Public Hearing to discuss alcoholic beverage license for American Legion Post 558 among topics at Sumter County BOC regular meeting

Published 3:07 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

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AMERICUS – At its June regular meeting on Tuesday, June 20, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners (BOC) held a public hearing to discuss whether or not American Legion Post 558 should be allowed to keep its alcoholic beverage license at its club amidst complaints of loud noises, fights in the parking lot outside its building and a recent fatal shooting that took place there.

According to Heather Tyler of the Sumter county Planning and Zoning Board (SCPZB), the SCPZB issued a cease and desist order of all operations at Post 558 in the wake of the shooting, but when Commissioner David Baldwin asked her if the legion could still use their building to conduct their business, she said that the order would be modified so that American Legion Post 558 could conduct its day-to-day business and that the cease and desist order was only for the sale of alcohol until the BOC makes its decision on the matter. Tyler stated that the SCPZB had been going through a large stack of complaints from the past three years and that they came up with 15 reports of guns being displayed in the parking lot outside the Post 558 building, shots being fired and vehicles being damaged. “There are two pages worth of fights alone,” Tyler told the BOC. She went on to say that there have been numerous reports of boisterous conduct and operating without control of the facility. She also said that there are three violations that are taking place at the facility at the moment and that due to all of this, she had to address it to the BOC, which she did at its work session On June 13.

“There is a lot going on out there that is dangerous to not only the patrons, but those who live in the houses around the facility,” Tyler told the BOC. “Noise complaints are coming from a mile down the road.”

Several members of Post 558 showed up at the meeting to express their support of keeping the alcoholic beverage license, including Post Commander Michael Terry.

“I don’t know what the violations are. I don’t have them. It wasn’t brought to my attention,” Terry said. He went on to say that last year, he sat down with Sheriff Eric Bryant and one of his deputies to discuss the 911 calls that were coming in regarding activity at the legion and what they can do going forward. Terry added that Post 558 has spent $3,000 on lighting and another $2,700 on a camera security system. Terry also stated that he was not told of any code violations and that if there were any, he should have been notified of them. Tyler relied that the code violations were served at the public hearing noticed and they were placed on the front door of the legion building.

Other members of American Legion Post 558 spoke on behalf of keeping the alcoholic beverage license. Once the public hearing was closed, Board Chairman Mark Waddell stated that the BOC has 10 days to make its decision on whether or not to allow American Legion Post 558 to keep its alcoholic beverage license.

In other news from the BOC’s regular meeting, Waddell stated that the had talked to Americus Mayor Lee Kinnamon regarding what the City of Americus plans to do regarding the Americus-Sumter County Tourism Council. Waddell added that he wants to get more clarity on what the City of Americus’s plans are in moving forward with this before the BOC takes any action. “He (Mayor Kinnamon) was under the impression that everything had already expired, but not based on what we have,” Waddell said.

In other Board appointments, Terrell Templin was unanimously reappointed to serve on the Americus-Sumter County Airport Authority. His current term expires on July 1, 2023. Commissioner Jim Reid made a motion for approval and Commissioner David Baldwin seconded the motion. The BOC Also voted unanimously to reappoint both David Austin and Cindy Pryor to the Zoning Board of Appeals. In the case of Austin’s reappointment, Commissioner Baldwin made a motion of approval and Commissioner Reid seconded the motion. In the case of Pryor’s reappointment, Commissioner Reid made a motion for approval and Commissioner Baldwin seconded the motion.

The BOC also approved unanimously the local share for the Wildlife Fence Project for the airport in the amount of $53,722.22. This will be paid after the other portion is paid by the City of Americus and the county’s portion will come from the TSPLOST. Commissioner Jesse Smith made a motion for approval and Commissioner Clay Jones seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the motion to approve passed unanimously.