Poplar Bluff council votes to allow beer sales at venue

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Pastors and church members opposed to selling beer in the Black River Coliseum filled the Poplar Bluff city council chambers Monday night, but no minds were changed. The vote remained 5-2 to allow beer sales.

About 80 people, including at least 15 who had to stand, listened to two supporters of the coliseum's alcohol management plan and 11 opponents of the beer sales. After listening for 75 minutes, the council voted 6-1 to end the discussion. Councilman Loyd Matthews voted "no."

Pastors of several Poplar Bluff churches collected 1,332 signatures, urging the council to adhere to the 1999 ordinance that prohibited alcohol sales at public events in the coliseum. Council members in 1999 were only willing to allow consumption of alcohol at private events.

The current council voted 5-2 three times to allow beer sales at three concerts in 2007. The coliseum budget, which is part of the overall city budget, anticipates receiving $40,000 in revenue from beer sales at six concerts in 2008. By including this in the city budget, it eliminates the possibility of voting on each individual concert as before.

Matthews made a motion to amend the proposed 2008 budget by eliminating the income of $40,000 from beer sales, but it was defeated 5-2. Only Matthews and Councilwoman Betty Absheer voted in favor of removing beer sales revenue from the budget.

"The majority of people here tonight are against the sale of alcohol. If there was a vote of the people, it would not be allowed," Matthews said. "Council members several years ago decided not to do it. Betty and I have been against it every time."

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