Midway Market II loses its beer license for 30 days for underage sales

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Midway Market II has lost its beer license for 30 days after selling to a minor during a compliance check.

Clerk Aletha Hill sold a 25 oz. beer to an underaged person who was being watched by police.

“The cashier done wrong again,” said owner Ralph Watkins at Tuesday’s hearing in front of the Covington Beer Board. “Of course, this was 2018. I’m curious as to why, 10 months later, I’m back up here. We’ve had one year in between on a more recent incident I’ve paid a $1,500 on.”

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Watkins was fined in July for the business’s second offense. The first offense took place in April 2010.

The December 2018 violation, mayor Justin Hanson explained, was part of the last round of compliance checks done before the beer board changed its rules on the timeline of disciplinary action. The board no longer waits until cases have been adjudicated before fining owners.

Watkins made no excuses for the clerk.

“Other than that, I know y’all know the girl did wrong,” he said. “I wasn’t there and it just happened again.”

Alderman Keith Phelps asked for reasons to believe the situations would not be repeated.

Watkins, who has owned the convenience store for 31 years, said he recently spent $120,000 to install new equipment which requires clerks to use scan ID cards when beer and cigarette purchases are made. The clerk must ask for the ID, though.

“Some of them don’t care,” Watkins said. “I can’t make any promises 100 percent, but I hope and pray. We’re trying to get better. I have never been there when one of these incidents has happened but I know I’m responsible for it and I have to own up to that responsibility.”

A third offense requires a business’s beer permit is suspended or revoked in lieu of a fine. Watkins said it’d run his customers away for awhile and is harsh, but “it is what it is.”

Alderwoman Minnie Bommer made a motion for a 15-day suspension, but it was not seconded.

Alderman Danny Wallace made a motion to suspend beer sales for 90 days, it also failed.

Alderman Jeff Morris made a motion to suspend beer sales for 30 days, which was seconded by vice mayor Johnetta Yarbrough and eventually passed by a majority vote. Bommer did not support the motion, suggesting 30 days was too long.

The suspension was effectively immediately Tuesday night.

Hill pleaded guilty to the charges in February. She has paid her court costs and fines in full.

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