City of Barnwell to vote on Sunday alcohol sales; residents, organization reacts

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BARNWELL, S.C. (WJBF) — You could soon buy alcohol on Sundays in Barnwell South Carolina. A measure on next Tuesday’s ballot would allow Sunday sales if approved.

“We like that small-town feel and we like for it to stay that way,” Executive Director of Axis I Center of Barnwell Pam Rush told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.

It’s that small-town feel that Pam Rush thinks could slip away if a referendum is passed in November. She’s the Executive Director at Axis I Center. It’s Barnwell County’s only provider of substance abuse treatment and prevention services. Nearly 50 percent of her clients have issues with alcohol.

“About 40% of our clients tell us that alcohol is their number one primary problem. When they come in for services and at least 14 to 15% tell us it’s their secondary,” Rush added.

On the ballot, you can choose whether or not Sunday alcohol sales will be allowed in the City of Barnwell. Recently the city council passed a referendum to allow residents to vote to believe it could build economic development and increase economic sales in the city.

“Sunday alcohol sales have been allowed in towns like Allendale and Aiken, and we’ve done some research there as well,” Rush said. “We found that Allendale has seen no significant economic development from their Sunday sales. Now Aiken is different. They’re more of an urban-type city where we’re more rural. It may be okay for them, but we just don’t feel like it’s okay for Barnwell County,” she added.

Rush believes it could do more harm than good. “When you allow another day for sales of alcohol, such as Sunday, that problems occur such as impaired driving, increasing, use of alcohol and alcohol consumption, which can also lead to domestic violence, sexual assaults, and other health outcomes that we simply do not need in this community,” she added.

Newschannel 6 spoke with a number of residents about the referendum. They all had similar responses. “I don’t drink alcohol, but, you know, it is what it is and if that’s what people, you know, vote on so be it,” Paul Hinkley said. “I don’t see no problem in it. I’d rather see it after church or something like that. Maybe out that way. Not all day long telling stuff,” Ronnie Bragg added. “I don’t feel too bad about it. It can go either way, some people drink and some people don’t drink and they don’t like it. So it doesn’t really matter to me,” James Hallingqust

Tuesday polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

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