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Sunday Sales Anniversary

13 May

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today marks the one-year anniversary of select Sunday alcohol sales in Oxford. The Oxford Eagle recently ran an article summarizing how the Sundays have affected restaurant sales, crime and more. Check out the full article below.

Sunday Alcohol Sales Concludes First Year

BY Melanie Addington

Mother’s Day is here again, which means Oxford has reached the first anniversary of its law allowing Sunday alcohol sales on select holidays and game-day weekends.

During this first year, little has changed — except, possibly, a few more tax dollars in city coffers. While crime has not gone up, tax collections have. Sunday sales of alcohol may be one reason why the local food and beverage tax is up 14 percent this year. “We have not had any major law enforcement problems created by Sunday sales,” Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin said this week. “It seems to be a calm crowd on Sundays.”

But Alderman-at-large John Morgan said Sunday sales may be playing a part in an increase in the food and beverage tax. “I don’t know if you can attribute it to Sunday sales, but it appears that we are up 14 percent year-to-date on the food and beverage tax,” Morgan said. “That’s a significant amount, if you ask me.”

Some places on the Square will remain closed this Sunday, such as City Grocery and Ajax, while others are planning specials for Mother’s Day, such as Roosters, which will be offering $6 martinis and staying open later than usual on a Sunday. “We normally close at 3:30, but we will stay open as late as they let us,” owner Scott Michael said.

Other restaurants which typically are open without alcohol sales on Sunday like the uptick in sales. Chili’s on West Jackson Avenue has enjoyed the extra sales days and noticed a positive impact. “Absolutely, it definitely has made an impact,” manager Jennifer Smith said. “We haven’t sold as much as you might think, though. I am not sure a lot of people are aware.”

Smith said Chili’s has 2-for-1 specials every day they can sell alcohol and this Sunday is no exception. Hours for alcohol sales Sunday are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The measure allowing Sunday alcohol sales was approved in 2011 by the Oxford Board of Aldermen and then the state approved the local measure. The law allows local restaurants to serve alcohol on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and home football weekends. Valentine’s Day is also a special exception when it falls on Sundays.

Additional info from follow-up article 5/14: Mayor Pat Patterson was against the Sunday alcohol sales, and while he admits it may have increased some tax revenue, he has no intention of increasing sales to all Sundays or increasing bar hours. “The board and I agreed on a compromise and I’m not in the least bit interested in changing it,” Patterson said. “I’m not in favor of extending alcohol sales on Sunday or extending bar sales under any circumstances.”

Fate of City-Run Farmer’s Market Decided

9 May

According to an article by Alyssa Schnugg in today’s Oxford Eagle, “After several heated meetings and discussion between city officials, members of the Farmers’ Market Committee and members of the Mid-Town Farmers’ Market on the creation of a city-run market, the necessary legislation needed to form [[a new city-run]] market died in committee in Jackson, MS. For the city to run the market, it needed approval from the Mississippi Legislature in the form of ‘local and private legislation.’ That bill, sponsored by Oxford Rep. Brad Mayo, died on the last day of the legislative session.

“‘We finished three days early and it caught the local and private committee by surprise, I think,’ Mayo said Tuesday. ‘The bill got in a little late as well. There were about 40 bills that died. It didn’t die for any other reason but time.’”


YAC Loses Funding

4 Oct

photo credit: Bruce Newman

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the news that the county pulled funds from the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council due largely in part to last week’s Scratch and Sniff art exhibit. I wasn’t the only one who was shocked to hear the news. Those around Oxford who have directly (I just held my EatingOxford.com event at The Powerhouse last week and attend many events there throughout the year)—and indirectly benefited from the events held at The Powerhouse quickly rallied together to support YAC.

There’s an event planned to raise funds for YAC. It will take place on October 18th right before the Three Blind Wines event begins at The Powerhouse. Full details are available here.

A Facebook group has also been set up called Oxford’s Got YAC’s Back. You can find it here.

In the meantime, I’ve included the full article from today’s Oxford Eagle below.

