Seminole bars may ban patrons younger than 21

08/15/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Last night the Seminole City Council held a public hearing on an ordinance that would ban underage patrons from certain bars in the Pinellas County city of Seminole.

The ordinance would ban anyone younger than 21 from bars that have a capacity of more than 100 people. Two clubs – Page II on Park Boulevard and Boomerz on Seminole Boulevard - would be affected most.

Brian Morris, general manager of Boomerz, said the new ordinance, if approved, would affect his business considerably, and he thinks its wrong to signal out his club.

Boomers has had issues with Pinellas County officials in the past. Gunfire broke out at the club two years ago. Morris said that many local bands have members who are under 21, which naturally brings out many of their contemporaries.

Andrew Lightsey, 17, plays guitar with a band called the Dreadful Memories. He said Boomerz is his home venue, and a lot of the people who come to his shows are under 21.

But the ban on allowing minors into the two clubs in Seminole could affect other bands as well.

According to Seminole officials, the purpose of the proposal is to help keep down fights that occasionally occur, and to make certain that minors aren’t around alcohol.

But if that’s the case, Seminole needs to start banning teens from a lot of public places, says 16-year-old Sagan Reynolds.

But plenty of people spoke out Tuesday night in support of the proposed ordinance.

For 20-year-old Jessica Rasdall, it’s very personal, and painful.

Rasdall was driving home from a club in Ybor City in February of last year after a night of drinking when her Honda Civic veered off Interstate 275, flipped over and smashed a tree, killing her friend, Laura Gorman.

Last month when the Seminole City Council introduced the ordinance, the sole speaker to address the issue was Wanda Stewart, the program director of Live Free!, a substance abuse prevention program administered by the group Operation PAR.

Stewart says it is simply too easy to get alcohol inside Seminole’s bars.

Jackie Griffin Daughtery is also with Live Free! She wants not only Seminole to pass the ordinance, but she would like it enacted in Pinellas and Hillsborough County as well.

Since her tragic accident last year, Rasdall has made approximately 2,000 speeches against youth drinking.

She’s also just helped create a nonprofit group looking at ways to have fun without booze.

Rasdall is scheduled to be sentenced for her DUI manslaughter case next week.

The ordinance to ban underage patrons from certain bars in Seminole will come back up for a final vote next month.

Thanks to Dawn Morgan.

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