Town Council debates adding two members to the ABC Board

ABC Store

Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer

The Franklin Town Board opened its December meeting with a contentious debate regarding the ABC (alcohol beverage control) Board. During a public session,  Sissy Pattillo, ABC Board member, spoke passionately about her position regarding moving from a three-member board to a five-member board. Pattillo was referring to a statement made by Franklin Town Board member David Culpepper at last month’s meeting. Culpepper had suggested moving to a five- member board in order to allow more residents to become involved with the Town. Pattillo went on to explain that the ABC Board has been functioning as a three-member board for more than 24 years and has always been profitable, had clean audits, and was never late with any payments. She further explained that the board takes care of all expenses that may arise. As it stands now, they have been functioning with only two members since the resignation of a board member a few months ago. Although there are two residents who have applied for the ABC Board’s open position, Pattillo has not been privy to the names of those applicants. She also said that the ABC store is attractive, well stocked and impeccably clean. They have two full time employees and six part-time. Pattillo states that she does not see the need to move to a five-member board when the three-member board is functioning well. She also stated that the ABC Store was voted to enhance the town of Franklin, not to support it. After paying all the bills, the profits from the ABC Store range in the vicinity of $200,000 per month. Pattillo also took note of the fact that 65% of customers at the ABC Store were women and many of them like the location of the store along with its cleanliness and the fact that it is always well stocked. 

The other functioning ABC Board Member, Alton Sutton, also spoke about why he felt a three-member board was sufficient. He stated that the ABC board has been functioning well with three members but as of late they have had only two members because they have not been given the name of the two applicants. He felt that they should choose the third member so they at least can have their next meeting with a full board present. 

A bit of a discussion ensued as to why the names of the applicants hadn’t been released. Town Manager Summer Woodard then revealed the names of the applicants and asked for a vote on one of them from Pattillo and Sutton. The Town Board agreed that Woodard would approve whoever they chose. Woodard stated that it was public record that the two applicants were  Ron Winecoff and Farrell Jamison and they were both qualified to serve on the ABC Board. Pattillo and Sutton chose Jamison since he had an extensive history with the town. With that, Woodard approved Jamison as the third member of the ABC Board.

The discussion regarding moving to a five-member ABC Board did not end there. Several Town Board members bounced ideas back and forth as to the relevance of a five member board compared to a three member board. It was noted that no one from the Town Board had ever sat in on an ABC Board Meeting and Pattillo invited any member to attend any of their monthly meetings to see how they are run. Several town board members were interested in the invitation. 

The Franklin ABC store is located on Highlands Rd. and their rental agreement is up in three years. At $8,200 a month for rent, talk about relocating resurfaced. Board member Dinah Mashburn brought up the fact that every month they discuss an issue, such as the ABC Board going to a five member board, they never get enough information to make any knowledgeable decisions. She went on to say that perhaps there could be better dissemination of information among board members in the future.  She also felt that all the talk about moving to a five board member was jumping the gun. She stated that adding the third member was a priority and then information about other ABC Boards with five members should be researched and discussed when all relevant information was obtained. Town attorney John Henning Jr. intimated that it would be harder to go from a five member board than to a three member board once it was voted in. 

Other business

New Fire Chief Matt Breedlove was recognized by the board. Breedlove was born and raised in Franklin and has a heart for the town. Breedlove has served as the volunteer Assistant Chief at Franklin Fire Department and has a total of 17 years of experience. He previously worked as a Narcotics Detective with the Macon County Sheriff’s Department as well as a Patrol Officer for the Franklin Police Department. Breedlove leads a department of seven full-time staff, 10 part-time staff, and more than 25 volunteer firefighters.

Justin Allen, CPA with Martin Starnes and Associates, discussed the 2017/2018 financial audit. He stated that the Town was financially healthy with a fund balance increase of 6.6% or $189,000.

Vineyard owners, Dion and Cathy Sena submitted an application to obtain a variance in order to allow their business to offer drinks.  The Senas plan to offer residents and tourists samples of wine in a “Tasting Room” setting.  Since the business is a bonafide vineyard which produces wine ocated in Tellico Valley, is in a mixed use district, they are not allowed to offer alcohol to the public. The board felt that having a tasting room in Macon would be a great idea and draw a lot of customers. The board will look into obtaining the permits required to proceed with the request. 

The parking schedule for chapters 73 and 75 will be sent back to the planning board for further information. 

Nathanael Moore, Public Works Director, spoke about the town bridge. He stated that putting in a gravel walking path under the bridge would require a minimal process. Since the N.C.Department of Transportation was under the impression that the town was going to put in the walkway when they began work on the bridge, it will now be the Town of Franklin’s responsibility to do so. Moore will reach out to the Army Corps of Engineers in other counties along with other agencies, to get some input on construction. There was even talk about putting some picnic tables along the walkway. He did state that by building the walking path, a small homeless community would have to be relocated.

Town offices will be closed on Dec. 24, 25, and 26, in observance of the Christmas holiday and also on Jan. 1, 2019, in observance of New Years Day. 

Culpepper wanted to remind all residents about the Ruby Drop on New Years Eve. He said it is always a spectacular event to see. 

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Town Council will be on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.