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Commissioners appoint county ABC board

Henderson County now has an ABC board. Whether it has a new liquor store may take a while.

The Board of Commissioners on Wednesday appointed the five-member board and, in a split vote, named a chairman.
The members are Beau Waddell of Laurel Park, nominated by Bill O'Connor; Patricia Ferguson Jones of Hendersonville, nominated by Mike Edney; George Erwin of Fletcher, nominated by Charlie Messer; Rick Holbert, nominated by Tommy Thompson; and Rick Livingston of Mills River, nominated by Larry Young.
All but Erwin, whose name was not submitted until later, had passed a background check conducted by the county attorney's office.
For the board chairman O'Connor nominated Waddell, vice president of Reaben Oil Co. and Triangle Stop Food Stores. Messer, a longtime ally of Erwin, nominated the former sheriff as chairman. The board chose Waddell, with Messer and Edney voting for Erwin.
The establishment of the ABC board came the day after the director of the state ABC Commission cautioned against an oversupply of liquor stores, saying new ones often cannibalize existing stores. An ABC board must obtain financing, the official said. The money does not come from the county.

The commissioners have made no commitment to build a store. They said they want a strong business-oriented board to guide the process and make sure the enterprise is profitable.
"They're going to have to gather a business plan," said Chairman Tommy Thompson. "Bottom line is it's a business and it's going to have to make money."
Young said he opposed merging a county board with an existing board from Hendersonville, Fletcher or Laurel Park, which all have liquor stores.
"I do think we need to form our own board until we get our stores in place and get our organization in place," he said. "Later on we may want to look at combining with other ABC boards. We need to have our own board rather than be associated with another ABC board."