Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 12, 2014

Community Connections opposes beer sales at Bowen

BLUEFIELD — The executive director of the local family resource network for Mercer County is voicing opposition to planned beer sales at upcoming Bluefield Blue Jays games at Bowen Field.

“We had seen the article in the newspaper and we were unaware a decision was being made to sell alcohol at Bowen Field,” Greg Puckett, executive director of Community Connections, said. “In our line of work, we are continually looking at the environment in which people live in and work and play in. So we are very concerned, and somewhat disappointed, that Bluefield will be having sales of alcohol this year.”

Puckett said children attend the baseball games, and will be exposed to alcohol. He said Bowen Field also is located directly adjacent to Lotito Park and the popular Yakity Yak playground for children — posing additional risks.

“I have been to Charleston, and the West Virginia Power games, and they sell alcohol,” Puckett said. “But those are large metropolitan areas. They are not the community-based environment we typically find in the Appalachian League. We don’t feel it (beer) promotes the right family-style environment for our community.”

Puckett said he called George McGongle, president of Bluefield Baseball, Inc., Wednesday afternoon to formally express Community Connection’s opposition to the beer sales.

In a press release announcing the beer sales, Blue Jays General Manager Jeff Gray said the decision to reintroduce beer came after many requests from fans. He said the majority of Minor League teams already sell beer. Gray said there will be a designated beer garden area, and fans will also be allowed to drink in selected seating locations.

Puckett said Community Connections is still encouraging area families to attend all of the upcoming Blue Jay games, but simply not to purchase alcohol.

“It’s a wrong message we are going to send to our young people,” Puckett said of the beer sales. “This is a generational effect, and something that will affect them long term.”

Puckett said Community Connections is continually looking for ways to bring additional resources into the community and to help children and families.

“We have a grant that will start in July that is going to be the last of the monies for enforcing underage drinking laws,” Puckett said. “We are going to look in light of this situation, and encourage the organization to promote responsibility. We are going to promote cards that say do not give alcohol to minors. This is a big problem. If you look at statistics over 60 percent of people say they get alcohol from friends and family of legal age.”

The first home game of the Blue Jays will be June 19 at Bowen Field.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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