Commissioners reject “no distance rules” resolution for beer sales

Posted By | January 30, 2017 6:27 am

Last Updated: January 30, 2017 at 6:29 am

Updated Jan. 30, 2017

A resolution to adopt the Tennessee alcohol distance requirement laws and rules for local beer sales was rejected by White County commissioners during their monthly meeting, on Jan. 23, 2017.

With 13 of the 14 county commissioners present, the resolution failed to pass.

A previous resolution that was passed many years ago designated the distance rules for the sale of beer in the county. White County has since approved, by referendum, liquor by the drink and package store sales, which, according to the proposed resolution, are governed and controlled by the state and prohibit any distance rules.

The proposed resolution sought to standardize the requirements on all alcohol sales, therefore creating “fair and uniform rules for all businesses.”

The aim of the resolution was to mirror the State of Tennessee’s laws for liquor and wine sales.

According to Terry Alley, White County Commission chairman, although the resolution failed the pass at this meeting, White County Beer Board members can present the resolution to commissioners again at a future meeting.

Commissioners voting in favor of the resolution included Bruce Frasier, Diana Haston, Mack Johnson, Harold England, Dale Bennett and Al Klee. Those voting “no” were Stanley Neal, Karen Lafever, Stephen Luna, Russell Gooch, Cain Rogers and Terry Alley. Bruce Null “passed” because he owns a business that could potentially benefit from the passage of the resolution. Matt McBride was absent.

In other business, Gary Bagwell, representing Harley Owners Group, addressed county commissioners.

Bagwell, who serves as state coordinator for Harley Davidson Motor Co., asked the county to once again be involved in hosting events for the H.O.G. Rally, which will be based in Cookeville, July 11-15, 2017.

Bagwell has been producing motorcycle events for the Harley Davidson Motor Co. for almost 20 years.

“The motor company came to me and asked me if I would put this event together this year,” said Bagwell.

Bagwell talked about the H.O.G. rallies held in 2012, 2014 and 2015, in Cookeville.

“In 2016, start H.O.G. rallies went away – it was the last year of Harley Owners Group of rallies in the U.S.,” said   Bagwell.

Bagwell said the demographic is shifting. The company went from a national model of 47 events, in 2016, to 16 regional events for 2017.

“We [Cookeville area] were awarded, among a quite   extensive group of other locations, this event for 2017,” said Bagwell. “This year is a regional event, not a state event.”

Bagwell proceeded to explain what this would mean to the Upper Cumberland, specifically White County.

“In 2015, we had 2,700 attendees, from 37 states and four foreign countries,” he said.

Bagwell said the Upper Cumberland provides the only five-day H.O.G. rally in the United States.

“What does five days mean in significance with me standing in front of you right now?” asked Bagwell. “These people come in town to do two things: they’re here on vacation – they want to have fun, and they want to spend money.”

Bagwell said the average spending for the group is about $300 per day per person.

According to Bagwell, during the 2015 H.O.G Rally, in   Cookeville, the impact of revenue totaled approximately $3.5 million to $4 million. He said people would arrive two to three days earlier than the start date for the event, which added even more to the coffers.

“In 2017, we have no other competition with surrounding states,” said Bagwell. “We are the only regional rally, from Penscacola to Roanoke, Virginia. The interest in this event has been 10-fold as to what we’ve had for state H.O.G. rallies.”

Bagwell said corporate officials asked him if Cookeville could handle 5,000 attendees for the regional rally.

He said the rally attendees would occupy approximately 1,550 hotels rooms, and White County is only a 30-minute drive from Cookeville.

In 2012, 2014 and 2015, the rallies were the largest revenue-producing event in the Upper Cumberland in those three years, according to Bagwell.

“I always prefer to tell you who we are instead of who we are not,” said Bagwell, as he described Harley riders. “We are professionals, hard-working people, in every demographic.

“We are a family-oriented event. What you guys did at the fairgrounds in 2015 – they’re still talking about it today. The giveaways, the hospitality, all the hosting. These people are arriving in town ready to make memories, and you all made a memory for them in White County, in 2015.”

Bagwell said the recidivism revenue from the event is also “phenomenal.” He added that moto-tourism is   becoming another huge source of revenue for communities, as large national car clubs are searching for locations to host their own gatherings.

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