Are you curious how long it’s been since residents in and near Pembroke enjoyed the convenience of driving just a few blocks to purchase a bottle of liquor?
Well, this nation had not yet elected Barack Obama as its president.
Yes, it was October 2008, 52 months ago, when the Pembroke ABC Store was closed by the state after an audit determined that inventory was walking out the back door and cash was disappearing — about $50,000 worth combined between 2004 and 2007. Since that time, there has been more than one false start in an effort to reopen the store, but it appears traction is finally being achieved.
On Monday night, Loretta Smith, the chairman of the Pembroke ABC Board, told the Pembroke Council that the ABC store could be operating by June after renovations to the building, which is located at 120 Vance St., are completed. According to Smith, financing has been secured for renovations to the store, which will now be more customer friendly, and the hiring and training of new employees should begin soon.
It’s been a long and winding road to get here, a journey that included a failed attempt to relocate the store, the hiring of a new town manager, the election of new council members and the death of one, and turnover on the ABC Board. But, at last, the stars appear aligned.
It is way past time.
When the store is opened, then revenues from the sales of alcohol will again be directed to the town and can be used to the benefit of town residents, and not those living in Maxton and Red Springs. Additionally, the worry that people will start their drinking in a vehicle on the return trip to Pembroke will at least be mitigated.
When that is all accomplished, then the Town Council can strike one item from its to-do list, but another awaits.
At the end of this month, it will have been one year since Robert “Bob” Williamson died 23 days after he joined the Pembroke Town Council. State law is that the remaining council members appoint Williamson’s replacement, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Last July there was an aborted — more likely disingenuous — attempt by the council to replace Williamson as each of the three council members, Ryan Sampson, Allen Dial, and Larry Brooks, brought different nominees to the floor, and none could garner a second vote.
A week later Sampson offered these excuses for the delay: He said the council was occupied by the search for a new town manager, a search that ended with the hiring of Oryan Lowry in July 2012, and the council wanted to wait and see if Brooks would win election to the school board in May 2012 — he didn’t — and if two appointments, not just one, would be needed.
Six months later, we wonder what the excuse is for the continued delay. What is obviously lacking is a desire to round out the board, and the reason is clear — two can steer a council of three much better than a council of four.