Archive for Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Liquor stores open doors for first Sunday

Greg Krouse, of Mary’s Retail Liquor, left, sells beer to Christi Hatfield, rural Tonganoxie, on Sunday. Hatfield was one of the first customers to purchase alcohol on a Sunday in Tonganoxie thanks to results of the Sept. 22 special election allowing Sunday and select holiday retail sales.

Greg Krouse, of Mary’s Retail Liquor, left, sells beer to Christi Hatfield, rural Tonganoxie, on Sunday. Hatfield was one of the first customers to purchase alcohol on a Sunday in Tonganoxie thanks to results of the Sept. 22 special election allowing Sunday and select holiday retail sales.

September 30, 2009

The final numbers are in and even more people voted in favor of selling liquor on Sunday.

On Friday the Leavenworth County Commissioners canvassed the votes to finalize the election numbers.

During the special election, 392 residents voted with 260 voters agreeing to Sunday sales and 132 disagreeing.

Mary Krouse, owner of Mary’s Retail Liquor, said she was happy that people came out to vote how they really felt about the issue.

“It’s great,” she said. “This came down to an economic question. We’ve got to keep moving forward economically. Times are tough for the city, so it’s good that the tax money will stay in our community. I’m very pleased with the result.”

At noon Sunday the doors at the three liquor stores in Tonganoxie opened for the first time.

Christi Hatfield, rural Tonganoxie, was one of the first people to take advantage of Tonganoxie’s new law.

She stopped at Mary’s Retail Liquor to purchase beer shortly after liquor stores opened at noon Sunday.

“It’s about time,” Hatfield said about the liquor sales.

She said she was purchasing beer for watching the Chiefs game. She said buying beer on Sundays in Tonganoxie meant she didn’t have to make longer trips to towns where sales were allowed on Sundays.

Greg Krouse, who was working at Mary’s Retail Liquor on Sunday, said he was glad the special election question passed.

“I was getting really tired of hearing everyone complain,” he said.

He said people who are having guests at their homes to watch a Chiefs game at the last minute can purchase in Tonganoxie rather than drive to Basehor or Lawrence.

“I think a lot of people would rather not stock up,” Krouse said.

Kathy Bard, assistant city administrator, said Tonganoxie’s new law also means that the city’s convenience stores and grocery store can start selling beer on Sundays.

The argument about whether cities would be allowed to sell liquor on Sundays began in late 2002, when voters in Wyandotte County voted for Sunday sales. County officials said that Kansas’ liquor laws did not apply uniformly to all cities so they could use home-rule laws to opt out.

In 2004, the Kansas Supreme Court agreed with the county’s decision and made it legal for cities and counties to choose whether to sell liquor on Sundays.

The topic was first approached in the Tonganoxie City Council in September 2003, when the council was in favor of Sunday sales, but a petition blocked the measure asking the item to be put to a vote. Not wanting to expend the money for an election, the council dropped the measure.

Over the years the topic has resurfaced with proponents of Sunday liquor sales and their opponents making strong arguments for their side. It was almost always asked to let the people of Tonganoxie decide on the issue, but until this year the issue of who would pay for the election always stopped the council from moving forward.

Through the years the number of people attending the meetings to discuss either side began to dwindle.

"It wasn’t surprising," Dennis Bixby, Sunday liquor opponent, said about the election results. "It was a disappointment, but we’ve had people who have gone down there each time and signed petitions, do whatever, and I think it kind of got them worn down."

The last two times the topic of Sunday and holiday sales came up on the City Council’s agenda, Bixby was the only person in the public seats giving arguments against allowing the sales.

On the council, Jim Truesdell and Tom Putthoff made their opinions on Sunday sales clear by voting against the measure every time it came up, but Truesdell also saw support for their opinion starting to wane.

He said Monday that he wasn’t happy with the results of the election or the voter turnout, but he was glad the decisions was left to the people.

“The voters made a decision and we’ll just have to stick with it,” he said.

Kansas Statute 12-3013 states: Any ordinance proposed by a petition as herein provided and passed by the governing body or adopted by a vote of the electors, shall not be repealed or amended except (1) by a vote of the electors, or (2) by the governing body, if the ordinance has been in effect for 10 years from the date of publication, if passed by the governing body, or from the date of the election, if adopted by a vote of the electors.

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