Back in business: Ellerbe men able to reapply for licenses

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Previous coverage
* Oct. 16: Authorities shut down Ellerbe businesses

ELLERBE — Though charges of selling alcohol and spirits without a permit are still working their way through Richmond County District Court, Ellerbe businessmen Derious Junior Covington and Tyree Gilmore are eligible to reapply for their privilege, or business, licenses as soon as Town Hall opens Tuesday, Mayor Lee Berry said.

Derious Junior Covington

Derious Junior Covington

Berry made the announcement after a 17-minute executive session with Town Council members and town attorney Bill Webb.

“Both parties are welcome to reapply tomorrow,” Berry said. “I will review the license (applications). When you come by tomorrow to reapply, you will be presented with outstanding tax that is owed to the city.”

Upon payment of the tax and completion and review of the license application, Berry offered nothing else that would stand in the way of the two businesses from reopening. At that point, “you will be able to open back up.”

Berry and town officials have appeared torn since Oct. 10, when Richmond County sheriff’s deputies and members of North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement executed search warrants for D’s Place, 4024 Main St., owned by Covington, and an Internet cafe at 2052 Main St., owned by Gilmore.

A confidential informant was able to purchase beer or spirits from both locations, authorities said. That was probable cause for a search warrant. Upon execution, police seized liquor, beer and spirits valued at $1,277 from D’s Place. Covington was charged with possession and selling of alcoholic beverages without a permit, a misdemeanor, and unlawfully possessing or consuming wine, spirituous liquor or mixed beverages

On its business and privilege license issued by the town of Ellerbe, the business was to be operated as a game room with pool tables and video game consoles.

Tyrea Gilmore

Tyree Gilmore

At 2052 Main St., Tyrea Gilmore was listed as owner of Google Cafe, an Internet cafe in which customers were to bring their laptops and connect to the Internet via a Wi-Fi network. Authorized seized $159 worth of malt beverage from the cafe. Gilmore was charged with possession and selling of alcoholic beverages without a permit, a misdemeanor.

Both Covington and Gilmore apologized Monday night during the public meeting, though Covington’s apology came with a stern lecture that his nine-year-old business was grandfathered in with any new ordinances and that “you can’t make me move … if you go by the law and rules and regulations.”

“I’m grandfathered in,” Covington said. “You all cannot make me move. We innocent until we (proven) guilty.”

Covington said town businesses have previously been cited for similar issues but never before were the business licenses suspended. In addition, other business owners are committing crimes — felonies — and Covington indicated he felt singled out.

“If you have information that people are committing felonies,” said Webb, pointing to Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. in the audience, “I would request you have a meeting with Sheriff Clemmons so we can fairly and equally enforce the laws of this town. Will you tell us tonight you will meet with Sheriff Clemmons? Are you going to do that? We will try to treat everybody fairly.”

Covington indicated he would be willing to talk with Clemmons, who was present at the request of town officials to briefly explain what happened on Oct. 10. Clemmons said his office had received “several complaints” about both businesses.

Clemmons noted the case is still in court and that both sides had yet to “have their day in court.”

“My place tonight is just to inform the council … of the violations we found,” Clemmons said.

Gilmore said he wasn’t present the night the search warrant was executed at his business, but he apologized just the same.

“I was wrong,” Gilmore said. “I made a mistake. As far as anything else … I’ve always been respectful to my neighbors. I see people here. They know me. I’ve been working here in Ellerbe … going on five years (with a barber shop). I want to apologize to the town of Ellerbe just for making the mistake. I wasn’t trying to destroy Ellerbe. It was a situation that happened. I wish I could take it back.”

After the meeting, both Gilmore and Covington approached town officials to extend the authenticity of their apologies. Berry asked Gilmore to do better.

“You have my word,” Gilmore said.

In other Ellerbe news:

* The inaugural Farmers Day Parade 5K run/walk is set for 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22. Registration forms are now available at Town Hall and race-day registration begins at 7:30 a.m. The course will begin on town streets then head out Page Street and turn around at Marvin McCaskill Road.

* The Ellerbe Hometown Christmas is back, set for Dec. 4, after a one-year hiatus. The event will last from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and already, said Councilwoman Jean Fletcher, several Ellerbe-area businesses have signed on to support the event.

* The town’s zoning and ordinances, which have not been updated since 1972, will soon be so. The town agreed Monday to join with the Lumber River Council of Governments and pay the agency up to $7,500 to bring everything up to date and in compliance with state and federal laws. The town will be required to host a public hearing to consider and adopt the updated code of ordinances, zoning code and zoning map.

 

Filed in: Business, Ellerbe/Norman, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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  • Daffy

    Just look at what one of the business owners said. “I’m grandfathered in,” Covington said. “You all cannot make me move. We innocent until we (proven) guilty.”
    Covington said town businesses have previously been cited for similar issues but never before were the business licenses suspended. In addition, other business owners are committing crimes — felonies — and Covington indicated he felt singled out. Both Covington and Gilmore apologized Monday night during the public meeting, though Covington’s apology came with a stern lecture that his nine-year-old business was grandfathered in with any new ordinances and that “you can’t make me move … if you go by the law and rules and regulations.” Well there you go then. Never mind that you break the law. One can do it in a town that has very few businesses and it looks as if that towns leadership wont care. The towns leadership will be on it’s knees (so to speak) and will throw your licences at you. “Please, please take them”. Hum, don’t believe me? Ok, read all that has been written,posted and quoted here in the Pee Dee post and in the Daily Journal (concerning this matter) from the powers that be of Ellerbe. I hope Ellerbe will take some time and give real attention and thought to re-issuing or renewing permits and license to anyone at any time.

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