In the wake of three shooting deaths at Wings Café, a Macon-Bibb County committee voted unanimously Tuesday to ask Municipal Court for a review of the club’s liquor license.
The Public Safety Committee endorsed a resolution from Commissioners Al Tillman and Virgil Watkins, which invoked a code provision that allows a license to be revoked if there are several criminal incidents at a location in a year.
The Dec. 12 multiple shooting, which also left three injured and has brought several arrests, was one of more than 70 police calls to the Bloomfield Drive nightspot in its three-year history, Watkins said.
The resolution would give the owner of Wings a chance to defend his business before a judge.
“Here today, we’re not making any determination on his status. We’re asking for an investigation and a hearing to take place,” he said.
Commissioner Elaine Lucas said she thought more public discussion should be held instead, and she worried that the owner of Wings could claim selective prosecution.
“I think we’re misdirecting our efforts,” she said. Lucas said the community should be invited to a discussion on violence at the Macon-Bibb County Government Center.
Commissioner Bert Bivins and Mayor Robert Reichert said those things aren’t mutually exclusive.
Keith Moffett, the E-911 director, said he wanted to speak on behalf of one family affected by the Wings shooting. Security video from the scene shows numerous guns in use, he said.
“I think that makes the city liable, because we know that the business has lost control,” Moffett said. Macon-Bibb could be held responsible for inaction if nothing is done, he said.
The resolution, along with the other items that passed committee Tuesday, will likely be back for a final vote by the full commission Jan. 6.
Steam Locomotive 509 may move from its 58-year stay in Central City Park and get some amelioration of its recent deterioration.
Though there was no formal vote Tuesday, commissioners asked the county attorney’s office to prepare papers for a “permanent loan” of the historic engine and tender to the Georgia State Railway Museum in Savannah.
Terry Koller of the Coastal Heritage Society, director of operations at the museum, said the museum long ago offered to take the engine and shelter it -- but had no money for the actual move or for any restoration work.
“Fortunately, in the last couple of weeks, that’s changed,” Koller said. A private donor in Savannah has pledged $70,000 to move engine 509 and do some basic restoration work so it won’t decay further.
In May 2011, Macon agreed to lease the engine and attached coal tender to Hartwell Railroad Co. for 30 years at $1 per year. In exchange, the Bowersville company offered to rebuild the locomotive as an excursion train for use mostly on its north Georgia lines, with discounted trips to Macon residents at least twice a year.
“They never did quite follow through,” Reichert said. Workers for Hartwell removed asbestos and cut off a number of metal parts, but that left the rest exposed to the weather.
When the three-year mark passed May 11, 2014, without any action, Macon-Bibb asked for the parts back. They were returned about four months ago.
Reichert said something must be done to keep the rest of the engine from corroding beyond repair.
Koller said it would take about $250,000 to do a full “aesthetic” restoration of the engine, and cost $1.8 million to $2 million to get it back in running condition.
Some downtown streets will be closed at various times Jan. 2-13 for a movie, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore told commissioners.
Garden Films Productions LLC will shoot some scenes for “The Fifth Wave” around Cotton Avenue and Second Street. Much of the filming will be done at night Jan. 6-12.
The company has met with area residents and property owners to discuss the impact of the closures, he said. The work is expected to bring more than $400,000 to the local economy.
A map of the scheduled street closings can be seen online at bibbgis.co.bibb.ga.us/5thWaveRds.
A long wrangle over the time taken to build a fire station on Donnan Road in east Macon-Bibb ended with a request from Lucas for legislation to reaffirm the plan and appropriate money for equipping it.
Fire Chief Marvin Riggins said the plans are done, and the government owns the land. But while money was set aside in the special purpose local option sales tax for fully equipping other new stations, the one planned for Donnan Road is funded by a previous bond issue -- and that only covers the land and building, Reichert said. It will take about $500,000 for equipment and more to pay firefighters, he said.
Lucas contended that the project has languished while fire stations elsewhere were rushed ahead.
“Why are y’all against the folks in east Bibb getting a fire station?” she said.
Reichert said there was no intention to delay the station, but there was a limited amount of money available.
Commissioner Gary Bechtel is sponsoring an ordinance to remove churches from the list of entities that can’t have beer or wine sales within 300 feet. The others are schools, libraries and alcoholism treatment centers. The change would bring the Macon-Bibb ordinance in line with state law, he said.
The Food Depot on Northside Drive ran afoul of the existing rule because of a nearby church in a strip mall, he said. The ministry has written a letter offering no objection to the change. The ordinance passed committee by a unanimous vote.
A request to expand the consulting contract for Mainline Information Systems of Tallahassee, Florida, passed unanimously. The company is already working on Macon-Bibb computer systems, but a new contract would pay $99,000 more for help on the mainframe serving the courts, sheriff and jail.
If the years-old system crashes, it could lose much data and take months to repair, according to a memo from Information Technology Director Stephen Masteller.
Northeast Concrete Co. of Macon is expected to get $79,923.50 for paving Liberty Church and Sofkee roads and building sidewalks near Graham Road. One-quarter of the money will come from the SPLOST and will pay for the paving work. The rest, for the sidewalks, is to come from an annual transportation grant.
Commissioners responded to Fort Hawkins’ request for $6,000, but added $1,000 for the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission at the request of Commissioner Elaine Lucas, chairwoman of the MLK Commission.
The Fort Hawkins Commission and Macon-Bibb County Sister Cities program are both applying to become independent nonprofit agencies. Macon-Bibb commissioners have endorsed that effort, which is aimed at allowing those groups a greater range of fundraising.
But Fort Hawkins Commission Chairman Mike Cranford said the historic fort is out of money now, while nonprofit status will take a few months to formally achieve. He asked for $1,000 per month for the remaining six months of this fiscal year to pay Program Director Marty Willett, who operates the fort’s programs.
Lucas said she wouldn’t oppose the request, but thought it was setting a bad precedent. With that precedent set, she successfully sought to amend the request to also fund the MLK Commission.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.