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home : local news : local news
November 16, 2018

3/2/2018 9:13:00 AM
Council rejects proposal for liquor/gaming license for convenience store
Daily News

A Robinson convenience store will not be awarded a liquor license.

The Robinson City Council voted unanimously Tuesday against a motion to give Huck's a liquor license which would allow the store to have an enclosed area for gaming.

Grant Jones of Midwest Electronics appeared before the council to voice his plea for the license, noting that revenue reports show municipalities' revenues go up when gaming licenses are added.

He said Midwest is the state's premier vendor for gaming terminals. In Illinois, Jones said, Huck's has gaming parlors at 26 locations. He used West Frankfort as an example of what could happen in Robinson if the motion were approved.

"In the 10 months prior to Huck's having gaming machines in West Frankfort to the 10 months after, the community made an extra $20,000 that went to the municipality share," Jones said.

Concerns were expressed by Robinson liquor store owners and VFW members, mostly regarding loss of revenue because of a new establishment and underage youth possibly finding a way past security to get liquor. VFW Commander Dan Swaner voiced the latter.

"I don't want my grandchildren around a place where you can walk in and get liquor and all," Swaner said. "We just installed a new security system at the VFW and all these other places, but we don't allow youth at our places."

Swaner and fellow VFW member Jerry Decker also told the council that despite having their own gaming machines the VFW's revenue has gone down because of other new gaming establishments in Robinson. They were worried that another store being granted a license would continue to hurt them.

"In order to provide services for our veterans, we can't stand much reduction in revenue," Decker said. "Giving another gaming license would cut us again."

Jones tried to reassure the VFW members and liquor store owners in attendance that his company believes that they don't take gamers or revenue away from bars and restaurants. Rather, it creates a different kind of player or draws attention of interested customers who don't go to other places to play.

Alcohol is also not pushed at their establishments, he added, but just serves a qualifier for all those of legal drinking age. West Frankfort has eight gaming parlors, while Robinson has nine.

"We have to sell it, so we do," Jones said. "We do a three-drink max and have to sell alcohol to go with the gaming, it's the only way to get a license."

D.J. Party Supply owner Patrick Stephens also spoke to the council about why he believes the new license would threaten local businesses.

If Huck's were granted a license, Stephens warned, other stores and gas stations in the community would want it to keep up. Employees of the current establishments would be jeopardized by other stores getting licenses.

"My family has been in the liquor business for over 40 years here," Stephens said. "We look at this as kind of a back door of what's been done in the past."

Stevens also said that other communities and colleagues have acknowledged there's no new tax revenue generated from additional liquor stores opening.

Mayor Roger Pethtel, who did not vote on the measure, said he agreed with Stephens and Swaner that a demand for licenses for other stores would be the most likely outcome if the item passed, which would take income from others.

In other business, the council was told by Superintendent of Public Works Lawrence Quick that another sewer tap had collapsed into the main sewer under East Oak Street. Last month, Quick and several city workers were able to fix the same problem underneath East Main with the help of Holt Excavator.

Quick said his workers were able to identify another collapse along the same line at 707 E. Oak behind the old Crawford Hydraulics building, which created a sinkhole as wide as a Volkswagen and five feet deep.

"We anticipated it was another tap that collapsed because we couldn't get to it with our high-pressure jetting truck," Quick said.

Holt was called in to help excavate the pipe, which was completed Tuesday. Crews will continue cleaning the area up later this week.

Aldermen approved paying the company a maximum $5,000 for its services.

They also approved condemning buildings at 1109 S. Jones, 111 W. Highland and 106 Roosevelt.

The owner of the Jones property, Cynthia Warren, told Pethtel and the council she has arranged for someone to tear down the building, but they haven't gotten around to it yet. Pethtel said he understood but still recommended condemnation because it's such a long process (60 days).

He and city attorney Frank Weber said the best thing to do would be to go through the process and keep checking with Warren during that time. If the building is torn down in that time, they would cancel the process.

Warren agreed and requested the city loan her dumpsters for the demolition, which was approved.

Brian Dunlap, the Roosevelt property owner, was given the same option as Warren since he is waiting to hear from another contractor. The Highland property owner was not in attendance at the meeting.

The council approved the purchase of office chairs for the Robinson Police Department at a cost of $2,160.97 from Office Connections. Aldermen also approved motor fuel tax funds for salt, culvert pipe and a concrete cold patch for $80,000.

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