Fircrest looking to end "dry" status?



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Posted on May 26, 2014 at 7:05 PM

Updated Monday, May 26 at 8:33 PM

FIRCREST, Wash. -- There are many things you can do in this small town of just 6,500 people.

But lately the talk has been about what you cannot do.

"You know, the speed limit is 25 miles, if you speed you're going to get pulled over, we have a great police force," laughs Jill Absten, the owner of "TWO" in the heart of the small town's business district.

She has plenty of things on her cafe's menu, including coffee, sandwiches, and pastries. But customers won't find any beer or wine.

"It's definitely crossed our minds, when doing after-hours events, would've been nice," said Absten.

That's because Fircrest, founded in 1925, has kept prohibition in place. Voters ruled in 1975 to keep the town dry, after state liquor laws had changed.

A handful of businesses, including the Fircrest Golf Club, were exempted when Fircrest annexed a portion of Pierce County in the 1990s.

"It's been dry since prohibition," said Fircrest city councilman Matthew Jolivois, who suggests the town should look at changing the law for "community development, economic development, synergies." He is supporting a special meeting of the City Council on the topic, scheduled for Tuesday night at City Hall.

Shannon Reynolds is also a city council member and, at 20 years old, is not old enough to drink. Yet she says constituents have told her it is time to make a change.  

"It seems to be the majority, we'll find out tomorrow night," said Reynolds, who said businesses could benefit from the increased revenue from alcohol sales. "You can still be a quiet town and a nice place to visit."

City Councilmember Hunter George said he believes the city is in a fact finding mode, and will need time to make a decision.  George said it is his understanding that if voters formally rejected a change and kept the ban it place, it would also end sales for those exempted businesses.

"It would hurt (those exempted) small businesses along Mildred," acknowledges Absten, "That to me is a negative, but there are both sides to the story. I think it would be a benefit."