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Local distillery asks lawmakers for help
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Several north Georgia legislators in town for the Georgia Mountain Region Commission's monthly meeting last Thursday were poised with a question when they toured the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery.

"What do we need to do to be able to sell bottles of our legal moonshine to tourists visiting the distillery?" said Dwight Bearden.

Dressed in his overalls and signature bucket hat, Bearden, the backwoods distiller responsible for making the first batches of legal moonshine in Dawsonville at the local distillery, said the ability to sell bottles of the spirits would be a big boon for the local business.

"We're just edging by the way it is now," he told Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, and Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega. "Being able to sell it here would for sure be a big help."

Current law took effect last year to allow visitors to sample up to a half ounce of spirits per person, per day when touring a distillery.

However, those who want to take a bottle of the liquor home with them must make the purchase away from the distillery at a retail package store.

"We've got to do something to help them out," Murphy said. "We'll talk about this over the summer to see if we can come up with some type of conclusion."

The senators were among nearly a dozen north Georgia lawmakers giving legislative updates during the commission's May meeting at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

As a former Lumpkin County commissioner who served on the GMRC board, Gooch called the group's monthly meetings and annual legislative updates a "homecoming."

"I represent eight counties in north Georgia, which five of them are here tonight, so it was good for me to see all the elected officials in one room," Gooch said. "This is a perfect opportunity for our legislators to be together with all the state representatives and county representatives, all in one room to talk, dialogue, build fellowship and just talk about issues. This is perfect for that occasion and we should probably do it more than once a year."

Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan said the group is always welcome.

"It is good to be able to display the hall of fame, the distillery and the most unique city hall in the state of Georgia, and probably in the United States," he said. "We had good representation from all of our legislative areas and we're just excited to have them here."

The Dawsonville City Council and board of education worked with the local county commissioners to host the dinner.

County Commission Chair Mike Berg agreed with Grogan.

"It's great that they are here. We always want them to come to Dawson and see what all we have here. I think they go away with a sense that we are one of 13 counties that do things right," he said.