Not since prohibition has a thirsty traveler been able to buy a beer in LaFollette on any given Sunday. However, the LaFollette City Council changed that January 4 by approving an ordinance allowing just that.
“It’s been pretty good,” said LaFollette Exxon employee Keishia Morris. “We’ve been working every Sunday since it started,” she commented about co-worker Connie Reid and herself.
The new city ordinance states that no alcohol can be purchased between midnight and 10 a.m. on Sundays which allows beer sales from 10 a.m. until midnight on Sunday. This includes bars (establishments selling alcohol for on-site consumption), as well as stores (establishments selling alcohol for off-site consumption). While bars cannot sell beer after midnight, the ordinance does allow “such beverages to be consumed, or to be opened for consumption, on or about the premises” between midnight and 12:15 a.m. These establishments, a business whose primary business is alcohol sales, must be vacated by 12:15 a.m.
January 9 was the first Sunday beer was available for purchase inside the city limits of LaFollette. Food City, among other businesses, display a sign on the front door indicating that beer can be purchased after 10 a.m. on Sunday.
LaFollette City Administrator Cade Sexton said the move to change the beer ordinance was brought to the council following a November 2010 Caryville referendum allowing that city to permit the sale of liquor, both by the drink and in a package. LaFollette councilwoman Stephanie Grimm and councilman Wayne Kitts voted against the ordinance that night, just as they had on the first and second reading of the ordinance during previously held meetings. The ordinance was supported by councilmen Hansford Hatmaker and Joe Bolinger. Mayor Mike Stanfield broke the tie vote on all three readings by casting his vote in favor of the ordinance’s approval.
While the change of LaFollette’s ordinance doesn’t address liquor, Sexton said that beer sales on Sunday will likely stop residents from traveling to neighboring cities to make a purchase on Sundays. This, he says will increase revenue brought in from beer sales.
“Instead of someone driving outside the city for beer, now they can stop at one of the stores or gas stations here,” said Sexton.
Connie Reid agreed.
“We have regulars who come in one Sunday now,” Reid said of the LaFollette Exxon’s Sunday beer sales.
“The ones who are going to drink are going to do it,” Reid said, pointing out that she doesn’t drink beer any day of the week. “All that revenue went to Lake City before. Now it stays here in town.”
“I think [my sales are] going up,” said Manuel Zapien, Manager of El Peublito. “Some customers buy beer.”
Zapien stated that a majority of the restaurant’s Sunday business comes from hungry churchgoers.
“People come from church and they don’t drink after they’ve finished church.”
“As to the increase in revenue, Sexton said, “We won’t know for two or three months how it will effect our revenue.”
National prohibition of alcohol became effective in January 1920 through the 18th amendment. In 1933, Congress approved the 21st amendment, the only amendment in the U.S. Constitution that repeals another amendment. The 21st amendment also allowed local governments to decide how to regulate alcohol sales and consumption. During this time, many municipalities and counties established their territory as “dry.” Some municipalities and counties have never re-legalized alcohol since prohibition, while others have opted to regulate times of sale. Three states: Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee are considered entirely dry by default. This means that counties must specifically authorize the sale of alcohol in order for it to be legal and subject to state alcohol control laws.
LaFollette’s alcohol ordinance now allows for alcohol sales everyday. Monday through Saturday, beer can be purchased all day, except from midnight to 6 a.m. On Sunday, beer cannot be sold between midnight and 10 a.m. LaFollette currently has 16 businesses with alcohol sales permits including six gas station/delis, five restaurants, three retail stores and two bars.