Just say no

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 25, 2008

RC News-Herald Editorial

The Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center Bar and Grill….a catchy, although wordy, name for that beautiful facility now springing to life north of Jackson.

While a tongue-in-cheek notion, the Bar and Grill portion of the title will never be added, but it may not be a far-fetched idea to see alcohol served at this county-owned facility.

Notwithstanding the wellness issue, one that doesn’t go hand-in-hand with alcohol consumption, we are opposed to alcoholic beverages allowed at a facility constructed, operated and maintained by public money.

As the Northampton County Board of Commissioners continue to debate an operational plan for the yet to be opened Cultural and Wellness Center, please keep this in mind….it isn’t a country club.

By all accounts, it appears at least two of the five Commissioners want a country club atmosphere at the Center. It also appears they want a club built on the backs of their bosses, the Northampton County taxpayers.

Prohibiting the use of alcohol at the facility, a recommendation of six powerful policy makers within the county, including a pair of Commissioners and the Sheriff, was part of the original operational plan presented to the Commissioners for their perusal during their Jan. 7 meeting. There, Commissioners Virginia Spruill and Fannie Greene voiced concerns as to why alcohol could not be permitted.

In all fairness, Spruill and Greene are not talking about a year-round open bar at the Center. Rather, they were concerned if prohibiting the use of alcohol would prove as a deterrent when renting the facility for wedding receptions, class reunions, fraternity/sorority functions and the like.

However, we believe it’s detrimental to the character of the good people of Northampton County to allow the consumption of alcoholic beverages at a public facility. The use of alcohol is currently prohibited in other county-owned and operated facilities. We have yet to see a bottle of wine uncorked or a mixed drink served in a school gymnasium, a courtroom or DSS meeting room.

The Commissioners can’t seem to reach a consensus on this issue. They have sent the operational plan back to the committee, one calling for an alternate plan to be developed that permits the use of alcohol at the Center. That new plan may call for a Northampton deputy and Center staff member to man the facility during events where alcohol is served. Who will pay for that…..the taxpayers, of course.

There was also mention of those renting the facility and permitting alcohol use would have to obtain a $1 million liability insurance policy. That thought apparently did not please Mrs. Greene as she questioned the high cost of the policy in proportion with low income county residents. In saying that, does Mrs. Greene expect the county to pick-up the insurance tab….another unnecessary expense for a poor, rural county.

Our suggestion is if someone is seeking all the amenities of a country club, then join one or rent those facilities for your pleasure.