During the Legislative session of 1935, it became apparent that many sections of the State were dissatisfied with North Carolina’s then existing prohibition law known as the Turlington Act.
Sensing a widespread demand for some change in the law, the 1935 Legislature, in its closing days, authorized the Governor to appoint a commission to study the question of control of alcoholic beverages and to make a report to the 1937 General Assembly.
After repeal of the Federal Prohibition Act (Eighteenth Amendment), South Carolina, bordering North Carolina on the south for 324 miles, had legalized the sale of liquor under what is known as the State Licensing system. Virginia, bounding North Carolina on the north for 312 miles had also legalized the sale of liquor under what was known as the State Monopoly system. Thus, had North Carolina had no control stores at all, South Carolina and Virginia would have provided stores where liquor could be purchased legally within fifty miles of approximately two-thirds of the population of North Carolina. Only a small percentage of the people of North Carolina, probably fewer than fifteen percent, were living more than fifty miles from a store in which whiskey could be purchased legally. It became obvious to many people that effective prohibition of alcoholic beverages in North Carolina was a thing of the past.
It was felt that the Monopoly system more nearly tended to eliminate liquor control from politics and to emphasize social welfare rather than revenue or profits. On May 11, 1935 House Bill 1491 was ratified by the General Assembly of North Carolina. This Bill allowed County Commissioners to call an election to let voters express themselves on whether the sale of spirituous liquor would be authorized in the counties or municipalities throughout North Carolina.
The town of Banner Elk established the first ABC store in Avery County in the late 1970’s. Seven Devils and Sugar Mountain followed with elections held in the early 1990’s. The three towns had ABC stores less than one mile apart from each other. The three towns came together to merge the three systems together as High Country Municipal ABC in 1998. The High Country ABC Store provides profit distributions to each of three towns.
The ABC Board is comprised of one board member and one alternate board member form each town. Each board member is appointed by their respective towns and serves a three-year term. High Country ABC employs a full-time General Manager who oversees the day to day operations of the store. the High Country ABC Board meets the third Thursday of each month at 4:15 pm.
Donna Dicks, Chairperson
Winston Ammann, Member
Anne Fontain, Member
Robin Dunn, Alternate Member
Leigh Sasse, Alternate Member
David Miller, Alternate Member
North Carolina General Statute Chapter 18-B requires that an ABC Board expend at least 5% of its profits for ABC local law enforcement. Each board has an option to hire an ABC Law Enforcement Officer or contract for ABC Law Enforcement with the local law enforcement agency. High Country ABC employs Orrie Smith as their local law enforcement.