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Meda's Tavern might be shut down

September 27, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

A downtown bar that police say has been the scene of drug deals should be shut down, the Board of License Commissioners said in a letter delivered by hand to Meda's Tavern last week.

Meda's, which reopened Sept. 1 after a month-long suspension because of a previous license board ruling, has the right to appeal the decision, according to the letter.

"In light of the fact that the Board has sanctioned Meda's Tavern previously this year for allowing illegal drug transactions to occur on the premises, as well as for the violation of selling alcohol to minors," the board ordered that the establishment's license be revoked Saturday after 12:01 a.m., according to the letter.

On Tuesday night, as a handful of people nursed their drinks, Charles Lowry, the president of the bar corporation on the liquor license, said he is hoping that Melvin Staley, who runs the bar, will appeal the ruling.

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"We've got rid of a lot of the bad people in here," said Lowry, who tends bar during the day. "You can see how business is in here - slim to none."

Staley could not be reached for comment Tuesday. According to tax records, Vincent Groh owns the building at 24 E. Franklin St.

Lowry and license commission chairman Robert L. Everhart both said Tuesday they did not know whether Staley would appeal.

During a license board hearing Sept. 13, Washington County Narcotics Task Force agents testified that a confidential police informant participated in controlled buys of crack cocaine and marijuana in and around the tavern several times in May and June.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said Monday he welcomed the decision to revoke the bar's liquor license.

"I think it's going to have an impact on drugs, I think it's going to have an impact on crime," Smith said. "It's really going to have an impact on how that first block of Franklin looks and the standard of conduct down there."

At the hearing earlier this month, Staley said he had paid someone to inform and "get the kingpin and all his cronies," The Herald-Mail reported.

"I've done everything I can to" stop the drug activity, Staley said.

On Tuesday, signs prohibiting fighting, loitering and cellphones hung among advertisements for beer.

"Fighting will not be tolerated. Selling drugs will result to your arrest," one sign warned.

A stranger at the bar was carded within minutes of walking in the door.

Lowry acknowledged the bar has had trouble "on and off," but he contended the bartenders' power to prevent drug activity is limited.

"The way the (narcotics) task force told us they were bringing it in here, what are we supposed to do ... ask them to drop their pants?" Lowry asked.

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