Northeast Cherokee County’s sparsely populated city of Waleska, home of Reinhardt University, recently handed out its first package alcohol sales permit, and Mayor Doris Jones said Thursday that residents want the city to go a step further and allow restaurants to sell alcohol.
The possibility of allowing alcohol pouring in Waleska began when the city was approached by residents considering re-opening a restaurant, Jones said.
City Councilwoman Edna Cook said Thursday that she plans to vote to pass the ordinance and hopes it will bring more business and money to the city.
Waleska now has almost no restaurants, but Cook said allowing alcohol sales could change that.
“It’s been very hard for restaurants to stay open, because they don’t have that (revenue),” she said. “I hope that we can get more restaurants interested in coming and that they can be successful.”
In an effort to better understand how residents felt about alcohol, Jones said Waleska staff mailed out a poll to residents several months ago.
“And more were for it than against it,” she said. “I think it’s the will of the citizens.”
Cook agreed that residents want alcohol in their restaurants.
“We have heard from the citizens,” she said. “So we decided that it would be a good thing.”
Jones said the first reading of the new alcohol ordinance passed 5-1 with Councilwoman Mary Helen Lamb voting against it.
Lamb could not be reached for comment.
Jones said that she hopes allowing beer and wine in Waleska restaurants could be beneficial to the city when Reinhardt University kicks off its new football program in the fall.
In further efforts to get the city in shape for football, Jones said the City Council recently approved an agreement with Cherokee County for the county to provide Waleska with code enforcement services.
Waleska historically has had issues with getting some residents to keep their homes up to code, because the city has no code enforcement officers or court to process offenders.
Jones said city staff and officials worked diligently to get the agreement with Cherokee approved, and they plan to put it to use immediately.
“With everything that’s happening and football coming in the fall,” she said, “we just want to get our city real clean,” she said.