WARSAW — Three area locations received approval to renew their alcohol licenses, while one location was denied a permit.
The requests came during the regular meeting of the Kosciusko County Alcoholic Beverage Commission meeting, held Thursday afternoon, May 5. Wilby’s, Mentone, the VFW, Warsaw, and Huntington Street Bar and Grill, Syracuse, all received the board’s nod to renew their licenses, as they have had no violations.
The board had reservations, however, when it came to granting the new Mentone Dollar General a permit to sell beer and wine. ”
“Dollar General absolutely cards anyone and everyone who comes in their door,” attorney Jennifer Drewry said. “They have a zero tolerance policy for anyone who serves a minor.”
District Manager Tanna Hullinger, who was also present, added that, of 422 stores statewide, only three have had violations and the employees who did so were immediately terminated.
Drewry went on to say that alcohol is a small percentage of Dollar General’s overall income, most of which comes from groceries, and that selling beer and wine is more of a convenience for customers. She and Hullinger also pointed out Dollar General does not sell cold beer or liquor.
None of this, however, eased the minds of the majority of the board.
“I’ve been on this board a very long time and I’ve never approved a grocery store,” board member Elim Smith said. “It’s too easy for minors to walk out with it.”
He then added, “You can go to the state and they’ll override us, I know.”
Hullinger described the store’s security system, which includes roughly 15 or 16 cameras. The area designated for alcohol would be under cameras and would be within sight of the register, as well. The board, however, stuck to their decision.
“We turn down a lot of gas stations,” board member Kenneth Johnson said.
Board member Gordon Vanactor added, “We look very negatively on filling stations and grocery stores like Dollar General selling liquor.”
In the end, the vote was 3-1 against allowing Dollar General to sell alcohol, with Excise Officer April Tackett voting in favor. Hullinger and Drewry plan to go to the state board to appeal the decision.