Alcohol sales may come to Cullowhee if referendum passes

Pending a vote in primary elections, alcohol sales could be coming to Cullowhee.

In recent discussions by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, the board has decided to include an alcohol referendum on May’s ballot. If passed, this would allow businesses in Cullowhee at WCU to serve beer, wine and/or mixed drinks.

According to media reports, County Attorney Jay Coward spent a lot of time during the August 15 commissioners meeting discussing how Jackson County would proceed if officials chose to put county-wide alcohol sales on the ballot next year. The discussion sparked the initial idea of alcohol sales or the possibility of an alcohol sales vote.

If the alcohol referendum passes, Jackson County would be one of three counties in Western North Carolina with county-wide alcohol sales.

This referendum could open up discussion for a new ABC store in Cashiers since the only current ABC store in Jackson County is located in Sylva.

Aramark would not make the decision to serve alcohol on campus.

“It’s a decision that WCU as a whole would make,” said Mike Doppke, director of WCU Dining Services. “It would be a university policy that we would all have to discuss and review. If alcohol was allowed in Jackson County, it would allow possibilities of new and popular restaurants like Chili’s and Applebees to come to WCU’s campus.”

In an interview to the Tuckaseegee Reader, Tom McClure, director of the WCU Millennial Initiative, said, “Approval will have a positive impact on new business development, an incentive to attract restaurants will provide increased opportunity for existing establishments. Many restaurants depend on alcohol sales to be profitable. Law enforcement officials generally take the position that it would be better for food establishments to offer alcohol in Cullowhee instead of having consumers driving elsewhere for the beverage and driving back to Cullowhee, perhaps under the influence.”

WCU Students Alison Sides, Trey Thompson, Will Bostic and Rebecca Roemmich said they are in favor of alcohol sales and said they would look forward to buying alcohol locally. Other younger students, like Shaw-Ron Coleman and Kat Sumeracki, said they were not in favor.

“I think the only benefit of selling alcohol in Cullowhee would be a reduction of people drinking and driving,” WCU senior James Hinnant said.

Other students and WCU staff members shared James thoughts as well.

“I advocate for alcohol sales in Cullowhee,” said Public Relations E-Marketing Specialist, Laura Huff. “I think it would be a good move economically for the community, would enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors here, would provide more things for students, faculty and staff to do, and would increase attendance at events here in Cullowhee.”

Cat’s Nip Café is in support of the alcohol referendum, but doesn’t foresee the sales of alcohol in a coffee and café shop. Other local restaurants and businesses like Bob’s Mini Mart, Rolling Stone Burrito and Mad Batter said they are all in favor of selling alcohol in their respective locations.

Henderson County and Buncombe County are also looking to move toward an alcohol referendum.