Mayor, bar owners discuss problems

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 16, 2008

NATCHEZ — Downtown bar owners sat with Mayor Jake Middleton Wednesday afternoon to discuss problems that crop up with bar goers.

Aside from litter and loud noises on the street caused by people coming and going, a problem that was discussed was public urination.

Bobby Derrick, owner of Doc Biglove’s, said he can’t understand why people would do that.

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“There’s nothing in the world that fires me up more,” he said. “It matters to me what goes on, not just within my wall, but on the streets.

“The blatant disrespect bothers me.”

John Holyoak, general manager at Bowie’s Tavern, said he knows it’s happening and he’s seen it before.

Middleton was also in concurrence with the acts that are blighting the downtown streets.

Though all these things — noises, litter and using the street as a restroom — all compound into a big problem that needs a solution, finding it is a difficult task.

It was discussed by each bar owner how it is difficult to control people once they leave the bar.

Owners may try to prevent people from leaving the bar with drinks in hand, but they’ll sneak it out in their pockets or purses.

Owners may clean up trash as much as they can and make a wide sweep, but litter will still crop its way up.

One solution that was discussed was to have a stronger police force and stringent consequences.

“The police have to be less tolerant and more reactive,” Holyoak said. “Right now it seems like there are no consequences.”

Middleton said it would be helpful to have police on foot patrol instead of just cruising the streets looking for indiscretions.

Also, he said surveillance cameras will be installed slowly but surely.

“We’re fixing to put cameras up — they’re coming,” he said.

Middleton said he wants to find a cure-all solution eventually, but right now things need to move slowly.

It was decided that the first step should be to make signs for bars to display in the front window.

These signs would detail what the bars are not willing to tolerate — leaving with a drink, litter, public urination, etc. — and list the fine to go along with it.

Darrell Cox, owner of Dimples, said money is one of the best ways to reach people.

“You hit a person in their pocket, then you start seeing things come down,” he said.

The owners and the mayor will continue to meet to discuss potential solutions and will next meet to discuss what they would like the signs to look like.