Thorsby alcohol sales still 4-6 months away

Published 3:20 pm Thursday, June 3, 2010

By Scott Mims

Thorsby Mayor Dearl Hilyer estimates it will be four to six months before the first alcohol is sold in Thorsby.

Hilyer based his guess on how long it took Jemison to develop its ordinance, issue beer licenses and complete all necessary paperwork after the neighboring city went wet as the result of a special election in January.

Also, Thorsby has not done as much legwork as Jemison had, which means it could take longer for Tuesday’s vote to take effect.

“It’s kind of an unknown territory for us,” Hilyer said.

Thorsby finds itself in a unique spot, sandwiched between Chilton County’s two other wet municipalities, Clanton and Jemison. Unlike those two cities, Thorsby has no Interstate exit, which means alcohol revenue could have less of an impact in recruiting new business to the town.

Hilyer said he had been told by only one businessman that alcohol sales could affect his decision to open a restaurant in Thorsby. In all other situations, alcohol revenue was not even a factor, Hilyer said.

The mayor estimated alcohol revenue for Thorsby could reach $30,000 per year based on what existing businesses could bring in.

“That could be the absolute best we could do, in a perfect world,” he said.

Hilyer admitted he was surprised by the results of Tuesday’s vote, when 310 residents voted to go wet versus 208 who favored staying dry. The voter turnout was just more than 50 percent, he estimated.

“That’s probably as many as we had for the mayor’s election,” he said. “I think our people cared enough to show up and make their vote count.”

The town is currently seeking legal advice on the issue and may even use Jemison’s ordinance as a model, Hilyer said, adding that Jemison Assistant to the Mayor Shannon Welch and Police Chief Shane Fulmer have agreed to be resources to the town.

“I know we’ll do our part,” Hilyer said. “We will set guidelines of what we expect being a wet town, and we’ll go from there.”