Police keep tally of problems at South Pittsburg bar

Police keep tally of problems at South Pittsburg bar

July 20th, 2011 by By Ryan Lewis/Correspondent in News

The Good Times bar on Cedar Avenue in South Pittsburg, Tenn., is attracting the attention of local police, who say a number of arrests and fights have been reported there. Photo by Ryan Lewis

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. - Officials say the problems at a local bar are getting increasingly worse, and South Pittsburg police Chief Dale Winters said he wants something done before someone gets seriously hurt or killed.

Winters said he began keeping track in January of "everything going on" at Good Times on Cedar Avenue.

"As of July 10, we've had 12 reports there," he said. "We've had several arrests, and several fights have broken out there. Some are assaults that aren't reported until the very next day."

The capacity of the bar is only 40 people, Winters said, but "some nights there are up to 70 people, and you can't even get through [the building]."

"What I want to do is try and put a halt to this and bring [the owner] in front of the beer board," he said. "Let them have a hearing before it gets any worse down there. Somebody is going to get seriously hurt or killed."

Sherman Byrd, owner and manager of the bar, has called police several times and requested a "walk-through" in hopes of thinning out the crowd, officials said.

Repeated efforts to contact Byrd were unsuccessful.

"He's the owner of the establishment," Winters said. "If he can't control the establishment, why have it? If he can't control the crowd, why have it? My main concern is the public."

Police Sgt. Paul West said Good Times is in violation of many fire codes when it's in operation, and he's trying to contact the state fire marshal for help.

"One of the problems we're having is, when they have these parties, they advertise them on Facebook," he said. "There are people coming in from Chattanooga, Nashville and Atlanta, and they're outlaws. The violence is getting worse at that place, and it spills over outside."

Winters said there was at least one incident in which minors were served beer at Good Times, and officers said they detected the smell of marijuana during a recent walk-through.

City Attorney Tracy Wooden said the town will need to investigate before it decides whether to take action against the bar.

"There are several avenues we can pursue," he said. "I think we need to give some thought to this outside the city meeting. There may be ordinance violations or a zoning violation. There may be substances being used there that are illegal. We just need to investigate through the city planner and involve the City Council, as well. I think it would be inappropriate to take an action [at this time]."

South Pittsburg Mayor Mike Killian said there might not be as much of a problem with the bar if it wasn't for the size of the crowds that sometimes show up there.

"The facility is not big enough, I'd say, but we're going to open up [an investigation]," he said.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.