Commissioners extend 'last call' for county's bars

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

Burnet Bulletin

Bars and nightclubs in the unincorporated areas of Burnet County now can remain open until 2 a.m. each night after Burnet County commissioners voted 3-2 on Aug. 13 to approve an ordinance granting extended hours for the sale of mixed beverages, wine and beer.

The vote comes three weeks after commissioners first heard a request from a Bertram bar owner who wanted commissioners to allow his business to remain open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights as well as on special holidays, like New Year's Eve.

It also reverses a previous decision by the commissioners court two years ago not to extend hours for the sale of alcoholic beverages in the county.

Commissioners had tabled a July 23 request by Brian Lynch, owner of Hometown Watering Hole at 3317 Texas Highway 29 because the agenda item did not specifically allow commissioners to extend sales hours for all of the unincorporated areas of Burnet County.

The county is allowed to pass an order which establishes where mixed beverages can be sold up until 2 a.m., but the order must be applied equally to all businesses with mixed beverage sales permits located in unincorporated areas of the county, County Attorney Eddie Arredondo told commissioners.

This time around, Precinct 2 Commissioner Damon Beierle expressed his support for extending hours as he made the motion to approve the change.

“State law allows bars to remain open until 2 a.m. and this evens the playing field for all business owners in the county,” Beierle said. “Bar owners will still have to go to TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) to apply for this to be a part of their license, so it will be regulated by the TABC, and our sheriff (Calvin Boyd) has previously said he has no objection to changing the hours.”

In a roll vote, Beierle and Precinct 3 Commissioner Billy Wall, who seconded his motion, both voted in favor of the change, while Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery and Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther Jr. both voted against it.

“I have visited individually with Brian to let him know this is not anything personal,” Dockery said. “I do not think we should further put the public at risk with intoxicated drivers on the roads later at night.”

County Judge James Oakley cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the change and said he has a “laissez-faire” attitude when it comes to private businesses.

“This is more about providing equity to all of the bar owners in the county and less government interference in their ability to run their businesses,” Oakley said moments before making it a 3-2 vote in favor of the ordinance...

Read more about the extended 'last call' time for local bars in the Wednesday, Aug. 14 issue of the Burnet Bulletin, the newspaper of record for northern Burnet County. Email a note to lew@highlandernews.com orsavanna@burnetbulletin.com. To subscribe, call 512-756-6136.

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