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Complaints aired over lodge parties

The City Council heard from the police chief and a Masonic lodge member before deciding to reschedule the nuisance hearing.

The City Council heard from the police chief and a Masonic lodge member before deciding to reschedule the nuisance hearing.

November 21, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A nuisance hearing concerning a local lodge, which is occasionally rented out for parties, will be rescheduled after at least one City Council member expressed concerns because police have been called to nearly all parties held at the building.

The hearing, held before Martinsburg City Council members, was set for Wednesday night. It was rescheduled in part because Pastor Earl Hairston, who filed the formal complaint against the lodge, could not attend.

Before unanimously voting to reschedule the hearing, council members listened to lodge members and the police chief.

The building in question is the Mt. Pisgah Lodge at 619 W. Burke St. Owned by the local Masonic chapter, it is rented out to churches and individuals, said Lodge Secretary Clarence Creamer, who attended the hearing.

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Creamer said the lodge has been rented out eight or nine times this year. Police were called seven times, said Councilman Max Parkinson.

Police Chief Ted Anderson urged council members not to dismiss Hairston's complaint. Hairston is with Petra Worship Center, which is next to the lodge.

After complaints started surfacing around two years ago concerning the lodge, Anderson said lodge officials refused to meet with him. However, 20 or so people attended a meeting held at Hairston's church to voice complaints regarding the lodge, he said.

Creamer told council members he didn't meet with Anderson because no other lodge member would accompany him.

Complaints about the lodge include noise, alcohol use that ended up outside, and litter, Anderson said. At least one "viable neighbor" moved away because of the problems, he said.

Anderson said lodge members have not followed through with past promises to clean up the situation.

A blue cinder block building, the lodge's windows are boarded up. Creamer said groups that use it usually pay around $150, except for churches, which he said only pay for lighting.

A poster inside the lodge lists rules, including ones that say party-goers are not to stay late and must clean up. Alcohol is allowed, Creamer said.

"I can understand some of (Hairston's) complaints. The noise, the loud music," said lodge member Richard Burrell, speaking to council. "I personally will see that this thing doesn't happen again."

Council members also asked that, before the next hearing, city finance employees find out whether the lodge is paying all appropriate taxes.

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