Store owner, sheriff battle over legality of beer sales

Garry Waldo’s Richmond Country Market is under fire to stop selling beer because it’s alleged to be too close to two churches.
A county ordinance prohibits the sale of beer within 600 feet of a church.
Perhaps a hearing Monday in Lee County court will resolve the controversy. That’s when Sheriff Jim Johnson will ask that Waldo’s beer license be revoked.
The market is near Richmond Baptist Church and a Pentecostal church across Highway 371 South, Johnson says.
Meanwhile, Waldo has asked Lee County’s Chancery Court to sort it out.
In Feb. 23 complaint, he asked the court to determine the validity of the ordinance, as it applies to his business, and how the distance was measured.
Without the court’s assistance, Waldo “will suffer immediate irreparable and substantial harm” financially, said the document written by his then-attorney, Angela Jones of Tupelo. He’s now represented by Ed Priest.
Waldo, the market’s owner, received a permit to sell beer effective Feb. 4-Sept. 1, 2009. Soon after, a sheriff’s deputy told him he was violating a county ordinance because of the church-proximity problem with beer sales.
The sheriff says Waldo was presented a copy of the ordinance and asked to correct the situation. Apparently, he didn’t.
“I don’t have the authority to pull his license,” Johnson said Friday, noting his office continues to get complaints about the beer sales.
He says people think he isn’t doing anything.
Not true, the sheriff insists.
But there’s a process to be followed, and after the Monday hearing, the judge may decide to give Johnson the authority to shut down the beer sales.
Meanwhile, Waldo’s Chancery Court petitions asks to stop the sheriff from exercising his authority and to determine how the distance was calculated from his store to the churches.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or

Patsy R. Brumfield/Daily Journal

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