BMA moves ahead to allow beer sampling

BMA moves ahead to allow beer sampling

Published in Herald & Tribune Feb. 18, 2015 issue

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the first reading of a beer ordinance amendment that, if approved on the final reading, will allow customers to sample draft craft beers before purchasing from a convenience store or market.

The ordinance, Town Administrator Bob Browning said, will allow anyone selling draft craft beers the opportunity to obtain a permit.

The ordinance requires a $100 nonrefundable application fee for the off-premise retail sale beer permit, as well as an annual privilege tax of $100 to renew the permit.

According to the ordinance, the samples can be no more than 2 ounces in no more than a 5-ounce cup.

Only three 2-ounce samples can be provided during a 24-hour period from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

The ordinance also states that every customer will have to provide a photo ID to ensure he or she is 21 years old.

The customer’s name, according to the ID, will then be entered into a sampling log that will show the day and time the sample was provided to that person.

All samples are to be consumed on premise and the server providing the samples must have an Alcoholic Beverage Commission server’s license.

The ordinance also states that the Jonesborough Police Department will review the sampling procedure before the convenience store or market begins offering samples.

Town Attorney Jim Wheeler said a few changes needed to be made before the second reading of the amendment.

He said the term “craft beer” needs to be defined, as well as “convenience store” and “market.”

Wheeler said the ordinance also needs to make clear that only three 2-ounce samples can be given to an individual within a 24-hour period.

He also said it must clearly state that it is mandatory that an ABC server must serve all the samples.

“We need to remember that any time we change a beer ordinance, we are asking our police department to enforce that,” Wheeler said.

“So, it has to be very specific and can’t leave it open to subject to interpretation.”

Mayor Kelly Wolfe said an amendment to the beer ordinance is under consideration because of a request that was brought forth by Roadrunner Markets.

“They have inside this structure a Chuggernaut where you can actually buy craft beers in a growler,” he said.

Growlers are large glass jugs traditionally used to transport beer.

“Quite honestly, I can see the value of that because it is hard to say I like something and why spend the money on it if you don’t know how it tastes and you never had it before,” Wolfe said.

Although the first reading passed with a 3-1 vote during the Monday, Feb. 9, meeting, areas of concern were voiced by the aldermen.

“I’ve been giving some thought about this,” Alderman Adam Dickson said.

“I think I feel fairly confident about my decision. I choose to vote against this.”

He said he has the utmost respect for Ryan Broyles, president and CEO of Mountain Empire Oil Company.

“I hope that my vote won’t be taken out of context,” Dickson said. “I really have some concerns in particular about the fact that this is a place where I frequent fairly regularly at the Roadrunner and I do see a lot of children coming in and out. I value the feelings of our chief and I know that the staff at Mountain Empire Oil and the Roadrunner store will do an excellent job and will abide by the rules. I just have some personal concerns.”

Wolfe told Dickson he understood where he was coming from, but right now Jonesborough’s liquor stores have the options of doing tastings.

“We have Depot Street Brewery (who) obviously has a license as a manufacturer in town and a license to allow them to have samples there. Currently, beer is sold in every convenience store just about in Jonesborough, if not all of them. Really, the only difference would be that sampling option,” Wolfe said. “Right now that beer at the Chuggernaut is on tap. They are actively filling those growlers right there. I have purchased a couple of them. It is a nice option and it is a matter of personal preference.”

He said if there is abuse, there are ramifications.

“I think we have a track record of mixed drinks being served in town now very successfully,” Wolfe said. “You are seeing people in Jonesborough take time in doing it right.”

Operations Manager Craig Ford said he can talk with the City of Greeneville’s Police Department and see if they have had any issues with beer samples since implementing their ordinance.

Browning said any of the restaurants that have liquor by the drink can provide samples to their customers if they choose. He said when Tennessee Hills Distillery becomes operational, you can have a family in there and have tastings.

“There is not an age limit to go into the distillery,” Browning said.

Alderman Terry Countermine said although he is a beer drinker, he is a little concerned about drawing 2 ounces of draft beer.

“The idea is that I am drinking it there to decide if I want to buy,” he asked. “I have concerns about the abuse of that.”

Wolfe said the idea is that an individual would be trying three different samples, rather than three of the same.

“One drink you should be able to say I like that one or not,” he said.

Discussion was also had about what the blood alcohol concentration would be after consumption.

Police Chief Matt Hawkins said although many factors, such as muscle mass and body weight, can sway the number drastically in either way, generally the blood alcohol level is at .05 after two 12-ounce beers.


“Thank you”

Fire Chief presents heartfelt thank you

Published in Herald & Tribune Feb. 18, 2015 issue

Jonesborough Fire Chief Phil Fritts believes two simple, yet powerful words — “thank you” — are all that is left to be shared after the community rallied behind one of Jonesborough’s sergeants who lost his battle to cancer last month.