County pulls YAC funds
Supervisors slam Arts Council for controversial art show

By Alyssa Schnugg

Staff Writer

“It’s trash,” District 5 Supervisor Ray Sockwell said in regards to the recent art show, “Scratch and Sniff,” that was scheduled to run at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center last week, but which was later moved to a private location.

Sockwell admitted to not seeing the art show and based his reaction on “what I heard about it.”

Sockwell was one of three supervisors who voted Monday to not approve the $15,000 annual appropriation to the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. Supervisors Lloyd Oliphant and Robert Blackmon sided with Sockwell. Supervisors Johnny Morgan and Mike Pickens voted to support the appropriations; however, the 3-2 vote against the funding was enough to pull the money for YAC.

Following the outrage from the community resulting from the funding cut, Blackmon has now requested to have the matter put back on the agenda for the supervisors’ November meeting for further discussion.

“I’m not going to support spending taxpayer’s money on something like that,” Sockwell said after Monday’s meeting.

Show moved last week

A one-night-only art exhibition called “Scratch and Sniff” by Katherine Rhodes Fields, a local artist and printmaking instructor at the University of Mississippi, was initially scheduled to open last week at the Powerhouse.

However, Mayor Pat Patterson requested the show not be exhibited at the partially publicly funded Powerhouse after he received six complaints from members of the community before the exhibit even opened. As a result, Fields’ show was moved across the street to a tent set up outside the Main Squeeze restaurant.

Oliphant said he would like to see YAC formulate a better plan to schedule shows that are appropriate for each and every citizen. While he stopped short of saying the “Scratch and Sniff” art show was the only reason he chose to withhold the funds, he said the incident was the “icing on the cake.”

“There are plenty of other nonpublic venues for shows like ‘Scratch and Sniff,’” he said. “It doesn’t need to be in a public building. We’re not precluding the art world from being able to display their goods. But it’s not fair for me as a government representative to take public tax dollars and appropriate funding for something that someone feels is an inappropriate use of their money if I can stop it.”

Pickens said the definition of the word “art” is different for everyone.

“I’m not in the position to quantify or qualify what art is,” Pickens said. “That’s why I voted for it.”

Pickens said he isn’t sure why the county supports YAC, other than it’s something that’s gone on for several years.

“I feel like it’s a good program,” he said. “I know they have their own fundraising mechanism, but it’s like the dog shelter — it’s a part of the community we need to support.”

Morgan said he’s always supported the arts community and plans on continuing to do so.

Sockwell, Oliphant and Morgan were voted out of office during the primary and runoff elections this summer, while Blackmon and Pickens still have November’s election to contend with, with Pickens facing Independent candidate John Davis and Republican candidate Bill Plunk. Blackmon faces Independent candidate Joanne Wilkinson.

Reversal of decision

According to state statute, the new incoming board is not obligated to follow whatever the old board has voted on. If the future supervisors choose, they can bring the discussion back to the table and reverse the vote to grant the appropriation to YAC.

Blackmon said he based his decision to revisit Monday’s vote to cut funding on “some things he’d heard” that he didn’t think were appropriate, but he failed to mention the “Scratch and Sniff” show by name.

“No one came today and talked to us and there are some things I’m unclear on,” Blackmon said. “I’d be happy to talk to (Wayne Andrews, director of the Arts Council) and we can go from there.”

It took only a short time for the word about the supervisors’ decision to spread.

Andrews said $15,000 is a significant amount of money for any organization to lose.

“It will cause us to re-evaluate our budget and will have an impact on the community programs we run all year, such as free art camps for children, art classes for adults, dance classes, classes for seniors — we run 320 days of art programs a year.”

Andrews said he didn’t expect the county to judge the Arts Council so harshly, considering the controversial show was moved to another location. Sockwell said the show was only moved after being “forced” by Patterson.

Making the move

“That’s not true,” Andrews said. “Once we received some feedback, and we talked to the artist, she agreed she did not want her art to jeopardize what the Arts Council provides to the community. She was more than happy to take the show somewhere else to relieve that burden. No one was forced to do anything.”

Andrews said he can respect the opinions of others who weren’t thrilled with Fields’ show, but one art show that was originally planned to be in the back room of the Powerhouse, versus 320 days of programming that is suitable for all ages, should balance things out.

