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Council president concerned about liquor at Athens VFW

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — The Athens City Council president is concerned about people mixing beer and bingo and having parties at the VFW if the city gives the organization an alcohol license.

"I know you play bingo out there, and if I were playing bingo I would probably be drinking," Council President Harold Wales said Monday during a public hearing. "I'm concerned about that going on in a neighborhood."

Wales said the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on Alabama 127 is in a residential area, and he's concerned about people drinking and then getting on the major highway. Wales said he's also concerned about parties, and then referred to an incident at the American Legion that led to the shooting of an Athens police sergeant.

Sgt. Brett Constable recovered from that July 2005 shooting, and his shooter was found guilty. Constable was shot when he responded to a shots-fired call at the American Legion. Someone had rented the facility for a party and served alcohol.

Roy Coulter, secretary/treasurer for the VFW, said the organization does not rent out its facility and it would serve alcohol only to members or guests of members.

He said the VFW only wants to serve beer, not hard liquor.

"Triana's bingo took over, and we're not making money like we were, and this will give us another way to make money," Coulter said.

Triana's VFW in Madison County offered electronic bingo until a lawsuit erupted claiming the games were illegal gambling.

"We haven't gotten those customers back, though," Coulter said.

Wales said Coulter "gave me something to think about." The request for an alcohol license now will go before the Alcohol Review Committee and back to the council for approval.

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