Board suspends alcohol permit

By Megan R. Harrell

Star Staff

   The Elizabethton Beverage Board voted Thursday night to suspend a local business' alcohol permit after it was charged with selling alcohol to minors for the fourth time in two years. Roadrunner Market No. 141, 416 Highway 91, has seven days to file a circuit court appeal before the 180-day suspension takes effect.
   The six-month permit suspension is the longest ever issued by the Beverage Board. The action sets a precedence in the city and sends a strong message to area permit holders. "As concerned as we are about losing business, we are serious about the sale of alcohol to minors," said Mayor Sam LaPorte.
   The permit holders had little defense in the show cause hearing after the former employee caught selling to a minor Sept. 19, failed to make an appearance before the board. The employee was fired directly after an undercover sting at 19 permit holder locations in the area. According to police reports, Roadrunner Market #141 was the only permit holder that violated the ordinance.
   The board issued an off-premises beer permit to Ralph Fellers and Warren K. Broyles of Mountain Empire, 3583 W. Market St., Johnson City on Dec. 12, 1997. The board imposed a $250 civil penalty and a three-day suspension for the first violation on Dec. 9, 1999. The permit holders received a $750 civil penalty on July 20, 2000 and another $1,500 penalty on Sept. 13 for selling to minors. The fourth and latest violation occurred just six days after the board imposed the $1,500 civil penalty.
   Defense attorney Richard Pectol, Johnson City, is expected to file an appeal on behalf of the permit holders. Pectol asked the board for a deferment in order to subpoena the former Roadrunner employee responsible for the Sept. 19 violation. Pectol expected the former employee to testify that the management was not responsible for her individual mistake.
   The owners of the store are concerned about the future of their store if the license suspension takes effect. Alcohol sales account for a large portion of the convenience store's revenue.