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.


‘A substantial increase in safety’

Here is another article that was published in this week’s Herald & Tribune, a weekly newspaper I contribute to in the Town of Jonesborough, TN. The renewal of traffic cameras was an agenda item during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen January meeting. Many residents who attended the meeting spoke in favor of the cameras. It was an interesting article to write.

Article published in the Dec. 17, 2013 Herald & Tribune

Town approves traffic cameras for five more years

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen has approved the renewal of a five-year agreement with Redflex Travel Systems, the company that operates Jonesborough’s traffic camera enforcement system.

“The result, what we feel like, has been a substantial increase in safety,” said Town Administrator Bob Browning of the decision reached during the board’s monthly meeting on Dec. 9.

The system was installed five years ago and, according to information supplied by Browning, the number of accidents has decreased since the cameras’ installation. While accidents throughout town have grown by 19.3 percent since 2008, the three signaled intersections with cameras have only seen an increase of 2.1 percent in accident rates during the same period.

The cameras were installed with photo enforcement signs at the intersections of Boone Street and 11E, Forest Drive and 11E, and Headtown Road and 11E. They will remain at those locations.

The renewal period will commence on Jan. 1, 2014, and run until Dec. 31, 2018. The town has the option of extending their renewal term for up to two additional consecutive and automatic three-year time periods following the 2018 expiration date.

At the meeting, many citizens spoke in favor of renewing the system, saying it left them feeling safer with the cameras intact.

Mayor Kelly Wolfe also commented. “The popularity of a camera system depends on where you live,” Wolfe said. “Folks who live outside of the town really don’t like the cameras.”

Browning said town staff looked at Jonesborough traffic flows during a transportation study five years ago. They reviewed where people were coming from and the volume of traffic through the town. From that study, the Tennessee Department of Transportation recommended the town review signal intersections for a traffic safety study.

It was during that time period that town officials began talking about traffic cameras because they found that in other locations, the installation appeared to decrease the number of accidents.

About 3,200 vehicles travel Boone Street and 11E each day through Jonesborough, Browning said, and that’s a tremendous amount of traffic.

“Anything we could do to reduce accidents and speeds was something that we felt like we needed to look at,” he said.

Browning attributes the increase of safety in the three intersections to citations given for speeding and running red lights.

If a motorist goes through one of the intersections with cameras installed at 56 mph or more, he or she receives a citation, he said.

Officers have also indicated that they can see people going closer to the speed limit while traveling through the photo-enforced intersections. The Redflex system has shown that 90 percent of people going through the intersections from Boone Street to Headtown Road are either going above the speed limit by 5 mph or less than the speed limit, Browning added.

“That’s a really good situation as far as safety is concerned,” he said.

A citation is issued if both sets of wheels of the vehicle are not behind the stop bar when the traffic light turns red and the motorist continues through the intersection.

To help prevent this from occurring, the yellow caution light is set at five seconds, the maximum length of time according to state law, providing motorist traveling at 45 mph with more than 300 feet to stop at the light.

“We felt that was important that we were providing everyone the opportunity to abide by traffic regulations,” Browning said.

While town officials maintain the camera system has shown to be highly accurate, Browning said if there is a discrepancy in terms of being able to see the license plate number or what happened in the intersection, the town errs on the driver’s side.

“The Town of Jonesborough ultimately determines if a citation is issued or not,” Browning explained. “Someone at the sergeant level or above reviews the videos and the potential citations.”

Wolfe encourages folks to be safe, smart and to slow down while driving and take a deep breath.

“Don’t endanger your life and those around you in the Town of Jonesborough,” he said.

Storytelling town

I am now working in the storytelling capital of the world, Jonesborough, Tenn. One of my assignements at the end of October was to write about a new afterschool class that is taking place, “Story to Performance.”

Jules is teaching the youngsters what a story is . . .

It was really cute to see the kids turn their interviews into plays that included all kinds of props from the classroom. It’s a great class, one which the kids all said they enjoyed.

Students Learning through story

Published in the Herald & Tribune Nov. 12, 2013

Students from the afterschool “Story to Performance” class at Jonesborough Elementary School are putting together a radio show that feature stories and music they have created.

They will perform the play for the community at the McKinney center at Booker T. Washington School later this month.

Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts Outreach Program Director Jules Corriere began working with six students, ages 6 to 12, in the new “Story to Performance” pilot class in September.

The class was made possible through a two-year, $17,000 youth endowment grant program from the East Tennessee Foundation in Knoxville.

Last year the grant money went towards training staff. This year, the afterschool program was implemented.

“The project that we are doing is in association with EPIC Revolutions, an anti bullying program,” Town Administrator Bob Browning said. “It’s a character building program.”

Leaders decided to use story as a basis to help enhance self-confidence and self-esteem in the children.

“Being a storytelling town, we are tuned into the fact that the use of story can be a great vehicle to engage kids in community building and relationship building,” Browning said.

“Story to Performance” is held once a week for an hour at Jonesborough Elementary School.

The class involves special guests on occasion from the local Storytelling Guild, as well as many hands-on opportunities for the kids to learn the knack of storytelling.

“What’s amazing is the growth I have seen in all of these kids and the empowerment they are feeling and exhibiting,” Corriere said.

During one class session late last month, the students shared the stories they learned through interviews they conducted with individuals older than them. They dis so using such methods as poetry, skits and pictures they created on story boards.

Rhett Carver, 10 and his sister Ella, 8, made their homework assignment come alive through a performance that told a story of their father when he was younger.

In order to enhance the story, Rhett took charge as the director.
“I like to direct,” Rhett said.

What started out as a simple production, eventually included props found around the classroom and sounds of drums created by the students banging on objects to enhance the overall message of the story.

“We are teaching the kids what a story is – the important elements, how to tell a story and how to turn it into a performance piece,” Corriere said.

It seems to be working.

Jasmine Speer, 12, said her love of storytelling has expanded over the years and her interest in becoming an actress has intensified.

“I think it’s fun,” she said of storytelling. “It’s interesting and expands my knowledge of the world.”

Aisling Hagan, 12, has taken her love of writing and put it to use to create a family newsletter.

Now, Hagan also has a 30-40 second bit on the radio show “A Night with the Yarn Exchange,” providing her with writing and editing experience.

The students’ own production, “Junior Yarnspinners,” will be in the format of a radio show featuring real stories with real people, comedy skits and music written by students.

They will perform it on Thursday, NOv. 21, from 7-7:30 p.m. at the McKinney cente.r The public is invited to attend.

“The show will engage other community members  of different ages,” Corriere said. “It has provided the kids with all kinds of help and guidance.”

Browning said the town has established a mechanism that will allow them to continue the program even after the grant money is used.

“I am hoping to have a lot more students and engage a lot more students for the spring semester,” Corriere said. “I’ve had direct talks with some of the counselors and vice principal to see what students would be encouraged with this, would benefit from it.”