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County talks juvenile detention, beer sales

By ZOË WATKINS - zwatkins@t-g.com
Posted 3/25/23

The Bedford County Standing Committees met in their regular meetings Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics. 

The issue of what to do with juvenile detention was a talking point and brought …

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County talks juvenile detention, beer sales


The Bedford County Standing Committees met in their regular meetings Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics. 

The issue of what to do with juvenile detention was a talking point and brought up several concerns financially for the county. 

“Back in 2020 we had an initial meeting and a special committee that was formed, and we discussed whether or not we wanted to continue to house juveniles here in the county or not,” said Commissioner Julie Sanders, who also chairs the Courthouse and Property Committee. “There’s a lot of different factors that go into that.” 

Sanders said they are hoping to get solid financial numbers to the committee in the upcoming weeks to help make a decision. For example, Sanders said they have already had an architect draw up a sample to give them an idea for how much a facility would cost. 

The issue is, however, that the county is going to have to spend money either way. 

Whether the county chooses to house the juveniles or not, they will still need to employee staff, a director, and other program expenses, such as transportation. Essentially, the county will still be responsible for those kids though they may be housed in another county’s facility. 

“The county has got to make a decision if we’re going to be in the business of housing or not,” said Mayor Chad Graham. “The facility is poor and continue to degrade…It’s really went past its lifespan, the physical facility.” 

Graham suggested the county look at the “long game” versus the “short game.”

“The short game, I don’t think there’s any way we can lay it out that makes it look appealing to you. But the long game and the upside…is about should we hold these children ourselves or sell out and have somebody do it.”

This is especially a crucial decision as the children who get “caught up in that system” tend to fall behind in education as the department is understaffed. “So when they finally do show back up in the school system, they’re even further behind,” said Graham. 

They plan to hold a meeting at 6 p.m. April 11—after the Homeless Task Force meeting at 5 p.m.— in the Bedford County Courthouse’s second floor to discuss the hard figures and what actions to take next.

Beer permit change

Tracy Strassner, co-owner of Sunchaser Market—as well as representatives from Halls Mill Market and Bedford Market—asked after the Rules and Legislative Committee meeting how they might be able to sell beer in the county.  

“Being a small business now is really hard,” said Strassner. Strassner said it’s hard for businesses to get started around the county and cited how many small stores have changed hands or closed.

“Halls Mill has changed hands. Unionville Grocery, they’re not there…Bedford Market has changed hands. Valley View in Normandy has changed hands. Everyone is really struggling to make it work. And even, too, Wheel still doesn’t have a market. Rover doesn’t have a market,” said Strassner. 

Protecting these rural villages by allowing them to be competitive is one way to keep “rural, rural,” according to Strassner. 

How can they compete at the same level? Allow them to sell packaged beer, some say.

Bedford County has a rule forbidding the sale, storage or manufacture of beer within 2,000 feet of a church, school, or other place of public gathering as well as within 300 feet of a residential dwelling (if the owner objects to the issuance of a beer permit).  

The law was passed by the General Assembly back in the mid-1930s when rural counties were decades away from the ability to pass and enforce their own zoning resolutions. It became an official ruling on July 9, 1984, pursuant to TCA 57-5-105(b)(1.)

Shelbyville City, on the other hand, is independent of the distance rule. “Cities and counties have different rules and regulations. The city has adopted a zero-boundary line. The county is 2,000 feet,” said Commissioner Greg Vick. 

Commissioners Vick and Anita Epperson asked the small business owners to put a petition together, with some 400 signatures, to present before the commission board. Strassner hinted that they already have a petition. 

“In order for this to go forward, the county commission has to have a discussion on changing the distance requirements on selling beer…This is government; it takes a process,” said Vick.