After a tension filled public hearing, the Lumberton City Council began their regular scheduled meeting this past Monday night.
A local Lumberton Boy Scout Troop was on hand to perform the pledge of allegiance and salute to the flags and the Hardin County Rotary President invited the council to the annual Easter Egg Hunt to be held March 30 from 10 a.m. to noon. The rotary is expecting well over 1,000 participants and is planning a fun filled morning for the annual hunt.
The first item of new business on the agenda was the Wal-Mart variance to sell beer and wine. At a special hearing that took place just before the meeting, several residents were on hand to give their input to the council.
Mayor Suratt stated notice was sent out in the form of certified letters to all those who may be directly affected by the variance and that none who received the letters are present.
Councilmen Don Burnett talked with the council about the decision regarding the variance and brought up several points of discussion including the fact that Lumberton's Police Department and Officers write more DWI's than all of Hardin County combined and that he feels that the officers are doing a great job at combating alcohol abuse behind the wheel.
Burnett also stated that Wal-Mart's situation is a unique one and he does not want to do them any unjust by not allowing them the same opportunities as other businesses within the city limits.
Councilmen Andy Kelley was next to speak and did so with a heavy heart stating that he too has felt a personal loss due to an alcohol related incident and can't help but think about it when he is trying to come to a conclusion regarding the matter.
"This decision runs with so much emotion and I want to make the right decision for all involved."
Other council members also spoke on the complexity of the decision and the ramifications each decision would face before motioning for a vote.
Council Kelly motioned the vote and Councilmen Burnett seconded. The vote passed to allow Wal-Mart the variance with a 5-2 margin.
Next on the agenda was a motion to amend the Proposed Home Rule Charter by increasing zoning members to seven and a motion to confirm three council seats that will be up for election in the May 11 election. Both motions were carried unanimously.
Lumberton Police Chief Danny Sullins gave his annual report on racial profiling for the department. The police department has had no complaints or allegations of racial profiling to date. Sullins also informed the council that the department has never had any instances of racial profiling since the law was put into effect.
Councilmen Dan Bell made several comments stating that the officers are consistently doing a great job and the department received a letter of thanks from the City of Orange Child Protection Services for their help in a case.