On Monday, February 25, at the regular monthly meeting of the Grundy County Commission, motions were passed to establish a County Beer Board. County Mayor Lonnie Cleek nominated citizens from each commission district based on collaborative efforts of a year long process with the Grundy Safe Communities Coalition.
Last year the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office notified the County Clerks Office of violations of underage alcohol sales to minors in retail compliance checks that were conducted countywide, in which 15 out of 33 stores failed, selling beer to minors. During the notification process, it was discovered that the County Beer Board had dissolved over the past few years and policies were out dated. Other beer boards in the county were unclear of the process as well.
Meetings between the Coalition, County Mayors Office, and County Commission yielded the decision to reform the County Beer Board. During this time there were many questions about current beer board policies. The Coalitions’ recommendation was to follow guidelines set forth by the Tennessee Responsible Vendor Act of 2006. This act streamlines beer boards by standardizing fines and penalties of retail storeowners that have violated policy.
It also puts an emphasis on the store clerks’ responsibility and not just the storeowner, by training and certifying each clerk. The Coalition and the Sheriff’s Office have certified responsible beverage trainers for the County to accommodate retail storeowners. Four local stores have already trained and certified some of their clerks after last year’s retail compliance checks.
The Coalition hopes that the reformed County Beer Board will help set the bar and serve as a model for the other local beer boards in Grundy County. Currently Grundy County has five municipalities with individual beer boards run by city councils including Tracy City, Gruetli Laager, Palmer, Altamont and Monteagle.
Monteagle set the bar by adopting the Responsible Vendor Act back in 2011, and acted on its retail store violations according to the process. Palmer and Gruetli Laager also acted accordingly by fining stores with violations brought before their beer boards. The Coalition is working with these beer boards as well to adopt the Responsible Vendor Act.
The Grundy County Sheriff’s Office is committed to continue to do regular retail compliance checks countywide in an effort to reduce underage youth access to alcohol in retail stores.