Politics & Government

Macon-Bibb commission approves alcohol sales at movie theater

After a long battle, Macon’s only movie theater will now be able to serve alcohol.

After previously denying the request, the Macon-Bibb County Commission on Tuesday approved a beer and wine license for AmStar 16 on Zebulon Road.

The vote was 7-2, with Commissioners Elaine Lucas and Bert Bivins opposing. Three commissioners who had previously opposed switched sides, saying they recognized the county did not have the legal standing to deny it.

“To continue to vote no for this would be like swimming upstream, a very strong and flooded upstream, because in the end, we will lose,” said Commissioner Valerie Wynn. “It is not worth it to fight it.”

She said litigation would cost an estimated $100,000.

Commissioners Joe Allen and Mallory Jones, who had also previously opposed alcohol sales, switched sides, citing similar reasons.

Lucas said she was voting against it because the majority of constituents who contacted her about it were against it.

Several AmStar employees and others spoke in favor of it before the vote. Some said 16 other theaters in the company sell alcohol and there have been no problems.

Trey Ivester, manager of the theater, said after the meeting that he wasn’t sure when they might actually start selling alcohol.

AmStar had appealed the commission’s earlier denial.

Opponents had previously cited concerns about selling alcohol where children are present. But others and the movie theater had pointed out there are other establishments in the city that cater to families that also sell alcohol.

Commission overrides bonus veto

Also Tuesday the commission voted 8-1 to override Mayor Robert Reichert’s veto of a one-time $1,000 bonus for each county employee. Commissioner Scotty Shepherd, who voted by phone, cast the only vote against the override.

Reichert began by saying he vetoed the measure primarily because the estimated $2.3 million expense was not in the fiscal-year budget. He also said he thought it would ultimately hurt the chances of giving employees a permanent raise.

But other commissioners rejected that argument.

In public comments, Macon-Bibb firefighter Gavin Flanders urged the board to override the veto. He said the bonus does not replace a raise but is a good start.

“It is a good-faith gesture to say we recognize the problem, stick with us,” Flanders said.

Wayne Crenshaw has worked as a journalist since 1990 and has been a reporter for The Telegraph since 2002. He holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Georgia College and is a resident of Warner Robins.