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By Jasmine Desarae
Union City – Community members gathered tonight at Union City’s Borough Council meeting to hear the final decision on Country Fair receiving the liquor license transfer.
The conversation started with the hearing of visitors – the last chance for people to have their voices heard. The first two members to direct their comments toward the license were Howard and Dave. Both men agreed that Union City does not need Country Fair to have the license. Dave advised the council to think hard about the decision they were about to make. Councilman Daniel Hoban assured Dave that there had been many months of deeply thinking about this situation. Hoban mentioned the many sleepless nights, endless calls and conversations about what the council would do – it was not an easy decision for anyone to make.
Mark Racop, owner of Union City Beverage, was present again for the meeting. His first comment was “this was a great PR campaign” for Country Fair. The possibility of a liquor license transfer has been the talk of the town for months – making the convenient store the center of Union City’s attention. Racop’s bottom-line was the corporation does not care about the people of Union City – they care about profit. Racop even mentioned that he runs Union City Beverage to make a profit. Essentially, according to Racop, that is the purpose of a business.
Paul Rankin, Country Fair’s representative, restated what he has at previous meetings. Rankin reminded council and the community that change is happening in society and Union City needs to change with it. Despite others considering Country Fair to be an “out of town” corporation, Rankin again brought to light Ray McGarvy, the founder of this particular convenient store. His initial roots were planted in Union City. Rankin continued by saying this is “how retail is changing.” There are certain groups who do not want to be in the bar scene, this is just another option for town members.
Tara Kaplan and her husband ended the visitors’ portion on a positive note about Country Fair. Tara, who lived in Union City when she was younger and only recently returned, started by saying “it is an every day thing to go into a store and buy beer,” in every state but Pennsylvania. She understands both sides of the argument. She recognized that this may be weird to some community members because it is a foreign concept within the state; however, all change is weird at first. Although Tara agreed she sees all sides of the situation, she mentioned that her and her husband would not go into Kim’s Townhouse simply because of the smoking – even though Tara has heard wonderful things about Kim’s and the food. The Kaplan’s agreed that it is time to move forward and stop being stuck in the past.
Finally, it was time for the council to vote. The last councilman to vote, Daniel Brumagin, was the person to tie the vote or veto it entirely. After a long hesitation and contemplation, Brumagin brought the vote to a tie. In the event of a tie, the final vote went to Union City’s mayor, Natalie Wilmoth. Wilmoth admitted she thought it would come to this and had been thinking of her answer. She continued by saying the decision will not directly affect her either way because she is not a drinker. Before giving her answer, Wilmoth explained how she determined her vote. She stated that she has talked to many community members about their view and opinion on the subject. The majority of people she has talked to are in favor of Country Fair receiving this liquor license. As the elected mayor, Natalie believes it is her duty to be the voice of the people – so, she approved of the passing.
After the decision was made, there were people content and clearly some who were disappointed. Kimberly Stine, owner of Kim’s Townhouse, assured she and her business would be fine as she quickly exited the meeting. Racop threw in that he and others will have to “improvise, adapt and overcome.” Council member Emmett McGuire expressed and explained his vote against the license. McGuire is concerned about the lack of security he believes will be present, based on other Country Fair’s he has visited. Overall, he could not believe the town would allow another place with access to alcohol for young community members.
Union City is still at minimum six to seven months away from changes happening to Country Fair. Soon, however, the Union City community will have the option to purchase beer and/or wine at the town’s convenience store.