BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (January 7) — Members of the Dresden Beer Board, composed of Mike Youngblood, Mark Bell and Tim Spence, met via conference call on Thursday, January 7 at 6 p.m., to discuss violations of the City of Dresden’s Beer Ordinance.
Four local businesses were found to be in violation of selling alcohol to persons under the age of 21.
The violations were discovered when the Dresden Police Department and Weakley County Prevention Coalition performed a compliance check of area businesses selling alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption.
According to official reports, on Friday, December 18, 2020, Lt. Bryan Chandler of the Dresden Police Department, with the assistance of the Weakley County Prevention Coalition, performed undercover alcohol sales compliance checks at local businesses, which have permits to sell alcohol within the city limits of Dresden.
Lt. Chandler states the Weakley County Prevention Coalition provided a 20-year-old undercover person, who participated in compliance checks at nine area businesses.
Four of the businesses checked were found to be in violation of Dresden’s Beer Ordinance. The businesses and clerks who sold beer to the underage individual are: TJ’s Market, 461 East Main St., Kathy Sieber; Dollar General Store, 8535 Hwy. 22, Mattie West; Little General, 8603 Hwy. 22, Elizabeth Dietz; and Sayle Oil Company (Exxon), 8617 Hwy. 22, Kimberly Williams.
The store clerks who sold alcoholic beverages to the minor undercover agent at these businesses were issued a citation to appear in Weakley County General Sessions Court for violation of state law (T.C.A. 57-4-203), which forbids selling alcohol to minors. The clerks were advised to contact their managers and advise them of the situation. Their cases, which were originally scheduled for January, were reset for February 4, due to COVID. However, due to COVID, Lt. Chandler stated it would most likely be March at the earliest before these employees’ cases are settled.
“Compliance checks are performed by the Dresden Police Department to determine if local alcohol permit holders are complying with state and local laws and ordinances, which prohibit the sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 21,” Lt. Chandler said. “The City of Dresden regularly educates local alcohol retailers concerning minimum age alcohol laws and the importance of verifying the age of their customers before selling age-restrictive products such as alcohol.”
Those businesses refusing to sell beer to the minor were: Q Mart, 360 East Main St.; Kountry Korner, 9308 Hwy. 22; CVS Pharmacy, 6616 Greenfield Hwy. 54; E.W. James, 8724 Hw.y 22; and La Cabana, 8727 Hwy. 22.
“This was the first compliance check in the past year,” said Dresden City Recorder Jennifer Branscum. She added the city has traditionally had first, second and third offenses within a one-year period, and these are the first offenses within the past year. They are determined to be second and third offenses, if they occur within the probationary period.
Branscum stated, historically, the first offense results in a civil penalty, which includes a $500 fine and six-month probationary period. If a second offense occurs within the six-month probationary period, a civil penalty of $1,000 and nine-month probation are imposed, and their beer license is revoked for 30 days. If a third offense occurs within the probationary period, a civil penalty is $1,500 and the beer permit is revoked for a 60-90 day period.
When asked to summarize the events leading to the citations being issued, Lt. Chandler said, “They went in the store, brought the purchase to me in the car, and the person responsible for the sale was issued a citation into General Sessions Court for sale of alcohol to a minor.”
After hearing the report issued by the Dresden Police Department, the Beer Board voted unanimously to impose a $500 fine on these businesses and place them on probation for six months. The probationary period started on Thursday, January 7, 2021, and the fine must be paid within 30 days. The probationary period ends July 7, 2021.
Lt. Chandler stated he plans on completing additional alcohol compliance checks within this calendar year.
Billy Green of Sayle Oil Company asked, “Will we be receiving something from you about the penalty and where to send the payment?”
Branscum said she would mail him a copy of the minutes, an invoice stating the amount of the fine and terms of the penalty.
Chad Turnbow from Little General asked, “Is any consideration given for the amount of training we gave these employees to prevent them from doing what they did? I sent papers up to City Hall showing the training we gave the young lady, but she did it anyway.”
Youngblood replied, “She’s your employee and you’re ultimately responsible. It’s just lucky nobody got hurt.”
“Sayle Oil Company’s employees receive extensive training,” Green said. “When they violate the beer sales’ policy, it’s an automatic termination. I would hate to think somebody’s kid bought beer and had an accident on the way home.” Green stated he has only experienced an employee violating Sayle Oil’s beer sales policy on three occasions during the past 30 years he has worked for the company.