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October 26, 2012

Good Hope approves first alcohol licenses

GOOD HOPE — The Good Hope city council granted its first round of alcohol licenses to three local businesses this week, clearing the way for the city’s first-ever legal liquor sales.

All three of Good Hope’s first licensees are convenience stores, and all will be licensed to sell beer for off-premises consumption. Two will also sell wine. The city council unanimously approved the licenses at its Monday regular meeting, after the Good Hope alcohol review committee recommended the council approve all three applicants.

The Jack’s Truck Stop Shell station, the Jet Pep fuel station and Good Hope Exxon — all located on the north side of Interstate 65 on Ala. Highway 69 — each will sell beer for customers to take home. The Jet Pep and the Shell station will sell wine for off-premises consumption as well.

Mayor Corey Harbison said it’s likely his city would see its first alcohol sale some time next week, although each of the three businesses must obtain final approval from the Alabama Beverage Control Board before making alcohol available.

“It may be the middle of the week next week, or it could take a week or maybe two on all of them,” said Harbison. “Each of the businesses still has to get their approval from the state. Once they’ve got that, then they will turn around and pay the city our licensing fee, and then they can start selling.”

So far, no business in Good Hope has obtained a license to sell hard liquor from the city. Harbison noted much of a town’s revenue from alcohol sales comes not from the sale of beer and wine, which is regulated by the state, but from local fees on the sale of liquor.

“I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about the money that’s going to the coming in, especially on beer and wine sales,” said Harbison. “Our 12 percent local fee is for hard liquor only; it’s not for beer and wine. We only see significant revenues in Good Hope, for our town, on hard liquor sales. Really, the most revenue we will get out of selling only beer and wine is the 8.5 percent sales tax that the county has, which applies to any retail sale.”

Good Hope went wet earlier this year after voters approved a legal sales referendum on their second attempt in as many years. The city becomes the third in Cullman County — preceded by Cullman and Hanceville — to have been voted wet since the passing of a 2009 state law that opened wet/dry referenda to smaller Alabama towns.

* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at bbullard@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.

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