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Convenience store liquor sales approved

Council votes 5-3 in favor of ordinance

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013 4:14 p.m. CDT

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ROCK FALLS – In 10 days, some convenience stores in Rock Falls can start applying for a liquor license.

By a 5-3 vote, Rock Falls City Council Tuesday night approved an ordinance allowing convenience stores to sell beer and wine.

Aldermen Dave Hand, Glen Kuhlemier and Lee Folsom voted no.

“I feel that it gives more chances for minors to purchase alcohol,” Hand said. “I like the tighter control that we have now on it.”

The Class 4 liquor license allows convenience stores, including gas stations, to sell beer and wine in its original package for consumption off the premises.

Kathy Peugh is a supervisor with Johnson Oil Co., of Rock Falls, which owns gas stations in Rock Falls, Sterling, Dixon, Polo, Amboy and Morrison.

Rock Falls is the last of those municipalities to allow alcohol to be sold in convenience stores, she said.

“It is a nice added attraction,” Peugh said. “It’s extra sales tax for the city.”

When customers go to a convenience store to buy beer or wine, they might also purchase other items, which increases sales tax revenue for the city, Mayor Bill Wescott said.

“I don’t foresee any problems with it,” he said. “Like we have said numerous times, everywhere else, in a three-county area, does it – has been doing it for years. We’re kind of the last one.”

The reason Rock Falls hasn’t allowed the sale of beer and wine in convenience stores in the past was because of a concern that it would make drinking and driving or underage drinking more prevalent, Wescott said.

Casey’s General Store has two Rock Falls locations, and being able to sell beer and wine in those stores would add a convenience for its customers, said Brian Johnson, the company’s vice president of finance.

It would be extra revenue, but wouldn’t likely be a top-selling product, he added.

Casey’s most profitable products are its prepared food, with gas and cigarettes being the top selling, Johnson said.

“If it goes in, something needs to come out,” he said. “For us, it needs to sell enough to justify the space in the store. And I’m sure it will. It’s a pretty common product to sell in convenience stores.”

During a closed session, the City Council approved the contracts for the new fire chief and deputy fire chief under the Twin City Joint Fire Command, which will be effective Sept. 28.

Gary Cook, Rock Falls’ current deputy fire chief, will take over as fire chief and make $90,000 per year, 61 percent of which will be covered by Sterling. Capt. Bill Milby will serve as Rock Falls’ deputy fire chief and make $68,000 per year.

The City Council also approved two ordinances relating to hay baling and prairie grass.

One of the ordinances allows some residents to apply for a permit to grow grass to be baled. Permits will be issued for 2 years and cost $40.

The other ordinance allows some residents to get a permit to develop prairie grass plots within the city limits.

The ordinances will allow the city to save money by reducing the hours staff spends mowing various fields on city property.

To attend

The Rock Falls City Council next meets at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1, at City Hall, 603 W. 10th St. 

The agendas will be posted at www.rockfalls61071.com and at City Hall. Call 815-622-1100 for more information.

The City Council meeting also can be viewed live on Channel 5.

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