Burnet County tables bar hours request due to wording

Burnet County Courthouse

Hieroglyphics on the west and east entrances of the Burnet County Courthouse placed by its architect, Milton Wirtz, depict nine scenes of the county’s heritage and economy. However, nothing around the courthouse explains their history or message. Commissioners voted July 23 to pursue purchasing and erecting a plaque that explains the artwork to visitors. Staff photo by Jared Fields

STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS

A vote to extend a Bertram-area bar’s hours was put on hold during the Burnet County Commissioners Court’s regular meeting July 23.

It’s unclear how a vote held Tuesday would have gone, but commissioners took no action on the agenda item so they could address its wording.

The item specified the business’s name and wasn’t clear if any action taken would affect all businesses in unincorporated areas of Burnet County.

County Judge James Oakley said the item would be on the agenda at the next regular meeting, which is August 13, but worded more clearly.

The request came from Hometown Watering Hole owner Brian Lynch, who operates the business just east of Bertram’s city limits.

“I’m losing a lot of money to Llano and Cedar Park. I do have to close at midnight (Fridays) and one o’clock (Saturdays),” Lynch told commissioners.

He would like to stay open until 2AM each night.

“The buzz (from customers) is: ‘It’s 10:30, so let’s leave,’” he said.

A business that sells alcohol for on-site consumption in the unincorporated areas of Burnet County currently can stay open until midnight on weekdays and 1AM on Saturdays. Lynch said he was asking the county to change its ordinance to reflect what other area counties and cities already have.

If the commissioners approve the measure, it would extend hours for all bars in the unincorporated areas of the county, not just for Lynch’s business.

This has come before Commissioners Court in the past. In December 2017, commissioners voted 3-2 against a similar item. Oakley and Precinct 3 Commissioner Billy Wall voted for the measure. Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther Jr., Precinct 2 Commissioner Russell Graeter, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery voted against it.

Like he did in 2017, Dockery spoke July 23 against changing the hours.

“It puts people on the road late at night who have been consuming alcohol, sometimes large amounts,” Dockery said. “It unduly endangers members of the public.”

At the meeting, Sheriff Calvin Boyd said his opinion was that such a change to the hours of operation would “not make a huge difference.”

“The argument is that Llano County is open to two (in the morning), and so is Williamson County,” Boyd said. “They’re going to drive through anyway.”

In other items on the agenda:

• Commissioners voted to move the polling location for Precinct 2 out of the Burnet County Courthouse and to the Extension Office auditorium. The move will take effect during early voting in October and Election Day in November. Commissioners discussed ways to communicate to the public who have used the courthouse location in the past. According to Elections Administrator Doug Ferguson, 5,199 people voted at the courthouse during the last election’s early voting period.

• Commissioners voted to erect a plaque outside the courthouse that deciphers the hieroglyphic bas relief art on the east and west entrances of the courthouse. Money from the county’s tourism fund would be used for the plaque, Oakley said. The art was put there by the courthouse’s architect, Milton Wirtz, when it was completed in 1937.

• Herb Darling, director of Development Services, briefed commissioners on the county’s risk for fire. Darling asked commissioners to consider enacting a burn ban at the next regular meeting.

• Commissioners Court will hold a special meeting at 9AM on July 26. The next regular meeting is August 13.

jared@thepicayune.com

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