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County approves placing Sunday alcohol sales on General election ballot

The Gilchrist County Commission once again heard from Tom Sturgeon of Ellie Ray’s RV Resort, request the County to place Sunday Alcohol Sales on the General Election ballot in November. Mark Wray of Ginnie Springs, Stoney Smith of Hudson Foods and several convenience store owners operating in the unincorporated areas of Gilchrist County supported the business owner before the Commission. This group attended the Thursday meeting to ask for the County Commission to place Sunday alcohol sales on the General Election ballot and allow the people of Gilchrist County to decide if they wanted Sunday alcohol sales in the unincorporated areas of the county. At the present time the municipalities of Fanning Springs and Trenton allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays. Areas in the county outside these municipalities are not allowed to sell alcohol on Sunday.
Stoney Smith told the Commission that Nature Coast Tourism has become a booming business in North Central Florida and this draws people daily to Gilchrist County to enjoy the springs and rivers in rural Florida. He explained that the last time the Commission placed the referendum on the ballot, 8361 Gilchrist County residents supported Sunday alcohol sales. This fell short of the percentage needed to approve Sunday alcohol sales by less than 1%. “I believe that Gilchrist County is changing and the voters want alcohol sales on Sunday in the unincorporated areas of the county,” Mr Smith explained to the Commissioners.
Tom Sturgis presented a letter to the Commission from D. Ray Harrison, Jr. that explained he supported the idea that the Gilchrist County Commission should place the Sunday Alcohol Sales referendum on the upcoming General Election ballot.
“I feel like I’m being picked on Sturgis told the Commission. Here in Gilchrist County, Trenton has approved Sunday alcohol sales and in the rural areas where Ellie Ray’s R.V. Resort and Ginnie Springs are located, we are being discriminated against by not allowing us Sunday alcohol sales,” Sturgis explained.
Commissioner Martin explained that on Sunday when many people are preparing to leave these resort areas, I would hope that they would not be drinking while they are driving to their destination.
Commissioner Poitevint explained that people staying in these parks are going to be drinking on Sunday. People in my area in North Gilchrist County are weekenders and they want to be able to buy alcohol on Sunday, she added.
Commissioner Thomas pointed out that he felt Sunday alcohol sales was not necessary in Gilchrist County.
At this time, the sale of alcohol is not allow on Sunday in the Town of Bell.
Tom Sturgis told the board that if Gilchrist County doesn’t approve Sunday alcohol sales now, he will not give up, people coming to stay at our park want to buy alcohol on Sunday. I will continue to come back before this Commission every year until alcohol sales is approved on Sunday in Gilchrist County.
Commissioner Poitevint made a motion to approve the sale of alcohol on Sunday be placed on the General Election ballot in Gilchrist County this year. Chairman Gray waited for a moment to hear a second from a board member, as each of the Commissioners were silent, Todd Gray gave a second to the motion and then called for a roll call vote. The Commission voted 5-0 in favor of the motion to place the sale of alcohol on Sunday on the General Election ballot in November.
Attorney Lang explained that this would involve a referendum straw ballot and the final decision would be up to the Gilchrist County Commission to approve the sale of alcohol on Sunday in Gilchrist County.
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The Commission once again took a closer look at the rates for the public to use Hart Springs. Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby explained to the Commission that in a previous meeting the Board approved proposed rates for Hart Springs.
Donna Creamer, Gilchrist County Administrative Assistant, reported that two-thirds of the annual passes sold for Hart Springs Park were bought by guests that live outside of Gilchrist County.
Commissioner Langford made a motion for an Annual Pass to Hart Springs for five people would be $100, and that an additional person could be added for $25 for a total of $125 for seven days a week. Commissioner Poitevint gave a second to the motion before the board approved the motion by a unanimous vote.
Commissioner Thomas made a motion for Camping rates at Hart Springs to be $475. The Commission approved the motion by a unanimous vote.

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