ELIZABETHTON — After hearing from each of the six candidates on Thursday night, the Elizabethton City Council awarded the first three certificates to operate a liquor store to Elizabethton dentist Bill Armstrong, Johnson City business owners Billy and Terry Chappell, and local business partners Carl Ray Nidiffer and Charles G. Bridges.
Council took the votes after the public was allowed to express support or opposition for each candidate. No statements of opposition were made, but several citizens spoke in favor of a particular candidate and one man spoke in favor of three.
The vote was taken for each of the three certificates. Armstrong was the only candidate nominated for the first certificate and he received a 5-0 vote, with Council members Nancy Alsup and Richard Tester abstaining.
For the second certificate, Chappell and the father and son partnership of Donald Wilcox and Shane Donald Wilcox were nominated. Prior to the vote, Council member Jeff Treadway said he felt too much weight was placed on the candidates’ financial condition. “Then the rich get richer and there is no opportunity for others,” Treadway said.
The vote was then taken with Mayor Curt Alexander, Mayor Pro Tem Bill Carter, and members Bob Cable and Tester voting for Chappell. Treadway and Sam Shipley voted for Wicox. Alsup again abstained. The Chappells were then awarded the second certificate.
The final certificate became a three-way race. Nidiffer and Bridges, Wilcox and Wilcox, and Roy Hyder, owner of the Sunshine Markets, were each nominated.
Cable, Tester, Carter and Alexander again formed a majority to give the final certificate to Nidiffer and Bridges. Shipley voted for Wilcox and Treadway voted for Hyder. Alsup again abstained.
Armstrong plans to do business as East Side Liquor and Wines, with a location at 1201 Highway 19E Bypass. Chappell would operate his Lighthouse Wine and Liquor in the shopping center he owns at 1933 W. Elk Ave. Nidiffer and Bridges would operate Doe River Wine and Spirits in Bridges’ former restaurant, Bridges Cafe at 630 Broad St.
The council’s decision is only the first hurdle for the successful applicants. They must now meet the requirements of the state before they will receive a permit to operate a liquor store.