LAKE HAMILTON -- Residents of Lake Hamilton will no longer need to leave town to buy a glass of beer or wine on Sunday afternoons.

During a special meeting Tuesday night, the Town Council approved on second reading an ordinance that will allow alcohol to be served between 1 and 10 p.m. Sundays. The vote was 4 to 1 with Councilman Emmett Wilkinson casting the dissenting vote.

The measure passed without comment from council members or residents.

The ordinance will take effect June 8.

I think that its appropriate, said Tom Matthews, owner of the Gift Mill Grill who first approached the council April 24 about allowing the Sunday sale alcohol.
Matthews didnt hear about the final approval of Sunday alcohol sales until Wednesday morning.

Im appreciative. During the (winter) season it should help business, he said Wednesday.

Matthews told the council in April that he was losing Sunday afternoon business to restaurants in nearby cities that allowed the sale of alcohol.

I come to you out of need, not desire, Matthews told the council.

Though Mayor Marlene Wagner, Wilkinson, and then Councilwoman Jacque Henderson expressed their disapproval of drinking, only Wilkinson voted against the change.

Councilwoman Kathi Latimer and Councilman Richard Swanson have said they believe the time has come for the change. They believe it is a way to support businesses like The Gift Mill and Smiths Grocery that have been mainstays in the town for years.

The ordinance change was passed on first reading after several residents spoke against it during the May 1 council meeting.

Resident Howard Cone said on May 1 that if the ordinance passed and the Gift Mill Grill began selling alcohol on Sunday, the restaurant would lose business and his family would be among the customers it lost.

But Matthews said most of his customers have been supportive and have frequently asked about the status of the ordinance change.

Id be disappointed if any groups wanted to boycott any business that represented the town in a positive way, Matthews said.

He has taken into consideration that not all folks wish to take advantage of the new availability of wine and beer at his restaurant on Sunday.

Ive been thinking about designating a private dining room for those not wishing to have alcohol served around them, Matthews said.

Donna Kelly can be reached at donna.kelly@directgates.com or 863-401-6969.