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Alcohol-ban lawsuit headed to Supreme Court

JACKSON — Pike County and the owners of inner tube rental companies will square off before the Mississippi Supreme Court March 30 in an ongoing dispute over a ban of sale of alcohol on heavily used stretches of the Bogue Chitto River and Topisaw Creek.

The county enacted the ban in 2008 after local authorities and residents complained of numerous instances of public drunkenness, fighting, nudity and underage drinking among floating enthusiasts along the popular waterways.

Ronnie Perry of Gator’s Tubing and Wendy Ryals of Dogwood Tube Rental challenged the county ordinance, arguing their businesses were hurt by the ban.

In defending the ordinance, the county cited hundreds of arrests made on the river for alcohol-related offenses, along with numerous injuries and several fatalities. Law enforcement officials contended problems virtually ceased since the ban was enacted.

Circuit Judge David Strong upheld the alcohol ban in Aug. 2008.

Supervisors said they had wide latitude in restricting sale of beer and prohibiting consumption on public property.

The ordinance applies to the Bogue Chitto River from Holmesville to the Bogue Chitto Water Park and Topisaw Creek from Leatherwood Road to the Bogue Chitto River.

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