Adult arcade will not reopen in county seat

A Columbiana businesswoman’s recent attempt to reopen an adult video arcade received no help from the Columbiana City Council.

A request from Barbara Whitehead that Gran’s Fun Time be allowed to reopen while the legality of such arcades remains pending, failed at the council’s Sept. 3 meeting.

Gran’s Fun Time, which pays off in coupons not greater than $5 in value, is considered illegal in Shelby County.

When Mayor Allan Lowe called for a motion to bring the matter to a vote, the council remained silent and the issue died.

Columbiana City Attorney Conrad Fowler Jr. told the City Council that he had been assured the District Attorney’s office in Shelby County will take whatever steps necessary to halt such businesses whether in the county or in the city.

Shelby County Chief Assistant District Attorney Bill Bostick said the position of the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office is that the adult video arcades which payoff in something of value are illegal.

&uot;If a business (adult video arcade) were to open up, licensed or not, we would seize the machines and have them destroyed,&uot; he said.

While Bostick said there is a case pending in the Alabama Supreme Court, he said the law in Alabama is clear that adult video arcades are illegal.

Bostick also said a lawsuit against Shelby County District Attorney Robby Owen for shutting down the arcades was heard on its merit and that Gran’s Fun Time and several other plaintiffs lost.

Bostick said Judge Michael Joiner ruled that he was not going to prevent the district attorney from enforcing an enforceable law.

According to Bostick, the case was first ruled upon in April 2002. A motion to rehear the case was filed on May 1. But when the plaintiffs failed to appear on June 10, the case was dismissed.

Whitehead said she would not go against the city. However, she asked about a refund of the license fee. Mayor Lowe said the city would check with the League of Municipalities and give her an answer.

City Clerk Terry Collum said she conducted a survey of other city clerks on email. She reported the majority said they did not refund money unless their ordinance stated they could on the basis of going out of business in less than a year.

&uot;Our ordinance does not state that,&uot; Collum said.

At this point, she said, the decision to refund the $255 license will be left to the City Council.

Collum said when Gran’s Fun Time purchased its license, the company was made aware action was pending to make such arcades illegal but chose to purchase the license anyway.

In other matters, the council:

Unanimously approved an upgrade in the network computer system at city hall at a cost of $1,425. The work will be done by City Tech. The upgrade became necessary due to a computer failure and outdated parts.

Approved a no cost grant application for the Police Department through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

In return for the Dell Computer, software, the Police Department must agree to request from other law enforcement agencies and the NCMEC to assist in research for the location and recovery of missing children.

As Mayor Lowe’s wife, Scarlott,

is seeking donations for training in connection with the program, Lowe abstained from the vote.

Unanimously approved a pay increase for Willie Johnson from $10.33 to $10.88 an hour.

Unanimously approved the appointment of Jimmy Davis Sr. and Brenda Nash to the Downtown Revitalization Advisory Committee and Edmund Boie to the Beautification Board.

Approved a transfer from the Gas Account in the amount of $3,900.84 to ballpark construction ($151.92) and the city portion of park and recreation ($3,748.92).

Approved a transfer from the General Fund for library expenditures in the amount of $1,877.86