Glad tidings for those denizens of Dade wistful for a little weekend whistle-wetting: Nearby Fort Payne, Ala., will begin Sunday liquor sales this Sunday.
The Fort Payne City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance allowing Sunday sales within the city limits, and City Clerk Andy Parker explained that in Alabama, an ordinance becomes legal as soon as it is published. The ordinance will be printed in Fort Payne's legal organ immediately, and stores and restaurants can then begin selling adult beverages fermented or distilled, for consumption on or off premises, depending on what liquor license they hold, and subject to Fort Payne's restrictions.
Those restrictions forbid package sales of alcohol between the hours of 2-5 a.m., and limit restaurants to serving booze after 10 a.m.
Clerk Parker said the new rules apply to both beer and wine and hard liquor, but added that in Alabama the latter is sold in state-run "ABC" stores, which he did not know could open on Sundays. A call to Fort Payne's one ABC store verified it would remain closed on Sundays--but a privately-owned store with an ABC-issued license to sell liquor, Carter's Beverages on Glenn Blvd. SW, will be open--though an employee there said he would have to see the new ordinance in writing before he could guarantee precisely what the store would be allowed to sell.
Beer and wine are sold in Fort Payne more ubiquitously, and can be had at Walmart, gas stations or grocery stores.
In Dade County, even though voters approved a liquor-by-the-drink referendum last November by a 60-40 margin, any attempt to loosen Prohibition Era blue laws has met with intractable resistance, particularly from the county commission. Parker said Fort Payne had expected some of that, too, and that in fact a few people had shown up to speak against the Sunday-sales ordinance at its first reading. Nor had
the vote to pass it been unanimous, with one council member voting against and one abstaining. "I don't know what it is about alcohol that disturbs people," said Parker. However, he said: "The overall sentiment is overwhelmingly for it."
Parker doesn't think it's a matter of Fort Payne residents being desperate to drink on Sunday. "It's not really so much about the alcohol as it is of development, the expansion of our tourism," he said. "That was our overwhelming concern."
Parker said a man who owned a tourism-dependent business had complained to him that if he had a group of seven tourists and only one wanted a drink with his dinner on a Sunday, the whole group would leave town to eat.
Economic development was stifled by the anti-alcohol laws, he said. "I don't know why alcohol is important to developers," said Parker. "But if it's important to developers and important to tourists, it's important to us."