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Tempers boil over after peanut meeting

Future murky for vendors

POSTED: March 24, 2010 4:00 a.m.

Tempers flared Monday when rival peanut salesmen showed up at the Dawsonville City Council meeting looking to set the record straight on their dealings downtown.

  

Councilmen listened while the vendors explained the personal economic importance of selling their goods to passers-by.

  

In the end, it all boiled down to one thing. Peanut peddlers in the historic district may have to find someplace else to go.

  

While the city council took no vote, a decision could come April 5.

  

It does not appear, however, that local codes allow for the roadside merchants.

  

City Attorney Kevin Tallant said Dawsonville officials could consider granting a “peddler’s license” to those looking to continue business.

  

A peddler’s license would be temporary, lasting less than two weeks at a time.

For one peanut seller, that could spell disaster.

  

“This money I make here, selling peanuts, it helps me make my house payment and buy my groceries,” said Jimmy Seagraves of Dawson County.

  

Ronnie Hester, who pushes peanuts across the road from Seagraves, agreed.

  

“It’s my livelihood,” Hester said.

  

After five years of local business, Hester said he’s decided that selling in the historic district “is good for the community.”

  

“It’s historical ... boiled peanuts are,”  he said.

  

Hester then explained an ongoing quarrel between himself and Seagraves.

  

“Jimmy actually came to me at the Kangaroo one time and asked me for advice on where to sell peanuts,” Hester said. “And then the next thing I know I could’ve thrown a rock at him across the street without missing.”

  

Added Hester: “I tried to tell him, this ain’t Burger King and McDonald’s. You can’t butt heads with me on something like this.”

  

Prior to the meeting, Mayor Joe Lane Cox warned the men about “name calling.”

  

“I want you to tell these councilmen why you want to sell the peanuts, and let’s leave it at that,” Cox said. “I don’t want to hear none of this, ‘He said he was going to whoop me’ business.”

  

Seagraves said he aimed to be “a positive influence for Dawsonville.”

  

“I try to be a good ambassador for this city,” he said.

  

Hester said the people who frequent his stand “really love Dawsonville, and love boiled peanuts.”

  

“I’ve had no bad comments,” he said.

  

County resident Carrie Kelley spoke on the sale of peanuts.

  

“I’ve ate boiled peanuts all my life in North Georgia,” she said. “And from what I can see, the operations up here seem to be professional and clean. The peanuts here are very good peanuts.”

  

Following the council work session, the rival salesmen traded words in the parking lot. Both men left visibly upset.

  

Council could discuss the final fate of the roadside vendors at its next meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. April 5 at city hall.

 

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