Probation for Club Platinum, plus more Commission business

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, March 18, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Club Platinum is the latest addition to a long list of clubs now on probation after a string of violence. It's a vote that could cost the popular teen night spot more than just a temporary headache. Normally, it would open at 10 P.M. and close at 2 A.M. But the Augusta commission has placed the club on a 90 day probation. It means the club must now close at 11:30 P.M. and have at least 4 security guards at all times.

"We're asking them not only to lose additional dollars, but we're asking them to spend more money on deputies who don't want to come in the first place," said commissioner Alvin Mason after club owners expressed difficulty in booking security in the past.

It sparked a heated debate on the Commission. Mason brought up Club 1102. You may remember a violent beating outside the bar left one man in the hospital. One of the bar's co-owners is charged in that case. 1102's punishment was 90 days probation. Mason says the commission is not playing fair because 1102's hours of business were not restricted.

"From an economical standpoint it hasn't been a fair motion when we look at the treatment that some other clubs have received when we know that they had a direct responsibility for the beat down of a patron," said Mason.

District 7 commissioner Jerry Brigham fired back. He said, "It had one incident....not a dozen, not 15, not incident." Commissioners took the side of Commissioner Brigham. A 6 to 3 vote sealed the deal.

"Most of our people don't get there until about 11 or 11:30 P.M. so for our club to close in an hour and a half is pretty much closing us down for good," said the club's owner.

This all comes after several crimes in the club's parking lot...including a recent shooting.

Now talking downtown...Local and not-so-local people will soon get help finding their way around. "Way-finding" signs are going to start popping up around the city in April. The Augusta Convention and Visitor's Bureau is looking to put up 17 new signs and banners. It's part of a three phase -- $240,000 project -- that federal grants and private donations are paying for. The Augusta commission also voted unanimously to move forward with "Gateway" signs as well. They would be positioned at the city's major entry points.

"A lot of times smaller cities do better jobs than big cities in putting up welcome signs and making people feel welcome. It is important because it's the first impression that somebody gets when they come into your community," said Barry White who is president of the visitor's bureau.

Now, to the dogs. It's official. The Augusta commission gave park and recs the go ahead to bring an off leash dog park to Augusta. The location...the botanical gardens.

City parks and rec will make Sundays from noon to 4 playtime for the dogs. Opening day...the Sunday before masters.

And then, there is John Butler. He took on commissioner Don Grantham with his extreme make-over campaign. Today he was appointed to the Housing and Economic Development Citizens Advisory Board.

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