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Gloom Hits Sunnyside

A family-run convenience store has found itself in the middle of a neighborhood controversy about whether ending its beer and wine sales would improve the community.

Roanoke, Va., police officers and Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents targeted the Sunnyside Market after noticing a high number of alcohol-related arrests in the area. They've made 41 from April 2001 to mid-February, according to the The Roanoke (Va.) Times.

Police charged store owner Virginia Leffel with selling alcohol to an intoxicated person on June 22. On Oct. 6, police watching the store from a state police van charged Leffel with two counts of selling alcohol to an intoxicated person. They also made four arrests, two for possession of alcohol by a minor and two for being drunk in public.

Although all criminal charges against Leffel were dismissed, officials will still consider the June 22 incident as an administrative violation against the store's alcoholic beverage license, and a hearing is being scheduled, the report said.

The hearing judge will look for overwhelming evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt as in criminal proceedings. If the violation is found to be warranted, Leffel could be fined and the store's license could be suspended or revoked. The store has had a beer and wine license since 1982.

"We went 20 years without a violation, and all of a sudden it started," Leffel said.
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