Back in the black

Published 10:30 am Thursday, March 31, 2016

PERRYTOWN – The North Carolina underage drinking prevention program used by law enforcement and educators had its start in Bertie County before going statewide.

This is just part of the renaissance the county’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) has undertaken in the last few years that’s helped make for safer alcohol consumption.

It’s also turned a nice tidy profit in the meantime.

At its monthly “on the road” meeting in Perrytown, the Bertie County Commissioners heard from several ABC Board members along with Director Miles Davis on some of the positive progress that’s been made.

“I’m proud to say that all the county’s ABC employees are from right here in Bertie County,” said board member James Pugh.

Pugh also informed the Commissioners that Davis has been appointed to the state ABC Board and the Legislative committee.

“We’ll be re-teaming with Bertie County Schools for our ‘Save-A-Life’ program on April 11 at 8:30 a.m. the high school,” said board member Clint Freeman. “All EMS, (Vidant Bertie) Hospital staff, and law enforcement are welcome to come.”

Demonstrations include the ‘Drunk-mobile’, which shows participants the dangerous, potentially fatal, hazards of driving while intoxicated.

“This is the ‘Control’ in ABC,” Freeman added. “If this program saves just one kid’s life then it’s well worth the money because it deters underage drinking.”

Davis pointed out that the county’s system has gone from $50,000 in the red, with the state about to take over the county’s ABC store, to turning a profit that all small ABC systems in the state look to as an example. He said the system isn’t just about selling alcohol.

“We teach people the hazards of underage drinking as well as texting while driving, which has become just as dangerous,” Davis said.

The director also stated that the ABC system in Bertie County paid $165,202 in taxes, and footed the bill for local law enforcement to attend ABC Enforcement classes.

“We’ve also repaired the roof and put in a new sign, painted the building, and updated our computer system,” Davis stated. “And we made sure all the vendors who did the work were from Bertie County and/or disadvantaged vendors; keeping Bertie County money in Bertie County.”

Davis also touted the county’s ABC newsletter which was part of the upgrades, all of which were done for $30,000.

“Even with all the upgrades and the money we’ve put towards education, your ABC Board isn’t here to ask for money,” Davis said with tongue-in-cheek. “We’re here to give you a check for $10,000; and we hope we can provide you with a check every year.”

Chairman John Trent complemented the ABC Board on the lack of complaints received from constituents.

Commissioners Tammy Lee and Stewart White spoke to the ABC Board’s intake of over $80,000 in the month of December 2015 alone.

“Using local vendors is also why we have one of the best employment records in this region,” said Commissioner Ronald “Ron” Wesson in his complement, because the painters used were the same one who applied the new coat of paint on the refurbished Bertie County Courthouse.

“You have a good team,” said Commissioner Ernestine Byrd Bazemore. “I hope when re-appointments come up in June that some members will re-apply.”