In a two to four vote at their last meeting, Bethel City Council decided to move forward on an ordinance to end hard liquor sales in the city. The ordinance would exclude liquor orders by freight.
Sponsor Leif Albertson told his fellow council members that he was prompted to bring the ordinance up as a possible way for the city to proceed on alcohol related issues by what people in the community have said to him over the past couple of years.
“We have, I think, probably all of us gotten an ear full about the alcohol situation in Bethel,” said Albertson. “There’s been some problems with that. We’re looking at a local option vote on the horizon, and I think this is an option that might be a compromise.”
Albertson said that the city's problem is driven by cheap hard liquor. While some council members agreed to have a discussion at the next meeting on implementation, they’re also eager for public feedback on the idea. The opposing votes came from Mayor Richard Robb and council member Raymond “Thor” Williams. Williams suggested that this move would just drive people back to bootlegging, both in Bethel and in the surrounding region.
“I’m not in support of this introduction because it says back to the community that the city of Bethel is for bootlegging again,” Williams said. “That’s all this is going to do because the majority of people that drink in our community drink hard alcohol. The reason that we went wet was to deal with bootlegging.”
As written, should the ordinance pass, vendors sending hard alcohol in by freight would be required to track those sales and make that data available to state and local authorities. Discussion will continue, with a public hearing at the next Council meeting on May 22.