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County OKs liquor license for Lashes

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Less than four weeks after voting down a request for a liquor license, the Fayette County Board approved the renewal of a license.
And, as they did so, the board chairman assured the holders of the renewed license that the two requests differed substantially.
The board took only about 10 minutes to OK the renewal of the license for Summer Breeze Wine House in St. James, a rural area between St. Elmo and St. Peter.
The meeting would have been even shorter had board Chairman Steve Knebel not taken time to assure Tammy and Mark Lash that the license renewal was “really not a big deal.”
License applications and renewals are routinely part of regular board meetings, but the board met in special session on Tuesday due to the fact that the Lashes’ license application had to be approved in order for Tammy to host a bridal shower this Saturday.
Knebel told the Lashes that their license renewal had not been acted on earlier due to an oversight.
Knebel told board members prior to the vote that the Lashes’ businesses had received perfect ratings on state inspections, and that they have made some improvements to the business.
Tammy Lash said she was “kind of surprised” that they had to reapply for a license each year.
She said they had spent about $15,000 on an addition to the business, “and we plan to make more improvements.”
The fact that they have to reapply for a license every year, Tammy said, can cause some uncertainty about continuing to operate.
“We need to know, as a small business, that we can be in business every year, and grow every year,” she said.
Mark Lash said, “We know that we owe the liquor fee (every year),” but he and Tammy didn’t realize it would have to be voted on yearly.
Knebel told them that based on the way they have operated the wine house, they need not worry about the license.
“You’ve got a respectable business,” Knebel said.
“I would be very shocked if this board would deny a license,” he said.
“If this board denied you a license, that’s the day I quit,” he said.
Board member Glen “Whitey” Daniels asked about the possibility of changing the county ordinance governing liquor licenses, making it so licenses are good for, say, three years.
But board member Dean Bernhardt was among those to indicate that they want to stay with the current license term.
During the discussion on the license renewal, Knebel made it clear to the Lashes that their renewal application was different than the application rejected by the board in April.
At its April meeting, the board voted 10-4 to deny a license application submitted by Steve and Latisha Mabry, who plan to open a restaurant on Vandalia Lake at the Ill. Route 185 bridge.
“Please don’t confuse this with the other issue, because that is not an issue with you guys,” Knebel said.
After the vote on the Mabry application, a number of board members said they were opposed to the issuance of a license in that case because the couple, according to the wording in a county ordinance, would not be prohibited from selling package liquor.
The board will reportedly be voting on a change to the wording of that ordinance, spelling out that a Class A license does not allow the sale of liquor to be consumed off of the premises.