Poplarville board wants “pool hall” ordinance

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, April 19, 2012

The board of aldermen voted 4-1 on Tuesday, requesting city attorney Martin Travis Smith to draw up an ordinance that will allow teenagers to frequent what has been termed a “pool hall,” but supporters of the establishment claim it’s actually a game room. Earlier this month, a controversy over charges made by several individuals that city police threatened to shut down a game room, or what some termed a pool hall, which contains four pool tables, prompted a news story on WLOX-TV and, according to news reports, a petition of about 250 signatures supporting the establishment earlier this month. News reports said that the petition was presented to the board, but no petition has been presented in open session to the board as of Tuesday’s meeting. Police Chief Charles Fazende said the game room, or pool hall, caught the attention of city police when one patron of the establishment told police investigators that a teenager had pulled a pistol on him during a dispute at the establishment. The game room, with four pool tables in it, is attached to Logans Quick Stop at the corner of old Highway 26 and U.S. Highway 11. The room has video and other games in it besides the pool tables, thus causing the problem of classifying it either as a game room or pool hall. Teenagers who frequent the establishment say they do so because there is nothing else to do in town. Poplarville is the county seat of Pearl River County. The issue came up at the April 3 board meeting, but any discussion of the issue was tabled until Tuesday so police involved in the matter could be present to give their side of the story. Two people concerned with the issue attended the April 3 board session, but no one associated with the quick stop was present on Tuesday. At the April 3 meeting, Joe Currie attended, and identified himself as the unpaid manager of the game room. Police captain James Steinkamp said he talked to the owners of the business, told them that under state law no one under 18 was allowed in what was defined as a pool hall, and told the board that the establishment came up on the radar when an adult who frequented the place told police a teenager had pulled a pistol on him during a dispute at the establishment. Steinkamp said he gave a copy of the state law to the manager. He mentioned nothing about any statement that police wanted to shut down the establishment. Smith told the board that a state law requires that teens under the age of 18 not be allowed to frequent what is defined as a pool hall. However, he said the state law does allow municipalities to draft their own ordinance covering the issue and allows local ordinances to set the age-limit lower than 18. Aldermen directed Smith to set the minimum age at 16. Alderman Bill Winborn was the only alderman to vote against the request, and although he would not say why he was against it, he said after the meeting that he will also vote against any finalized version of the ordinance if presented to the board. Voting for the request were aldermen Johnny Sherman, Shirley Wiltshire, Byron Wells and Dr. John A. Grant, Jr. Grant also suggested that the owners of the quick stop be directed to clean up around the place. Grant said it was looking “trashy.” The issue was listed as Item 12 on the agenda as a “citizen complaint.” The agenda listed the quick stop’s address as 105 U.S. Hwy. 11 South.

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