By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore City Council members voted unanimously during their Monday, January 11, meeting to allow The Event Zone, a local banquet and party hall, to continue operations, providing that no alcoholic beverages are consumed on the premises and no exotic dancers perform during events held there.
The issue was discussed at length by the city’s governing body during a pre-meeting workshop. City Attorney Larry Wettermark, who pointed out that the establishment’s license is up for renewal, said he would help the license holder, Shaterame McNeal, obtain a permit that would allow those attending Event Zone functions to bring their own beer, wine or liquor.
“You have two choices,” Wettermark told council members. “If you vote to revoke her license, she can’t operate until she gets a new license. If she comes in and says she wants to hold events with no alcohol whatsoever, then she’s consistent with her current license and it’s up to you if you want to give her a second chance.”
Mayor Jim Staff noted that the council’s decision wouldn’t affect just The Event Zone, but any group staging any event in the city at which alcohol will be made available.
“She has to meet the right criteria,” said the mayor. “Of course, she’s not the only one who will have to do it. Pride of Atmore will have to get an ABC license; all those folks who are going to actually have alcohol at an event will have to have an ABC license. That’s going to take the monkey off our back and put it on the state, where it should be.”
City Clerk Becca Smith expressed her feelings that an all-out effort should be made to make sure Ms. McNeal knows what steps she can take to resolve the ongoing problem.
“I don’t have a vote, but I think it should be made known that there is an attempt for her to be allowed to get a license that will work for everyone,” Smith said.
Wettermark replied that he would, without charge to the business owner, “help her find the right kind of license if she wants alcohol, and we’ll go to the ABC Board and see what kind she needs from them.”
Newly elected District 3 Councilwoman Eunice Johnson spoke in favor of the second-chance offer, as did District 5’s Chris Harrison and District 2’s Jerome Webster.
“This needs to be resolved,” Johnson said. “It’s been going on too long already. We don’t need to say, ‘that’s it;’ we need to at least give her a chance.”
When the issue came up for action during the meeting, there was no further discussion among council members, nor were there any comments from any of the more than two dozen people in attendance.