News 12 First at Five / Monday, Oct. 17, 2011
GROVETOWN, Ga. -- Early voting is underway in Harlem and Grovetown and what's making headlines is not who people are voting for, but what.
Grovetown is the first city in the area to put Sunday alcohol sales on the ballot. If voters say yes, they could be the only city allowed to sell it for months, giving the economy there a small pat on the back. But it's no cake walk, we talked with people on both sides of the issue.
"Here you go, thanks so much," said Peter Lee to a customer.
Lee owns GT Package Shop. It's one of two liquor stores in the city limits, but he's not exactly "for" Sunday alcohol sales.
"Personally, I like to take a day off on Sundays," Lee said. "After church, I like to spend some time with my family."
But Lee may be willing to sacrifice his Sunday afternoons if it means more money in his cash register.
"That could be a significant traffic towards Grovetown," he said.
But it's not up to him, it's up to voters -- who have a few weeks to decide.
"It's a lot of revenue for the city of Grovetown, if that's what they're looking at," said Gail Daniels of Grovetown.
"We could improve the roads, widen the road. We could use more traffic lights, we could use more police officers," Lee said.
"I think it would be beneficial for the city as well as for the economy," said Wade Towns of Augusta.
Towns says he would drive from Augusta to Grovetown if he needed beer, wine or liquor.
"It's convenience," he said.
Long term though, Lee says Sunday sales will make or break him.
"I think it's going to be all equal out. I might have less customers on Saturday night, but I'm going to have customers on Sunday," he said.
"When you open, you've got to make sure you've got people there to work so that's a big controversy, too," Daniels said.
And if voters say yes, Lee says he'll likely hire someone and give the people what they want.
"If the law passes, then I have no choice to open," he said.
"It's gonna pass," Towns said.
But not everyone is so confident.
"There's quite a few that would vote against it," Daniels said.
The city administrator says they simply can't predict the numbers and have no idea if Sunday sales would help at all, but they're hopeful.
Early voting is going on right now at the county board of elections office. Then there's advanced voting for two weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8.
Grovetown is not the only place talking about Sunday sales. The City of Augusta is planning to add liquor to its list of what can be sold. Originally it was just beer and wine. Sunday sales likely will be on the ballot for voters in Richmond County on March 6.
And we wanted to know what you thought. A News 12 poll shows 62 percent of people support sales on Sunday. We had 1,600 responses.
Sunday sales may be the hot topic, but there are also some city council seats up for grabs, as part of the upcoming election.
Incumbent Jennifer Jones, Theopolis Knight and Dale Stoddard are all running for two Grovetown seats.
Then in Harlem, incumbent Tom Blalock is facing off against C.D. Morris, Melanie Dappie and Greg Stokes for the other two seats.