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Tavern gets some support

March 08, 1999

Bar meetingBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - More than 100 Chambersburg residents, most from the south end of town where city officials say drugs reign, turned out Monday night to talk about closing a tavern one city councilman called a magnet for drugs and violent crime.

Just last week a local man was shot to death in the doorway of Dave's Tavern at the corner of West Catherine and South Main Street. It was the second fatal shooting in the vicinity of the tavern in 18 months, said a neighbor who lives a few houses down from the tavern. She wants the tavern closed.

According to police, Drake Luckett, 34, of 217 Linden Ave., was fatally shot at 10:42 p.m. on March 1. Police have charged Timothy J. Ross, 25, of 280 Miller St., Chambersburg, with criminal homicide in the case. Witnesses told police the two men had been arguing.

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Monday's meeting at Chambersburg's Recreation Center was called by The Rev. W. Larry Johnson who represents the Third Ward, which includes the Catherine Street area, on the Borough Council.

Johnson said he wants the tavern closed. "Enough is enough," he told the crowd. "It's a magnet for crimes and drugs."

While Johnson got some support, not everyone present wanted the bar closed, including Borough Police Chief Michael DeFrank and several of Johnson's council colleagues.

DeFrank said the police department is not in the business of closing bars. Only the courts can close liquor establishments, he said.

"Don't look for anything to happen for six months to a year," he said.

Councilman Carl Helman, who also represents the Third Ward, said he didn't know if the tavern met the requirements of the borough's nuisance ordinance.

"But I still have to ask myself why there is more drug activity on the corner of Catherine and Main than on any corner in the borough," he said.

Second Ward Councilman Thomas Newcomer said the bar shouldn't be closed. "I've been in there. It's a nice little bar. The people inside are friendly and they behave themselves," he said.

Newcomer also sided with residents who think the borough police department should not have closed its substation across the street from the bar. They said the police presence kept criminal activity down.

The station moved a few blocks over to the Southgate Mall because the lease ran out, DeFrank said. "We are still a presence on Catherine Street," he said.

Dave's Tavern was crowded but quiet shortly before 6 p.m. Monday.

Patron Cleveland Pinnock called the bar a quiet, friendly place. "Anybody can kill somebody anyplace. There's no trouble inside this bar. It all happens outside," he said.

"We all get along very well in here. The trouble is on the street, not in here," said Dean Clark.

"I know these people are very frustrated. I'm very frustrated," said Ronald L. Kanner, owner of Dave's Tavern. "I don't feel that I'm being targeted here. They (police and council members) don't know what to do and I don't know, either. These are all good people here. They aren't the problem."

Kanner said people in the neighborhood need a place where they can go. "If I see people causing problems I move them right out," he said.

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