Monday, May 21, 2018
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Pastor starts Facebook account to discuss new alcohol sale hours

Petition drive to put on ballot may follow.

The Rev. Rick Rehmert of the Evangelical Free Church believes there’s more to the story of extended hours for people to buy and consume alcohol.

Last month, the Gothenburg City Council increased hours for bars, restaurants and stores to sell alcohol.

The measure, which extends hours Monday through Saturday to 6-1 a.m. and noon-10 p.m. Sunday, went into effect on May 11.

“We need to know what we are risking,” Rehmert said.

As a result, Rehmert has created “Community Conversations”—an account on Facebook where people can talk about or share research on the issue.

Anyone interested in chatting about it can find the account on Facebook and request to become a member.

“It’s important as a community to have such a discussion, to have groups talking to each other and challenging each other with information,” Rehmert said. “So we can all come to the table knowing what is best.”

After allowing for a few weeks of discussion on the site, Rehmert said he and others will survey the community to see what members think about increased hours to sell alcohol.

A petition to put the question on a ballot for local voters to decide the matter may be started by the end of June, he said.

Through the Facebook account, Rehmert said members can learn from other people’s experiences in communities with extended hours.

“We don’t have to follow everyone else,” he said in reference to the Nebraska Legislature’s decision to allow communities to decide whether to stay open until 2 a.m.

Council members denied a local request to remain open that long.

Rehmert said he thinks the council did what it felt it had to do but said he offers an opportunity for more information to be shared on the topic.

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