Lounge owner - 'I'm bringing the girls back'

January 09, 1997


Staff Writer

WILLIAMSPORT - The owner of a lounge in Williamsport said Tuesday he plans to bring back exotic dancers by the end of the month despite an effort by a group of town ministers to block the form of entertainment here.

"I'm bringing the girls back," said Jack Harp, owner of Jack's Restaurant and Lounge at the corner of Potomac and Conococheague streets.

Harp said the dancers, which had been featured on Friday and Saturday nights, always drew a crowd. Business has been off since dancing ceased, he said.


"I only stopped it about three months ago, basically because the holidays were coming up, and a lot of the girls live out of town and wanted to be with their families," Harp said.

The lounge began featuring the dancers last summer, creating a furor among those who found the idea offensive.

A petition asking that the town enact a "morality law" was signed by 11 church ministers of the Williamsport Ministerium and delivered in mid-December to Mayor John Slayman, who read the letter on Monday at a Town Council work session.

Slayman and members of the council were reluctant to discuss the matter, saying they preferred to wait until it is reviewed by the town attorney.

In August, members of the council had asked that the town's zoning regulations be reviewed to determine if an amendment might be in order to block establishments from having exotic dancers.

The letter of petition signed by the 11 Williamsport area ministers said, "Immoral activities such as exotic or topless dancers which are listed as entertainment will lower the moral fiber of our community."

Harp said the furor puzzles him.

"I don't understand it," he said. "There was never any trouble here. The girls made money, and we made money."

The Rev. Greg Martin of Zion Lutheran Church said he and the other ministers want exotic dancing prohibited because "it's not the most appropriate thing for the community."

"The community has an obligation to provide an atmosphere that is healthy and wholesome. That activity does not contribute to that," said the Rev. James Swecker of Rehoboth United Methodist Church

The Rev. Mark Sandell of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, initiated the petition.

"Williamsport is a nice, quaint town, and we don't want our kids to walk down the street and see signs promoting this type of activity," Sandell said.

Other ministers who signed the petition included Debra Roberson of Rehoboth United Methodist Church, Brian Moore and Darryl Shanholtz of St. James Brethren Church, Richard Krall of Williamsport United Methodist Church, Loyal Vanderveer of Manor Church of the Brethren, Alfred Smith of St. Augustine Catholic Church, E. Reese Davis of Downsville Christian Church and Janice Dorsey of Downsville Church of the Brethren.

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