The chance of the Vernon Parish Police Jury asking voters to consider changing the parish’s Sunday closing law appear to be slim and none.
William Mayo, who operates Last Call bar on Kurthwood Road, appeared at the jury’s agenda-setting meeting Monday evening to seek a one-time exemption to the closing law for this New Year’s Eve, which falls on a Sunday.
Seeming to sense that was going nowhere fast, he changed his approach, asking for the whole loaf instead of a half.
“They are going to drink somewhere. I would just like to have the opportunity for them to drink at my place of business for that one day,” he told jurors when asking for the Dec. 31 exception.
Parish ordinance prohibits the sale of alcohol on Sunday. Mayo pointed out that those Vernon residents who want to buy liquor, beer or wine on Sunday can do so in Leesville and some other municipalities, but not in his locale.
“This is out of date and out of touch.” he said.
Jury President Jim Tuck told Mayo he doubted there was enough support for such an exemption among the jurors, a sentiment quickly affirmed by nodding heads.
He also pointed out that allowing one-time Sunday opening would not be permissible under the parish ordinance, that a new ordinance would have to be proposed and then approved in an election. He pointed out the obvious — there is not enough time for that to happen.
“But I don’t think the jury would support such a proposal. The jury tries to listen to what their constituents want, and they don’t want this,” he said.
Mayo then switched objectives, asking what it would take to change the law and allow Sunday sales year-round. He expressed a willingness to return at the next jury meeting and make a case for that.
Several jurors in effect suggested he not waste his time.
Juror Kenny Haymon put it succinctly: “No one here is going to bring it up.”
He expanded in a prepared statement a short while later:
"I am against Sunday alcohol sales and also against amending our ordinance to allow a special provision to allow bars to open on New Year's Eve. It's my personal conviction and also feel like it represents the feelings of the majority of the residents in District 12 and Vernon Parish.
“Mr. Mayo was aware that his establishment was outside the city limits and was also aware of the parish ordinance when he signed his name to the dotted line to purchase the property. This issue has been brought up in the past and this Police Jury has made it clear we are not in favor of changing the current ordinance. In addition, this establishment is in a residential area and not your typical nightclub neighborhood setting.”
In a special meeting preceding the agenda session, the jury passed a resolution declaring Water and Sewer Commission No. 1’s intent to issue taxable revenue bonds not to exceed $2,575,000.
The purpose is to finance costs of constructing and acquiring additions, extensions and improvements to the drinking water system of the district, which is in Ward 4. The project includes a new well on Wilson Loop.
Jurors also awarded to Diamond B Construction the Brushy Creek Road Project in District 2. A bridge and raised road bed is included. Financing is through a $769,000 FEMA grant in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita a dozen years ago.