In Oct. 29 IssueBy Greg WellsTimes Journal Managing Editor
County Attorney Mark McGaha made his arguments unopposed before Circuit Judge Vernon Miniard Tuesday morning.
He began by attacking the wording of the original petition, and went on to say that, "there is no precinct that has been allowed to vote - only cities or counties."
McGaha has held out that the petition for a vote should be allowed in Jamestown on the question of whether restaurants should be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages in establishments that seat more than 100 and derive at least 70 percent of their proceeds from food sales.
The county attorney has consistently held that those in Russell County's Lake Precinct should not be allowed to vote on the same issue despite having presented a petition to that effect, which like the Jamestown petition was certified by the county clerk.
He conceded that there are provisions to allow precincts to vote wet individually, but that was not applicable in this case because the original petitions did not enumerate those previsions which may have allowed that in this case.
The judge sat, reading the materials McGaha had brought to court.
Shoulder to shoulder the audience sat in the court room. The jury box was occupied by defendants awaiting their time before the judge as other lawyers shuffled papers and a baby cooed to its mother.
After a time Miniard looked up at McGaha and told him he was not disposed to taking the vote from anyone who has applied for it and over his reply told the lawyer that "statutes aren't always the overriding authority. I'll take this under advisement and give you and answer…"
It was about an hour later that Miniard rendered his 3-page decision.
"The County Attorney of Russell now makes a motion, on unfounded grounds…" wrote Miniard as he lead into his ruling denying the motion.
"This Court, following statutory and common law, has determined that it is the duty and responsibility of all Russell County officials to insure that the citizens of the City of Jamestown, Lake Precinct and Jamestown Precinct are able to exercise their right of deciding for themselves whether or not to allow the sale of alcohol in their community."
His ruling on the 27th of October would continue the process for an election that has been set for November 24th.
There is no word yet on whether the county attorney or county judge will press the issue with an appeal to a higher court.
Many in the audience during McGaha's argument were pastors, or other's in opposition to the sale of beer, wine and other spirits anywhere in the county.
Pastor Wayne Keith said the last thing the county needed was more alcohol. He called Greg Troutt into the conversation.
Troutt heads a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, Second Chance Outreach, in Jamestown, and another in Columbia.
He said that after praying that morning he opened his bible to a passage in Habakkuk 2-15 that opposed alcohol.
When asked about the common biblical reference approving of the consumption of wine they said the wine of the bible was not fully fermented.
"It was grape juice," Troutt said.
Ernest Bell and Pastor Herl Robertson both of whom grew up here said they had been alcoholics and now opposed more alcohol coming into the county.
Associate Pastor Dennis Price of the Russell Springs United Methodist Church said he didn't believe the community should be sending the message that it was okay to drink.