Education leads to heated debate over Branson's right to regulate alcohol

A heated discussion arose as Branson city officials discussed alcohol on the Branson Landing.
Last Monday, Action Ministries Clergyman Jory Rolf and Salvation Army Captain Ron Keys addressed Branson City Council to share their offense to an incident involving alcohol consumption at a free concert at the Branson Landing earlier this month. Rolf and Keys have taken a conservative stance against public consumption of alcohol carrying over into a stance against Huffman's enterprises during a debate regarding future expansion of his Branson based empire. After a feasibility study was complete Huffman chose to table the project.
Branson Alderman have maintained their hands were tied on the issue of alcohol as regulation is in the hands of the state. Branson Alderman Stephen Marshall hit city Attorney Paul Link and City Administrator Terry Dody hard with questioning. Not appreciating their response, Stephen fired back by saying he's not going to put up with this pigheadedness for two years. At the end of the meeting Marshall apologized for his statement modifying his adjective to "stubborn". Dody conceded he would call himself stubborn....tensions cool....
Joe Hodgin of the Missouri Division of Liquor control will address Branson's Board of Alderman next Monday clarifying any questions about the cities ability to regulate permits and alcohol use in general. Controversy over the issue isn't new and has been an item of contention over the last several years. In 2004 Taney County's Presiding Commissioner Chuck Pennel challenged the board over theaters being permitted to issue alcohol licenses.
In a private meeting with HCW and Branson Landing tenants last year it was suggested that establishments would be able to issue plastic cups with alcoholic beverages. No restaurants to date have allowed beverages to be taken outside on the boardwalk. An establishment (Five and Dime) selling packaged beer has discontinued the practice. A sting operation left one establishment with heavy fines and a bartender without a job last year after they were caught selling liquor to an underage person planted by the Taney County Sheriff's Department.
The misconceptions about alcohol permitting has enabled loose policies which are now being challenged by the Missouri Division of Liquor Control. A beer stand near the fountain aka town center was issued a warning by Hodgin yesterday. According to statute the vendor has to enclose the area. They've been given 10 days to comply. The stand will be taken over by Hilton management (long overdue) soon. Other projects have taken priority with the opening of a new restaurant and the Branson Convention center 30 days away.
Editor's Note/Disclosure: I spoke at the last Branson Alderman's meeting. After, I felt humiliated. When writing for a news organization, I believe this is inappropriate, after all I don't have space to write disclosure statements. The reason I spoke was to get a statement on the record. When Rolf and Keys spoke, I found the discussion too tempting and addressed the board bored the board with my rant. When I made statements about Missouri Law, the board said they'd refer to legal counsel...right answer - as it turns out - I was right...still feel embarrassed. I am a student of my government and I study hard. My research began last year for a client who wanted information about alcohol laws, permitting etc. I read through over a hundred pages of related documentation including materials provided by journalist Vonda Sheets who was looking into the issue as well...