“I think the Arts Council reflects the entire community,” Andrews said. “I respect everyone who elected to say the show was not for them. It’s how we can judge what type of shows to bring to the community is by the community feedback.”

Andrews said he had not heard from any of the supervisors in regards to the art show prior to Monday’s vote.

“They’ve always been very supportive,” he said.

After hearing about the supervisor’s decision, Fields said she was disappointed.

“It makes me very sad to hear that news,” she said.


Local Celebs Serve Diners this Thursday

9 Aug

According to an article by Alyssa Schnugg in today’s Oxford Eagle, “Local celebrities will take orders, serve customers and entertain for tips Thursday during the American Cancer Society’s Celebrity Waiter fundraiser. The event will be held at The Ravine at the cost of $60 a person for a three-course meal. Several seating times are available, starting at 6 p.m. Local celebrities who have agreed to be waiters and waitresses include Sam and Mary Haskell, author Neil White, University of Mississippi tennis coach Billy Chadwick, actress Joey Lauren Adams and former NFL football player Todd Wade.”

Seats are still available. If you’re interested, tickets can be purchased through any of the celebrity waiters or by contacting Kate Rosson, community representative for the ACS, at 662-801-0340 or via email at kate.rosson@cancer.org.

How Green Are You?

21 Apr

By now I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s been Green Week since Monday here in Oxford. Time to take stock of your impact on the environment. This means more than recycling a couple of cans and magazines; it also comes down to what you’re eating and where you’re obtaining your food. How often do you shop the Farmer’s Market? How much meat do you eat in any given week?

The Farmer’s Market, which is in full swing again, is a great place to start your shopping. Stocking up on fruits and vegetables that are in season and fresh from the grower is one of the best ways to buy local and support your community while being earth-friendly. There are also a multitude of farms in the area where you can find additional produce, dairy and meat before resorting to the large grocery stores that have products shipped in from across the country. Check out the site FarmtoMenu.com to find out about local farms and the Oxford restaurants that support them.

Melanie Addington had a very informative article in the Oxford Eagle on Monday about eating green. Something as simple as cutting down on the amount of animal products we eat can reduce methane gas emissions, hundreds of gallons of water and many other harmful gases that are produced with animal-based agriculture. Meg Shannon, who organizes monthly vegetarian potlucks, says that giving up even one pound of beef saves as much water as if you stopped showering for six months!

Some Oxford restaurants have started offering meat-free options, but many still haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. If you’re attempting to have a meat-free night out (perhaps to support Green Week), you’re often left with the choice of french fries and salad (hold the bacon). I believe that savvy restaurateurs who include enticing meat-free options when putting together their menus reap the rewards from that decision. There are more vegetarians and “part-time vegetarians” in Oxford than many realize.

If you’re looking to celebrate Green Week by avoiding meat for a meal or two, some restaurants that are already offering meat-free options include:

  • Yocona in Exile (the rotating menu always includes a vegetarian option)
  • Honey Bee Bakery (daily menu always features an herbivore soup and entree option)
  • Taqueria el Milagro (menu has a vegetarian section)
  • Boure (mushroom melt – lunch)
  • Tallulah’s Kitchen (black bean burger)
  • Ravine (vegetarian pasta of the day)
  • Waltz on the Square (baked ziti)
  • The Bungalow (portabella sandwich)
  • Red House (ultimate grilled cheese)
  • Frank & Marlee’s (veggie burger)
  • Newk’s (tomato basil soup and pizzas)
  • Oby’s (veggie po-boy and wrap)
  • Bangkok Thai (several options)
  • Two Stick (several options)
  • Kabuki (several options)
  • Maharaja Indian Cuisine (many options)
  • Turkuaz Cafe (falafel)
  • The Deli News (The Appeal)
  • Blind Pig (vegetarian po-boy)
  • Parrish’s (black bean wrap)
  • Taylor’s Pub (black bean chipotle veggie burger)
  • Mink’s On the Park (The Southern Star)

For more information on Green Week, check out the dedicated website here.

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