“I knew that this community was special and the people were good, kind people,” Fritts said. “They are good honest, decent hardworking people. I really didn’t realize the extent of their compassion and kindness, I guess you can say.”

Fritts was referring to the outpouring of community support that flooded in after word went out that Sgt. Nathan Luke Story had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“I remember when we first learned that Luke was suffering from pancreatic cancer and the word started spreading through the community,” Fritts said. “It was almost immediate. We started getting phone calls and we started having people pop up and come in.”

Assistance and money, as well as food the day of the funeral, was offered from countless community residents.

Although the support was endless, there are two instances that left a strong impact on Fritts.

The first occurred while he was at a restaurant. He said a couple that lives in the community called him over to their table and asked him to tell them about the young man who has pancreatic cancer.

“I sat down and told them,” Fritts said.

The gentleman looked at Fritts and his wife and said, “Will Luke need treatment?”

“It was at the time when we were looking at maybe going outside of the area for treatment,” Fritts said.

The gesture that came next astounded him.

“He looks at me and says ‘Would $5,000 help?” Fritts said. “I said $5,000 would be marvelous. He wrote me a check for $5,000 right there.”

Another act of kindness happened at the station. Fritts said he arrived at work one warm day when a lady walked into the open bay doors. After the woman shared who she was and that she heard about Story, she handed him a few dollar bills.

Fritts said the woman told him that was all she had and all she could afford, but felt she needed to offer some money.

“That is very touching,” he said.

The outpouring of support continued with T-shirt sales, benefits and donations from other fire departments around the area.

“It just amazed me at the kindness that people have,” Fritts said. “They really didn’t have any other reason to do that other than it was the right thing to do.”

The saying “we are a family” that administrative staff, employees and town board share at every Christmas dinner is a feeling that Fritts understands fully.

“They proved that we are a family. That means a lot. You can hear the words, but actions will speak a lot better than words,” he said, adding that Town Administrator Bob Browning and Operations Manager Craig Ford were just fantastic. “They were generally concerned and they wanted to help.”

Story attended the December Christmas party where he sat and ate with everyone else. Fritts said that night Story received the Employee of the Year.

“Right up to a couple weeks before he passed away he was up walking around and then all at once . . .,” Fritts said. “It was easy to get into (the idea) that he’s got time.”

On Jan. 24, at 3:45 p.m. Story passed away at Johnson City Medical Center.

The support from area fire departments and the Jonesborough Police Department instantly began after the news was heard.

And when funeral plans were announced, Fritts said he began receiving phone calls from area fire departments asking what they needed.

The Limestone Volunteer Fire Department, EMS and Johnson City Fire Department all provided honor guards. Fritts said the fire chief from Greeneville offered to man their station during the procession and funeral.

“I don’t have anything really to say, but thank you. We felt like we did need to say something to people and let them know we saw you and we thank you,” Fritts said. “I want the community to know that we always do strive to do the best and we go the extra mile to help you and this department will continue to help them.”


‘Connection with People’

I enjoyed this interview with Major Matt Rice of the Jonesborough Police Department. At the beginning of the interview, he warned me he wasn’t one that liked to talk about himself, much less do an interview. But, by the end of our conversation, he told me I was able to get quite a bit of information from him, something that typically doesn’t happen often. So on that note, enjoy reading about the Town of Jonesborough’s Employee of the Year.

Article published in the Herald & Tribune Dec. 31, 2013 issue

Town selects major as employee of year

Jonesborough Police Department Maj. Matt Rice was named Employee of the Year for the Town of Jonesborough in a recent ceremony during the town’s holiday employee-appreciation luncheon.

Town Administrator Bob Browning said Rice is one of those people who really cares about what he does, and he cares for the Town of Jonesborough.

“Matt is a great choice,” he said. “We have a great police department, and Matt is one of those people that makes it great.”

The award came as a surprise for Rice.

“There are a lot of people in this town that deserve to be recognized,” he said. “There are a lot of other people out there.”

That is what makes the town special, Rice said. Employees work hard every day for the community.

“Everyone who works in this town is a dedicated employee,” Rice added

Rice, who moved from western North Carolina to the area his sophomore year of high school, started in law enforcement in 1998.

“I had a deep-seated desire to help people, and it kind of went from there,” he said.

Rice began as a deputy jailer for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and worked as a patrol officer before leaving the WCSO in 1993. He then accepted a position with the First Judicial Drug Task Force, working there until 1998.

His career continued at the Unicoi County Police Department as a criminal investigator where he also did some drug work.

“There are not a lot of areas in law enforcement that I haven’t been involved in,” Rice said.

In 2004, he became the major for the Jonesborough Police Department. He oversees operations and has four patrol sergeants who report to him.

He also handles criminal investigations and helps plan and implement special events logistics throughout the year for the town.

“I love the job,” Rice said. “I love working for the Town of Jonesborough. I love the community and the people here. There are some good people in this community.”

The team atmosphere and small-department feel is something he enjoys about working for the Jonesborough Police Department.

