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County votes no on Soggy Bottom licenses

After weeks of discussion, a public hearing and a closed session, the Covington County Commission voted to deny a liquor and private club license to the owner of the Soggy Bottom Tavern.

A group of concerned citizens petitioned to keep the bar closed. The bar had been closed since June 2018 after a man was shot in the chest and died at the bar.

The residents who spoke against the bar re-opening said they were concerned for the safety and well-being of the community around the bar location.

Residents cited a lot of ruckus in the community during the time the bar was open and said since the bar closed, those incidents ceased to exist.

At the last meeting of September, club owner Jimmy Myrick spoke to defend his club and speak against allegations made by petitioners.

Myrick told commissioners that he had purchased some $100,000 in fire suppression equipment and that he would put into place a certified security team.

On Tuesday, the commission voted to deny the licenses.

District 4 Commissioner Kyle Adams, who represents the area in which the club is located, made the motion to deny the request.

“Based on the photos and call logs, I felt it contradicted testimony given by Mr. Myrick and Mr. Crittenden,” he said.

Adams said the club is a safety issue for the homeowners in the area.

District 3 Commissioner Tony Holmes seconded the motion.

Resident Buster Boyd interrupted the meeting saying that he requested to speak in the public comments section of the meeting, but was not placed on the agenda. He told the commission he had legitimate concerns about the executive session that was held in order for the commission to see evidence related to the criminal investigation of the murder that took place last June at the club.

Alabama Open Meetings Law allows for public boards to enter into closed session to discuss certain issues. The law is specific.

Attorney Stephanie Cotton said they used the ninth provision under the law that says, “To deliberate and discuss evidence or testimony presented during a public or contested case hearing and vote upon the outcome of the proceeding or hearing if the governmental body is acting in the capacity of a quasi-judicial body, and either votes upon its decision in an open meeting or issues a written decision which may be appealed to a hearing officer, an administrative board, court, or other body which has the authority to conduct a hearing or appeal of the matter which is open to the public.”

The county elected to vote in open meeting on Tuesday.