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Commissioner critical of serving alcohol at public functions

May 06, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County Commissioner John E. Wright says he doesn't like the idea of alcohol being served at government agency functions because it sends a bad message.

Wright said there is hardly an agency function, such as a dinner or annual meeting, at which alcohol isn't served.

"I simply don't like to be around someone who is drinking and falling over themselves," said Wright, a local minister.

"I just don't think it speaks well of government," Wright said at the commissioners meeting Thursday.

Wright said he is referring to government agencies that have separate functions from the commission, but who receive funding from the commission or have members who are appointed by the commission.

Wright referred to the agencies as the "shadow government."

Wright said the county is sending a mixed message about alcohol when it criticizes drunk driving or prohibits drinking at public events but overlooks drinking at certain functions.

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Earlier in the year, the commissioners voted against allowing the annual West Virginia Wine and Arts Festival at the Poor House Farm Park.

Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart disagreed with Wright, saying people who drink at government-related functions generally know how to handle themselves.

"I just don't think you can tell people what to do on their time off," Burkhart said.

Gary Collis, program manager of the Berkeley County Ambulance Authority, said he has worked with emergency rescue volunteers for nearly 20 years, and he has never known a volunteer to get behind the wheel of a fire truck or ambulance after a function at which alcohol was served.

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