County sheriff asks for stricter nightclub guidance
by Paisley Boston
May 06, 2014 | 2788 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nightclub hours remain an issue in the county.

Sheriff Kelvin Williams is urging the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors to adopt an ordinance that requires nightclubs to be closed by 1 a.m.

This issue was introduced during the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday.

Williams said he has met with several mayors and police chiefs within the county and they are willing to jump on board with the rule.

"I would like the board of supervisors to adopt something or put in writing that clubs are suppose to close at 1 a.m. Municipalities have the authority to enforce rules such as this. Municipalities are allowed to come up with their own time as to when clubs close," said Williams.

"The board of supervisors are also allowed to make rules such as this outside of the municipality," he added.

Williams said there has been a number crimes occurring around nightclubs and some of them are alcohol related.

"I think that by us enforcing these rules and establishing a time as to when clubs close, then we will be able to save lives," he added.

"I feel that if we take the lead in establishing the hours then these rules can be enforced and the municipalities will follow the lead. Right now, there are some places that close at 1 a.m. and there are some places that close at 2 a.m.—we don’t want this," continued Williams.

He said there should be no sell of alcohol or beer on the premises of nightclubs after a certain time.

"It was my understanding that clubs were suppose to close at 1 a.m. I recommend that all clubs be closed at 1 a.m. Right now it seems as though club owners close whenever they desire," continued Williams.

Williams said there was a previous ordinance established by members of the board in July 1996 that said beer and alcohol sells had to cease one hour before the closing of clubs.

Although Williams believes this rule is important, Supervisor Preston Billings strongly disagrees.

"This is a pretty heavy issue and it is going to require a lot of time. This issue has been going on for 100 years. Every sheriff in Bolivar County has presented this matter. Every time something comes up, it is going to landslide and goes back to the same thing. I do not support this rule and I am certain that the municipalities in my district will not support it either," said Billings.

"There are a lot of stipulations to the rules that the sheriff is trying to establish. This situation is a little sticky," he added.

"This has always been a problem. We need to be mindful because by us enforcing this rule, that does not mean that individuals are going to stop doing certain things," continued Billings.

In the county, bar owners are allowed to sell alcohol until 1 a.m. and patrons have until 2 a.m. to leave the premises.

Under the state statute, the Mississippi Department of Revenue states that alcohol sales are to cease between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.

The hours for on-premises sales of beer are 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

Through local ordinance, municipal or county governments may further restrict, but not extend, the hours for on-premises sales of beer.

If the hours for selling alcoholic beverages are extended, then the hours for beer sales are extended to the same hours of sale as alcoholic beverages for that community or resort area.

"I feel that is it very important to enact this rule because there have been a lot of things occurring due to excessive alcohol use," said Williams.

Supervisor James McBride said that the current ordinance pertaining to nightclubs and alcohol sell says that all clubs stopping the sell of alcohol at 12 a.m. and close at 1 a.m. but according to Williams the ordinance does not state specifically when clubs should close.

"We can only set the hours for the unincorporated areas. We cannot set the hours for the municipalities," said McBride.

After much debate, a motion was made to table the issue for further review.