By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher
The Eutaw City Council held a Special Meeting at Noon on Thursday, September 21, 2023. Much of the meeting, including a 38-minute executive session, was devoted to a discussion of the actions of Mayor Latasha Johnson and the Eutaw Police Department in closing down an after-party held by the Dangerous Divas Social and Savings Club, after Class Day on Saturday September 16th, at the Robert H. Young Community Center, formerly known as Carver School.
The meeting was packed with members of the Dangerous Divas and their supporters, many of whom had attended Class Day and the beginnings of the afterparty.
The Dangerous Divas, a social and savings club with a membership of 13 local young women, had secured a contract for the use of the field behind Carver School for outdoor activities during the day, like bar-be-ques, and the use of the gymnasium for the after-party that night. The contract does not allow for the sale and serving of alcoholic beverages unless a special permit is secured from the state ABC Board.
Kelvia Hunter, President of the Dangerous Divas, in a telephone interview said, “We were never told about needing a special permit to serve alcohol. If we knew this, we would have gotten the proper permits.” Hunter did say that alcohol was served at the party, that there was a ten-dollar admission fee to the after-party, which entitled the attendee to free drinks. She also indicated that there were off-duty police security at the door, who were instructed to deny admission to anyone under the 21-year drinking age in Alabama.
Hunter asserted, “The Mayor knew we were serving alcohol, because we have had six prior events at the same place, under the same rules, without an ABC permit. We also put out on social media our admission charge and that drinks were included. The mayor knew what was happening, but she still stopped our after-party without giving us any explanation.”
Mayor Johnson said, “I ended the party because liquor was being served. I saw children and others under the age of 21 attending the party. They invited the high school graduating classes of 2022 and 2023, who are all below the drinking age. We also had four ambulance runs for people who got sick at the field program and a police report of an altercation between young men, who had guns. This situation was just too dangerous, and our police force was undermanned for the large crowd. We just had to stop the party before it got out of hand and endangered the people there and others in our city.”
Mayor Johnson said, “The City dropped the ball, we should have more clearly explained the rental contract and rules for the sale and serving of alcohol. We accept some of the responsibility for the problems at this event, but we feel the Dangerous Divas must also take responsibility for their mistakes connected to this event. We must learn from this for future events to be hosted at the city owned community center.”
At the City Council meeting, when the issue came up, a resolution was adopted to return the $1,150 contract fee to the Dangerous Divas, due to the misunderstandings concerning the event. Ms. Kelvia Hunter said, “ Our organization lost much more than the contract fee and we want to be reimbursed for all of our losses.”
In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:
• Approved participation in the 2024 Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday, February 23-25, 2024.
• Received financial reports from Financial Consultant, Ralph Liverman, concerning USDA water system accounts at Citizens Trust Bank.
• Tabled action on lending the city’s street sweep to Aliceville for a day to clean the streets prior to an event.
• Approved travel for staff to attend the APCO Conference at Perdido Beach on November 15-18, 2023.
• Moved several items dealing with City vehicles, credit cards, rental agreements for use of the Robert H. Young Community Center and other matters to a Council Work Session to be held in October.
• Approved payment of bills for September.