voted for the referendum not as an endorsement of Sunday sales, but to bring the sensitive issue to the public for them to decide.

“It’s not like we’re voting for it, we’re just voting to have the referendum,” he said. “That’s my big thing: that we aren’t voting for it, but let the people decide.”

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