Task force to study liquor store options in Jackson

Jackson County commissioners will appoint a task force soon to study whether — and if so where — the county should open its own liquor stores.

When voters overwhelmingly approved a countywide alcohol measure in May, it opened the door for the possibility of county-run liquor stores. Currently, the only liquor store in Jackson County is run by the town of Sylva.

Commissioners last month talked about creating a Jackson County ABC board to study the issue. But that could be putting the cart before the horse.

Simply appointing a task force rather than creating a full-fledged ABC board would be a better route for now, County Manager Chuck Wooten told commissioners this week.

Under state statute, each ABC board members make $150 a meeting. So a bona fide ABC board would be more expensive than a task force.

But County Attorney Jay Coward also cautioned commissioners that a bona fide ABC board would then own the decision making process over new liquor stores rather than the decision resting with commissioners themselves.

“It may function in a way you don’t want it to function once you set it up. It has a life of its own,” Coward said. “They could decide to establish a store and start selling booze.”

That got commissioners attention.

“We need a committee then,” Commissioner Chairman Jack Debnam said.

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