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Oktibbeha County may pursue nightclub closing time law

 

Carl Smith

 

Oktibbeha County sheriff's deputies could ask for new rules limiting nightclub's operating hours, a move similar to one approved by Lowndes County last year. 

 

OCSD Commander Brett Watson confirmed the department would discuss the matter at a 9 a.m. press conference today with family members of 18-year old Zacharias Blanchard, who was one of five people injured in a Sunday shooting at Club Rock. Blanchard was still receiving critical care in Jackson for his wounds Wednesday. 

 

Comments from today's press conference were unavailable due to press times. Deputies and Blanchard's family members were expected to plea for public assistance in locating a shooting suspect. 

 

Few details have emerged from the investigation, Watson previously told The Dispatch. Although numerous people were present in the facility and near the crime scene, Club Rock's parking lot, many said they did not hear or see anything that morning, he said. 

 

Four others injured in the shooting were treated and subsequently released from area hospitals. 

 

Reports of nefarious activities at the club have drawn the ire of OCSD representatives in recent years, as Watson confirmed deputies are accustomed with being dispatched to the area. 

 

County supervisors voted in 2011 to seek a temporary injunction against the nightclub after police and fire representatives said the business was a safety hazard. In December of that year, then-Sheriff Dolph Bryan played a video to supervisors that documented the chaotic moments after the venue's crowd, panicked by gunfire, attempted to flee in unison through a half-blocked exit.  

 

Supervisors agreed to develop an ordinance regulating capacity and enforcing safety codes at venues that do not have alcohol licenses, but tougher rules did not come to fruition. 

 

Lowndes County supervisors approved a 1 a.m. end to nightclub operations in August with a rule that also applies to community, recreation, convention and multi-purpose centers serving alcohol and providing activities, including live music and dancing. Restaurants and bars that provide such entertainment during any portion of its operation were also reined in by the ordinance. 

 

The rule came to fruition after Lowndes County Sheriff Mike Arledge lobbied supervisors for stiffer regulations due to littering, public intoxication, disorderly conduct and code-compliance issues. 

 

District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery said he would support any request made by Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney.  

 

"He's the expert on this. If our deputies are basically going out there for calls every time a large event is held, then that's basically forcing the taxpayers to support public security for a private business," Montgomery said. "It's time we take a look at this issue." 

 

"Club Rock is an every-weekend problem," District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard told The Dispatch in 2011.

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

 

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