Dragway denied liquor license

Published 7:01 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell
Patrons of the Atmore Dragway will not be allowed to consume alcoholic beverages at the establishment any time soon.
The Escambia County Commission denied a liquor license application for the drag way. The commission voted unanimously to deny the application during their Monday meeting. Sheriff Grover Smith made known his opposition to the request because of the lack of resources to control the crowd and problems that are associated with drinking alcohol.
"We can't be responsible for public safety based largely on the crowds that the dragway has had in the past," Smith said. "The department is not big enough to handle those large crowds. I am opposed to alcohol and believe that it can't improve any gathering."
Smith said that the license was denied also because of the traffic and noise problems the drag way already causes.
"There is already a tremendous problem with the flow of traffic out there," Smith said. "People who live out there already have to tolerate the loud music and large crowds, it is not fair to them. They block the roads, people who live out there can't even get home because of the crowds."
It is apparent that Smith is not going to back down any time soon, either.
"I'm opposed until they (Atmore Dragway) can provide security and officers," Smith said. "It is not fair to taxpayers to foot the bill for the officers out there."
In other news:
A resident from the Pea Ridge Road area addressed county commissioners Monday to voice concerns about the condition of the road.
"From the college to U.S. Highway 41 is in bad shape through our community," said Pearl Stallworth, a resident of the area in question. "There is a real problem along the road. The road needs striping badly. I don't know where the money comes from to do that, but it is really needed."
Bill Bridges, county engineer, explained the process used in determining service for roadways.
"We have to do paving, striping and shoulder work along roadways based on need," Bridges said. "It is based on traffic count and we have to spread out what money we have to do the best we can. I can assure you that we will do the best we can when money is available for any roadway in our county."
Stallworth said she would accept the explanation for now, but hoped to see the county working in the area soon.
Commissioners took an opportunity to speak on a problem concerning Woods Road in the western portion of Escambia County between Atmore and Poarch.
Don Ellestad Jr., owner and operator of Viking Industries located on Woods Road, was also present at the meeting to discuss travel of heavy equipment on the road.
Ellestad had previously discussed the poor conditions of the road that commissioners say has been damaged by equipment used by Viking Industries that travels the route on a daily basis.
"I was told before that Viking would have to pay for repaving the road," Ellestad said. "I believe since I am paying more than $80 a day in mineral severance taxes to the county that I am paying for repaving the road."
Commissioner Wiley Tait, who represents the district in which the company and Woods Road are located, has many concerns about the condition of the road.
"My concern is for the constituents that I represent in that district," Tait said. "I have a concern for the U.S. Postal Service who must go down that road daily. We shouldn't have to invest money into a road that we shouldn't have to repave under normal conditions."
Ellestad said that he is willing to perform a portion of the work needed to bring the road back into proper condition.
"I am willing to do the base work at my cost," Ellestad said. "Then the county would only have to pay for the asphalt."
Ellestad estimated the total cost for paving the Woods Road area in question would run just over $200,000, money the county is not willing to pay.
"I need to run my business," Ellestad said. "I want to keep the neighbors happy. I've never had any trouble with any permits or anything. I don't have that kind of money laying around that would let me do the paving."
Bridges said the county didn't have that kind of money either.
"The county doesn't have the money sitting around to pave that road," Bridges said. "We don't want to put you out of business, but we can't have the kinds of loads your business has traveling on that road and continuing to do damage."
Ellestad said he had contacted some landowners in the area and has not been able to get the cooperation he needs to secure an alternate route.
"We will work with Ellestad to find an alternative route," Bridges said. "I will make calls and speak to those landowners on his behalf. We have to make some kind of change on this road."
Ellestad said he would be willing to consider any avenue possible to solve the problem and will work to make the road better.
"We will do our best to work with you on this problem." Bridges said the county would be posting a sign announcing the weight restriction on Woods Road and will make it effective beginning March 1.
"Hopefully, by that time we will have come up with a solution," Bridges said.
In other business the commission:
(Adrienne McKenzie contributed to this article.)

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