Fort Deposit Council holds hearing/revokes Skyy Boxx Bar and Grill business license

Published 2:26 pm Friday, March 3, 2017

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By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

After hearing from the owner and manager of Skyy Boxx Bar and Grill in Fort Deposit and testimony from citizens and law enforcement officials, the Fort Deposit Town Council voted to revoke the business license of the Skyy Box Bar and Grill last Thursday night, March 2.

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However, according to attorney J. McGowin Williamson of Greenville, who represented the owner/manager, the decision will be appealed to Lowndes County Circuit Court.

The decision to revoke the business license was made at a special called meeting of Fort Deposit Town Hall that included a hearing on the matter.

The action to revoke came on a motion by Darrell Heartsill, which was seconded by Randy Adams.

It was approved with Heartsill, Adams, Mayor Fletcher Fountain, Jacqulyn D. Boone and Stacy Derrico voting in favor and Donnie Hunter abstained.

Following the vote, Keith Bailey, who was identified as the owner and manager of the Skyy Boxx, said the decision by the council was “absolutely wrong.”

He said, “They were absolutely atrocious. No laws have been broken. No rules have been broken. The only business in town running a legit business… Everybody else business out here they done broke the law. It’s actually in writing. So, for them to do that (revoke his business license) is totally wrong.”

According to Lowndes County Circuit Court documents a restraining order issued by Lowndes County Circuit Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell against Fort Deposit was to “remain in effect until the Town Council issues its decision relative the plaintiff’s business license or permission to sell alcoholic beverage.” However, it continued, “Once the Town Council issues its decision, the temporary restraining order shall be null and void.”

During the hearing, Fort Deposit Town Attorney Arlene M. Richardson showed the council video of girls at Skyy Boxx Bar and Grill participating in twerking contest.

She said the video on Facebook had been viewed 70,000 plus times on Facebook and that one of the girls “looks extremely young.”

Richardson acknowledged, however, the actual age of the girl in the video was unknown.

A man identified as Tori Dozier said made the videos that were posted on his own and that he does not get paid for them.

Richardson also showed a photo to the council in which she said 111 individuals were counted at the Skyy Boxx Bar and Grill in a building which she said was made to hold 40 people.

She presented incident reports where she said police were called to the Skyy Boxx Bar and Grill including a domestic violence report, a reckless endangerment report about a shotgun fired in the air, tires slashed in the parking lot, and two complaints made to the ABC Board alleging that minors were allowed into the bar, also alleging gambling, selling alcohol to minors and dealing drugs in the bar.

Richardson also showed the council that the ABC Board License listed the capacity of the Skyy Boxx Bar and Grill building at 40 people.

During the hearing citizens came forward to complain about loud music and hearing gunshots from the location surrounded by residences.

One man said, “If you shoot in the air, you don’t know where it is going to come down.”

There was also information from a lady and a video of large crowds alleged to have come from the Skyy Boxx to the Chevron Station off Interstate 65.

The woman also said a man alleged pulled his pants down at the station and was dancing.

Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jeremy Marvin discussed incidents reports pertaining to the Skyy Boxx. However, he said, “None of our reports pertain to the Skyy Boxx itself, as far as on its property, but incidents that we were called out for were due to the crowd leaving the Skyy Boxx.”

He said one of the reports included assault in the second degree, a felony, unlawful breaking and entering a vehicle, a felony, menacing, a misdemeanor but involved a handgun, assault in the third and theft of the property in fourth degree, both misdemeanors.

Marvin said the subjects involved were identified and charges were brought against them.

He also said he received a call from the owner of the Chevron, who expressed serious concern that no action was taken to close the Skyy Boxx and that he would hate to shut his store down.

Marvin said as a resident of Fort Deposit, he is all for someone having a legitimate business including clubs and restaurants if “the club operates the way it should operate.”

He said he had seen problems like this before and that he worked six years for the Montgomery Police Department. He said, “I can almost guarantee you that every time we started having problems like this with specific clubs in Montgomery, the council shut them down.”

One man said the Skyy Boxx has nothing to do the Chevron.

Another man identified as Robert Sellers, said just hearing a gunshot, one could not say it came from the Skyy Boxx. He said there was only one shooting incident where someone shot in the ground. He also said Skyy Boxx had no control of the Chevron Station.

Sellers said there were no reports of anything happening in the Skyy Boxx. He said the ABC Board came out and “everything was legit.”

Fort Deposit Police Chief Terry Steiner said his police department has been short staffed. But he said a call referenced by Marvin has been cleared by a Fort Deposit police officer before a sheriff’s deputy ever arrived.

He said, “I am not aware of any deputy answered that call.”

Steiner said it could take the Sheriff’s Office 45 minutes to respond from White Hall to Fort Deposit and that he has taken it upon himself to work day and night shifts to correct breaking and entering at night.

He said, it was hard for the Fort Deposit Police Department to hire anyone at $13 an hour.

Bailey answered questions from both his attorney Williamson and Richardson.

Bailey was asked by attorney Williamson, “Have you been present when the police, sheriff or anybody has come to make any arrest at the Skyy Boxx? To your knowledge has any arrest been made of anybody?

He responded, “No arrest has ever been made at the Skyy Boxx.” He said, “No arrest, no ticket, no fine, nor warning, citation, nothing.”

He was asked if the Skyy Boxx had been cited by Fire Department for improper occupancy, to which he replied, “No, sir.”

He was asked if he received a citation from the ABC Board relative to service of minors or any other violation of the sale of alcohol there at the Skyy Boxx, to which he replied, “No, sir.”

When asked if they had checked, he said, “Yes, they have.”

Bailey said two females under the age of 21 were found in the bar, but that was not illegal. He said they have to be 21 to be served alcohol.

He explained that everyone’s ID is checked at the door. He said, “If you are over 21 they put a bracelet on your arm that actually states, over 21. If you are under 21, you do not get a bracelet. So, if you come to the bar to purchase alcohol but their bracelet fell off or not, if you do not have a bracelet you will not get served.”

He said he has two security personnel who work inside and outside.

Bailey also said he would be willing to work with any rules or regulations.

Under cross examination by Richardson, Bailey told Richardson that he was the owner and manager of the Skyy Boxx.

When she asked why he did not apply for the liquor license himself, he replied that it was because he had two businesses already.

When asked by Richardson if it was not because he had a felony conviction, he said, he had “two or three.”

When Richardson asked if he knew that he could not apply for a liquor license if he had a felony conviction, he replied, “If I did I would get it expunged and I would still get a license.”

Bailey also responded that Shenika Sellers was both his girlfriend and wife.

Richardson later told the Signal, “The owner on the alcohol license is Shenika Sellers – Keith Bailey’s “girlfriend/wife.”

Richardson said, “She (Sellers) stated on the application that she was the ‘only person, in any manner interested in the business sought to be licensed.’  The ABC license also requires that she disclose whether an ‘officer, member or partner has been charged with (whether convicted or not) of any law violations.’”

Richardson said, “Keith Bailey has been convicted of more than one felony… He is the ‘manager’ as he stated and he runs the business. Therefore, her (Sellers’) statements on the license application are not true.”

Bailey told the council, “Y’all don’t have a reason to shut me down. I haven’t broken no laws, haven’t broken no rules, no regulations. I ain’t got a fine, ticket, citation, warning or anything. The only thing y’all are saying is loud music.”

He went on to name other stores in Fort Deposit he alleged were cited for breaking the law including sale of alcohol and cigarettes to under age kids.

However, he said, “Y’all are sitting up here trying to shut me down because of assumptions.”