A large crowd was on hand as the Columbia Board of Aldermen passed a new ordinance Tuesday allowing the sale of beer and wine on Sundays and at certain events at the Columbia Expo Center.
After a nearly 50-minute discussion with several dozen citizens, many of them ministers, the board voted 3-2 to place the ordinance into effect in 30 days.
Ward 1 Alderman Wendell Hammond, Ward 3 Alderwoman Anna Evans and Alderman-at-Large Edward Hough cast the supporting votes. Ward 2 Alderman Jason Stringer and Ward 4 Alderman Mike Smith were the two opposing votes.
Mayor Justin McKenzie said several people on both sides of the ordinance has requested to speak to the board and allowed them to address the issue.
Local businessman Paul Pounds spoke first, imploring the board to oppose Sunday sales.
“Let them drink Monday through Saturday, but don’t open it up to Sunday,” he said.
Gerald Broom, a member of Calvary Baptist Church, agreed.
“You’re going to be accountable,” he said. “This is God’s day. Let’s make it holy. Let’s keep it holy. I urge you to vote this down.”
But as several spoke out against the proposal, some came to support the ordinance, including microbrewer Philip McDaniel.
“I happen to love beer,” he said. “I don’t drink beer to get drunk; I drink it to go with food. If people want to get drunk, they can go to the liquor store and buy a bottle of Everclear. It’s got a purpose for that. What I want is an opportunity to open a business that will operate and thrive. I’ve brewed beer for more than a decade now. I’ve won awards. I’m a deeply moral person. I don’t want to be associated with putting drunks on the road.”
Mark Retcho urged the board not to “be guilted into voting against it.”
“The Lord turned water into wine,” he said. “Our town is dying – young people are not staying here. We need to change the ways of this town.”
Hough said he had listened to the arguments before voting and said people would drive to Bassfield, Hattiesburg or elsewhere to make purchases.
“I’ve thought about this and prayed about this,” he said.
Hough then made a motion that the city accept the draft of ordinance and the board voted to approve it.
For more, see Saturday’s edition of The Columbian-Progress.
Caption: Paul Pounds addresses the Columbia Board of Aldermen Tuesday evening before a vote on an ordinance to allow Sunday beer and wine sales in the city. Several citizens expressed their opinions to the board.