The Delaware County Commissioners approved on Monday to join an opioid class action lawsuit.
After a 30 minute executive session with Tulsa attorney George Gibbs, commissioners Russell Martin and David Poindexter favored the proposal while Commissioner Martin Kirk opposed the proposal.
The class action lawsuit will be filed within two weeks against pharmaceutical companies, Gibbs said after the meeting.
The commissioners also approved holding a special election on June 26 for voters to approve removing restrictions on the retail sale of alcoholic beverages by the individual drink.
The restrictions prohibit sales on Christmas Day and prior to 1 p.m. on Sundays.
“We would like to see them start earlier,” said Donne Crain, Grove Area Chamber of Commerce president after the meeting. “These restrictions hurt our restaurants, hotels, marinas, and golf clubs.”
Crain questioned the 1985 restrictions when the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption was first legalized in Delaware County, saying it has hurt businesses that compete for tourism dollars.
In a prepared statement, several businesses owners voiced their support of removing the restrictions.
The outdated restrictions also impact marinas, the boating economy, and boat sales, said Judy Florida, Harbors View Marina general manager and Oklahoma Marinas Association president.
“Marinas in other parts of Oklahoma that do not have these restrictions have significantly more Sunday business than marinas on Grand Lake,” Florida said. “It seems like a small thing, maybe, but if people can’t have a Bloody Mary with brunch on our lake, they just decide to go on home.”
This impacts boat sales, fuel sales, food sales, clothing and accessory sales and, of course, the county tax base, she said.
“The new liquor law that takes effect October 1 allows grocery stores to sell wine and beer and has other provisions that most voters weren’t aware of,” said Andy Stewart, General Manager of Patricia Island Golf Club and Mulligan’s Restaurant.
Beginning October 1 there will be no more 3.2 percent beer in Oklahoma, and the stronger beer falls under the new liquor laws, he said.
“The reality of that fact is that visiting golfers will pack up their families Sunday mornings and go back to play on their home courses, depriving Delaware businesses of tourism dollars, as well as our tax base in the county,” Stewart said. “We want to keep as many of those tourism dollars as possible in Delaware County.”
Ron Lay, 1909 Restaurant owner in Grove, agreed.
“Sunday brunch is a big item, not only for our restaurant, but for all the merchants,” said Lay. “Many people are accustomed to having a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa with a leisurely brunch, but if they want to do that in Delaware County, they have to wait until 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon to have brunch.
“It’s difficult to explain why that’s the case to visitors who come to our area from the other areas of Oklahoma that don’t have such restrictions."
People who choose to celebrate the holiday with family at a resort such as Shangri-La Golf Club, Resort & Marina expect to have the full range of dining options they would have on any other day of the year, said Jason Sheffield, CEO and president.
“Our businesses are losing thousands and thousands of dollars each year, simply because our county liquor laws make it difficult for us to compete with other counties for tourism dollars," Sheffield said.
In other business, the commissioners approved transferring $10,333.53 from the General Fund Capital Outlay account to the OSU Personal Services Account.
This will allow the agency to remain operational through the fiscal year that ends June 30. Also approved was transferring $1,000 from the county’s capital outlay account to its travel account as requested by the Delaware County Election Board.
A lease purchase agreement with Ford Motor Company for 72 months was approved and a bid for $40,252 from Safety.Com was approved for two warning sirens and activation control box for the Tia Juana Fire Department.
Two court cases, CIT Bank vs. Janis Reed, personal representative of the Estate of Cornelius Ott and Flint Ridge Property Owners Association cs. Shirley Giles, were approved to be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office.
The next meeting is 9 a.m., Monday, April 9 at the Delaware County Courthouse in the Commissioners’ Public Meeting room.