Rules put teen clubs on the spot

Spurred by a double shooting at Club Platinum earlier this month, the Augusta Commission approved a set of ordinances Tuesday tightening oversight of teen clubs.


The new rules require proprietors to appear at public hearings before opening, rather than just filing forms and paying fees to the License and Inspection Department. Now they'll have to go before the commission, where neighbors, police and others can speak out. If trouble erupts at the clubs or in clubs' parking lots, the ordinances lay out a formal process for putting them on probation and suspending and revoking business licenses.

"These ordinances might have made a difference, might not have made a difference," Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who proposed them, said of the Club Platinum shootings.

On Feb. 7, a fight broke out inside the club off North Leg Road between rival gangs, Harrisburg Posse and Southside Boyz, Sheriff Ronnie Strength said. The groups were asked to leave, then gunfire broke out in the parking lot and two people were shot.

Sheriff Strength said there have been five shootings and one homicide at the club since December 2006, and the commission twice put it on 90-days probation. With some contention, the commission voted 6-3-1 to revoke Club Platinum's license Tuesday, with J.R. Hatney, Calvin Holland and Corey Johnson opposed and Betty Beard abstaining.

License holders Warren Johnson and Rakeim McMorris gave License and Inspection Director Rob Sherman a letter saying they wanted to voluntarily surrender their license because they couldn't come up with a solution to the crime problem.

Commissioner Don Grantham pushed for the license to be revoked so the owners would be barred from reapplying for at least a year. Mr. Holland asked that the club's license be suspended for six months, saying what happened Feb. 7 wasn't the owners' fault and that the trouble started in another parking lot and spilled into theirs.

His motion failed 4-6, with Joe Bowles, Mr. Brigham, Mr. Grantham, Joe Jackson, Alvin Mason and Jimmy Smith opposed.

"It's not him, it's the people that he attracts," Mr. Bowles, who has Club Platinum in his district, said of Mr. McMorris. "And I wouldn't wish this on any citizen of the county in their districts."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or


On Tuesday:

- City Administrator Fred Russell gave commissioners an update on ongoing construction projects funded by the special-purpose sales tax. The new library is 20 percent finished, with a June 2010 target completion date; the judicial center is 3 percent finished with a December 2010 target completion date and the Webster Detention Center project is 4 percent complete with an August 2010 target completion date, Mr. Russell said. As for the Reynolds Street trade, exhibit and event center, pre-design work is 75 percent finished and the operating agreement is still being worked out. Mr. Russell said the TEE center's target completion date is August 2011.

- During a discussion of President Obama's stimulus package, Commissioner Don Grantham pointed out that of the 77-project, $417 million wish list of infrastructure projects that the city submitted to the state Department of Transportation, it has said it will recommend four for stimulus funds. The four projects total about $23 million, and one is the widening of Alexander Drive and its improved link-up to River Watch Parkway, Mr. Grantham said.