Booze By The Jug

By Dave Hudgens

So what's the big deal with booze by the jug? When the measure authorizing package liquor sales in Loudon County passed overwhelmingly Nov. 4, many of us naively thought that we'd have a liquor store in the Village before you could say "Wild Turkey."

Au contraire, mes amis, as the News Sentinel's Hugh Willett ably reported last week, citing a weird (my word) provision in the state liquor law that results in the City of Loudon being the only place in the county where a liquor store can operate. That's because (get this) it has fewer people than the least populous county in the state (Moore). Huh?

And because it has more people than Moore, Lenoir City had to have its own separate referendum, which failed by a narrow margin, leaving Loudon as the only horse in the race. Tellico Village isn't in because it isn't incorporated, even though Villagers by the hundreds signed the petitions to get the measure on the ballot, and the Village has more residents than the City of Loudon.

But all is not lost. Ed Bell, who has been promoting the package liquor sales issue for the past four years, predicts that the Loudon City Council will approve liquor sales in the city, probably at its meeting in January. By law, the council has the authority then to say how many stores there will be and who will own them.

Bell and his partners hope to be granted one of the licenses, and he says he would like to locate the store on Highway 72 near the existing Food City supermarket.

Bell has strong ties to Tellico Village, beginning early on when his bank had a pioneering relationship with Cooper Communities to help finance early buyers. In 1991 he started First Central Bank, which he sold in 2002 to United Community Bank, which exists today in the Village Square Shopping Center.

"If I'm fortunate enough to get a liquor store, I'm going to send everybody in Tellico Village a discount card," said Bell.

Way to go, Ed. Beats driving 40 miles round trip to buy a jug.
Tellico Village resident Dave Hudgens is a retired public relations executive and freelance writer, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Tellico Village Property Owners Association.