ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Commissioners voted 5-4 on Monday to add a referendum for the on-premises sale of beer and wine to the November ballot.
Bladen County Manager Greg Martin said the matter was brought up for consideration under the agenda item for matters of interest to commissioners. Commissioner Wayne Edge made a motion to have the referendum added to the November ballot, and Commissioner Mike Cogdell seconded the motion, said Martin.
Commissioners voting for adding the referendum to the ballot were Delilah Blanks, Cogdell, Daniel Dowless, Edge and Mark Gillespie. Those commissioners voting against adding the referendum to the ballot were Jimmie Smith, Russell Priest, Charles Ray Peterson and Billy Ray Pait.
A referendum for the countywide sale of beer and wine was soundly defeated in May.
Bruce Cannon, director of missions for the Bladen Baptist Association, said this referendum was more dangerous than the last one in that it could potentially lead to people drinking and driving.
“We had no clue it was coming up until last night (Monday),” said Cannon of the matter. “We’re very disappointed at a couple of commissioners who have stood with us.”
Cannon said that he is in contact with both the N.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Board in Raleigh and the Board of Elections office seeking further information on the referendum.
“We’re working hard to help people and this is counterproductive,” said Cannon.
Bladen County Board of Elections Director Cynthia Shaw said that her staff is waiting to receive the signed resolution from the commissioners.
“I’ve not seen anything yet. All I know is it happened last night (Monday),” said Shaw.
Jeff Smith of Dublin was also circulating a petition requesting the referendum be added to the November ballot. Shaw said that Smith did come to the Board of Elections office and fill out the paperwork for the petition in a “timely manner.”
“As far as any petition circulating from Jeff Smith, I’ve not received anything from him. No signatures have been submitted to the Board of Elections,” said Shaw. “Obviously, it is going on the ballot in November by resolution of the governing body.”
Currently in Bladen County, the towns of Clarkton, East Arcadia and Elizabethtown allow the sale of both malt beverages and unfortified wine. According to information provided by the N.C. ABC Board, Elizabethtown voters approved the sale of both beverages on June 29, 1976; Clarkton approved the sale of both beverages on Nov. 6, 2001; East Arcadia approved the sale of both beverages on July 10, 1990.
White Lake approved the sale of unfortified wine on Aug. 25, 1981.
Elizabethtown voters also approved the sale of mixed beverages on Sept. 10, 2002 and fortified wine on Oct. 6 ,1981. Elizabethtown voters also approved an ABC store on Oct. 6, 1981.White Lake voters approved the addition of an ABC store to their community on Aug. 25, 1981 along with the approval of the sale of fortified wine. The White Lake ABC Store closed its doors Sept. 1, 1984.
In May, during the primary voting with referendums to allow for the sale of beer and wine county wide on the ballot, Bladen County voters defeated the measures. The beer reeferendum was nixed by a 4,232 to 3,670 vote; the beer referendum lost by a vote of 4,204 to 3,671.