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Recent death prompts ABC Board expansion

The Mount Airy ABC Board is being expanded by city officials to avoid the kind of situation that occurred earlier this year when the death of a member left the group short-handed.

Unlike some more heavily populated bodies, the Mount Airy ABC Board contains just three members.

When one of those individuals, Dr. Hugh Sutphin, died in July, that left with the group with only two members to deal with board responsibilities.

These include overseeing operations of the city’s lone liquor store on Starlite Road, which opened in 1979.

“I don’t know that a three-member board is a good number to have,” Mayor Ron Niland said earlier this month during a meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners when a proposal to expand the group was considered.

After discussion, the board gave the nod to pursuing the addition of two more members to the group.

Although it is a volunteer unit, Niland pointed out that the ABC Board has a number of responsibilities including handling significant sums of revenue.

The overall goal of the board is to serve the community responsibly by controlling the sale of spirituous liquor and promoting customer-friendly, modern and efficient stores, as defined by state law. This includes stocking the store, hiring and firing its employees and guiding other functions.

Mayor Niland believes a five-member body would better serve the public interest in those regards.

State law allows a locality to have either a three-member or five-member ABC Board, with City Attorney Hugh Campbell confirming during the Sept. 1 meeting that the commissioners have the authority to expand the group.

City Manager Stan Farmer was instructed to prepare the necessary paperwork for formal consideration at an upcoming meeting. The process also will include suggestions on new members for the expanded ABC Board.

During the last meeting, the commissioners also appointed a replacement for Dr. Sutphin to fill out the remainder of his term.

Dean Hatley was named to serve until Oct. 31, 2023.

The terms for city ABC Board members run for three years, with Sutphin last reappointed in 2020.

Also, the commissioners appointed Tommy Brannock as chairman of that board.

John Sanders presently is the third member of the group, which has staggered terms that expire in alternate years.



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