With the department consisting of only 17 sworn officers, “everyone has to help out in various positions,” Rice said.

With any job there is both good and bad, he added.

The good comes, Rice said, when he has the ability to help people from time to time, to have “that one chance that you get to have a positive effect on someone.”

Such an opportunity came earlier this year when Rice had a chance to save a man’s life.

A dispatched call went out while Rice was in the vicinity. Although he did not know if police officers were nearby, he grabbed an automated external defibrillator and went to the location for the “cardiac arrest, man down” call.

Rice said when he arrived at the location, the gentleman did not have a pulse or respiration.

“I hooked him up and began CPR on him,” he said.

Two other patrol officers arrived and helped Rice administer CPR.

Rice said they had a good outcome that day, which is one of the perks of the job.

The lifetime accomplishments and personal satisfactions are what Rice takes away from the job on a daily basis.

Sometimes it’s as simple as changing a flat tire at 2 a.m. for someone, or putting a little bit of gas in a car that gives him that satisfaction.

Over the years, “the connection with people,” Rice said, is what makes the job so rewarding.

‘You Always Have a Partner’

The Jonesborough Police Department recently purchased its second K-9, an 18-month Chocolate Lab. The dog is beautiful and full of life. I always find it interesting to interview K-9 officers and see what the dog is capable of doing. The amount of training that goes into preparing a dog for its certification is pretty intense. With that said, I enjoyed writing this article for the Herald & Tribune.

Article published in the Dec. 10, 2013 Herald & Tribune issue

New K-9 joins police department

Loki, an 18-month Chocolate Lab, reported to his first 12-hour shift with the Jonesborough Police Department  on Dec. 6.

“He’s full of life, energetic and always ready to work,” said K-9 Officer Jamie Aistrop, Loki’s handler. “For praise, affection and a toy, they will do anything.”

K-9 Officer Jamie Aistrop and Loki.  Photo credit Charlie Mauk.

K-9 Officer Jamie Aistrop and Loki.
Photo credit Charlie Mauk.

The new partners began working together in the middle of October after the department purchased Loki from Shiloh K-9 in Stoneville, N.C.Police Chief Matthew Hawkins said the K-9 program is completely funded with seized funds and asset forfeitures. Loki, who was a part of the budget process in April and May, was about $7,800 to purchase for the police department. Hawkins said the benefits the K-9 brings to the department outweighs the cost.

“We have a good history here with the K-9 program,” he said, adding that the handlers have to have a real passion for working with the dogs.

Aistrop, who knew he wanted to become a police officer when he was 5-years-old, began working with the department full-time in March 2012 after being a reserve officer eight years prior. He became a K-9 officer in October when he began working with Loki.

Aistrop said of one of the reasons he wanted to become a K-9 officer was “you always have a partner with you.”

Before Aistrop took a four-week handler course for narcotics detection, training and tracking at the facility with Loki, another trainer worked with the dog for about a month.

“It was intense,” Aistrop said of the 10 to 12 hours spent training, which took place daily for a month.

The partners also had in-house training in Jonesborough.

Once the training was completed, Loki earned his Police and Professional Dog Association certification, as well as a national certification from the North American Police Work Dog Association. Loki will be recertified once a year.

“He flips a switch when it’s time to work,” Aistrop said. “He definitely knows the difference between work and play.”

Jonesborough Police Department K-9 Loki. Photo credit Charlie Mauk.

Jonesborough Police Department K-9 Loki.
Photo credit Charlie Mauk.

Throughout Loki’s training, Aistrop said, the dog worked for a toy as his reward. He was trained with such real narcotics as cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroine and ecstasy. Aistrop said the training first began by putting all five narcotics in a box before they were separated.Keeping narcotics off the streets has always been an interest of Aistrop’s and Loki’s hunt and prey drive is through the roof, he explained.

“That’s what you need in a narcotics dog,” Aistrop said. Loki is also trained in tracking through scent.

“If we need him to track, he can be used for children and elderly people that have wandered off,” Aistrop said, adding that Loki is trained not to bite once the individual is located.

Aistrop is required to spend a minimum of 16 hours a month training Loki, which includes narcotic training at the department, since he is trained with real narcotics. Now that the training is completed, Aistrop has begun working on obedience with Loki at his home.

“The obedience comes in now after training and certification is done,” he said.

They are together 24 hours a day seven days a week. Loki stays with Aistrop, his wife and two children, who are ages 5 and 3.

“They love him,” he said of his family. Loki is also fond of his family as well.

Aistrop said he and Loki will provide demonstrations for those who are interested. The community is also welcome to meet Loki by calling and setting up a time with the police department.

Loki is the second K-9 for the Jonesborough Police Department.

He joins Gregor, a Czech Shepherd, and his handler K-9 Officer Michael McPeak. Gregor specializes in narcotics and tracking.

Hawkins said the K-9’s service life spans from seven to 10 years. The police K-9’s trained in apprehension have a shorter service life span due to the intense training.