Trenton Police Officer Christy Smith (foreground) chats with Mayor Alex Case and Police Commissioner Sandra Gray after a hearing on underage alcohol sales on Friday.
Mayor Alex Case at a special called meeting of the Trenton City Commission on Friday evening told the management of three local convenience stores cited for underage alcohol sales to go forth and sin no more, reinstating the right of each to sell beer and wine. First offense carries a suspension of two weeks, he said, and it had been a bit more than that since the Nov. 21 sting operation carried out by the Trenton Police Department in conjunction with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division of the Georgia Department of Revenue.
The owners of Eagle Express at 5278 Highway 136 West and the Citgo at 4454 Highway 136 West apologized, swore it wouldn't happen again, and explained how their employees happened to have made such a mistake. "There was some problem with the carwash and a customer that got mad on the clerk," said a representative for Eagle Spirit. "He was not in a right state of mind. But that is no excuse for him."
But the manager of Circle K, the corporation that runs the Kangaroo station at 190 Main Street, the third store cited, went them one better and gave their employee the ax. "This was the hardest termination I've ever done," said the manager. "She is one of the best employees we ever had." She explained that the longtime employee had been left by herself that night with a kerosene pump malfunctioning, but that company policy dictated she must go.
Besides the pink slip, the employee, along with those from the other stores, was arrested and must face charges not only in Trenton City Court but in Atlanta as well. "They're cited because they violated a city ordinance, but they also violated a state law," said Mayor Case.
Within Trenton city limits, the city commission acts as the alcoholic beverage governing authority, a function that in the unincorporated county is performed by a separate board appointed for that purpose.
Case said that a second offense for any of the stores means another license suspension, a third a 90-day suspension, and a fourth indefinite suspension. He urged the store owners to be responsible about alcohol sales and to encourage their employees to be responsible as well.
Trenton Police Investigator Christy Smith reminded the owners that busted meant busted. "As soon as you get cited, you have to put a sign up that says No Alcohol Sales," she said. "We had a report that one of the stores actually sold alcohol right after we left them."
She would not identify which one, saying she had not been able to confirm the report.
Investigator Smith said that 13 stores had been checked in the sting operation, and that those 13 included all the stores in Trenton that sell alcoholic beverages as far as she knows. The list came from the state, she said.