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Business owner appeals liquor license denial

A businessman appealed to the Troy City Council on Tuesday to reconsider his application for a lounge liquor license.

Antavione Ferguson, who represents Gold Mine Entertainment, was denied a license for his proposed business at 1177 U.S. 231 South on Sept. 22, with council members citing precedence and the location of the proposed business, which lies within police jurisdiction but outside of city limits.

“We do not have any lounge liquor licenses in the jurisdiction (outside city limits),” Mayor Jason Reeves said then.

“I’m asking you to give me a chance,” Ferguson said, explaining that he has 17 years of law enforcement experience and is committed to running his business “the right way.” Ferguson said he would provide video security and contract with law enforcement to provide additional security at the lounge, if necessary.

“Our polices and insurance  do not allow our law enforcement officers to work security anywhere where alcohol is being served,” Reeves said.

Jimmy King, who owns the building on the property, questioned the council’s motives and challenged them to “allow me to earn a living.”

“I am the owner of the building and I want to rent it out,” he said. “I want to know why I can’t rent it to him if I’m a taxpayer.”

The building has formerly housed nightclubs, including at one time the Hurt Brothers lounge.

Council President Marcus Paramore told King the council has no say in who rents the building, with Reeves explaining that the Alabama Beverage Control board does grant the council “say so over one type of business – a lounge liquor license.”

King also appealed to the council members to remove his business from city jurisdiction, allowing him to operate in the county.

No action was taken.

In other business on Tuesday, the council:

• Heard an update on the state of the workforce from Katie Thomas of Southeast Alabama Works, which oversees 10 counties, including Pike. “We’re trying to increase awareness and resources,” she told the council. “We’re working closely with our workforce partners across the state to provide information on available jobs and the workforce.”

Thomas cited some key factors for the region, including that more than 48,145 jobless claims have been filed since March 14. “But on Oct 5., when we last updated the report, we found more than 20,732 open jobs in the region,” she said.

The non-profit organization works with large and small businesses to provide information and support on workforce readiness, job opportunities and workforce development.

• Approved a corrective amendment to the power supply agreement with Exelon Generation Company LLC. The amendment added language to clarify that the city’s obligation to pay the power supply is subordinate to the city’s obligation to pay its debts. Reeves said the change was a housekeeping item recommended by legal counsel.

• Approved an information technology security assessment agreement for $7,750 to have a third-party contractor test and evaluate the security of the city’s networks. “We do this every year,” Bryan Chandler told the council.

• Extended the contract for services agreements with community agencies until evaluations of each agency can be completed and reviewed by the council. The council already approved funding for the agencies in the FY2021 budget, but Reeves said each agency will be evaluated by the council before renewing the contracts. “We hope to have that completed by the end of the year or January,” he said.