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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
The Rockford Town Council met earlier than usual this month, meeting a week early because of the Christmas holiday.
During last Tuesday evening’s meeting the council handled a decent amount of business in a relatively short time frame, with the meeting lasting less than 30 minutes.
Glen Fuller with Rockford Deli and Package Store addressed the council with a request for the town’s approval for an on-premise alcohol license enabling the deli to serve alcohol on site. He explained that while the package store portion of the business allows customers to purchase bottles for off-premise consumption, this new license would enable them to serve alcohol by the glass on the premises.
During discussion Chief of Police George Fanning asked to make sure that Fuller knows he and other employees have the right to refuse service to customers if needed and that they have the right to cut a customer off if they’ve reached the drinking limit.
Councilmember Robert Smith asked about the business hours. Fuller said that the hours may change during the summer, but that they will remain the same for now, with those hours being 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
During further discussion, Fuller said that they will have an outdoor area on the side of the building with a privacy fence for outside consumption.
Councilmember Lynn Anne Castleberry asked Fuller about the types of alcohol that would be served on site. He said it would include beer, wine and liquor.
After discussion, the council, with Councilmember Cordarius Lee absent, unanimously approved the request for an on-premise alcohol license for Rockford Deli. As such, the council approved a letter stating its approval and support to go forward with the license process.
Fuller later said that he did not know yet when the deli might start serving alcohol. The state has to receive the letter from the town and come to conduct an inspection first.
Once that is completed, with state approval the deli will receive its license and be able to begin serving alcohol on the premises. Fuller said that they hope to have the license before the new year.
In other business, the council discussed potential one-time pay increases for the town employees. Mayor Scott White explained that the town typically gives employees a $200 one-time pay increase, but that it gave them $500 last year because of having COVID-19 funds.
White said the matter was up for discussion, but that he would be OK with the town doing what it did last year, adding that they still have COVID-19 funds available for it.
Smith asked about part-time employees. During discussion Castleberry said that she thought $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees would be ideal.
After brief discussion the council unanimously approved one-time pay raises of $500 for each full-time employee and $250 for each part-time employee. The town currently has two full-time and three part-time employees.
The council also discussed the town’s business licenses and its contract with Avenu. White reported that the issuance fee of business licenses was increasing for everyone, with the fee increasing from $9.95 to $13.
However, he said that legislation was passed that would enable the town to increase its issuance fee. He explained that if the town did not approve an increase then it would be “going into the hole” on business licenses.
White added that Avenu agreed to a 1-year contract rather than a 3-year contract, as well. During further discussion he suggested the town increase the issuance fee so that it does not lose money.
After discussion, the council unanimously approved increasing the business license issuance fee from $9.95 to $13. Further, the council also unanimously approved entering into the new 1-year contract with Avenu.
In other business, during the meeting White also appointed Castleberry as the new mayor pro tempore to fill the vacancy left by former Councilmember Kimberly Crowe’s resignation. As mayor pro tem Castleberry will fill in during White’s absence as needed.
Also during the meeting, the council and town clerks discussed the Christmas Eve holiday and Town Hall closure for the holiday weekend. It was already established that Town Hall would be closed December 26 for the holiday.
Town Clerk Lesle Nelson asked about possibly closing Town Hall half a day on Friday, December 23, as well. The council briefly discussed closing all day Friday instead and giving employees a 4-day weekend.
After discussion, the council unanimously approved the 4-day weekend and closing Town Hall today and Monday, December 26.
However, on Wednesday afternoon the Town of Rockford posted on Facebook that Town Hall would also be closed half a day Thursday, December 22.
During the meeting, Chief Fanning also introduced himself as the town’s new police chief, but said he believed he had met almost everyone in attendance at the meeting.
“If you need anything, I’m here,” Fanning said. “Call me. Scott’s got my number; he doesn’t mind calling me.”
Following the brief introduction, White said that Fanning is doing “a great job.” He added that Fanning has been going around town meeting the business owners and letting them know that he is there to help them any way he can.
Also at the meeting White reported that the town’s paving project for the portion of County Road 18 and Nixburg Road has been delayed, stating that the paving project is on hold until temperatures stabilize.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Rockford Town Council will be held at 6 p.m. January 17.