Ahoskie studies dance ordinance

Published 9:04 am Tuesday, February 16, 2010

AHOSKIE – In the aftermath of a Dec. 30 public dance where two individuals were shot, Ahoskie officials are proposing to create a new ordinance.

At their meeting here last week, members of the Ahoskie Town Council approved holding a public hearing on a proposed Public Dance Ordinance. That hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 9 at the Ahoskie Town Hall.

During their January meeting, Council members discussed the idea of creating a Public Dance Ordinance. At their request, Town Manager Tony Hammond checked with other municipalities to see if they enforced the same type of ordinance.

“I did learn that there are some municipalities that enforce such an ordinance,” Hammond told the Council at their Feb. 9 meeting. “I have drafted a copy of what our ordinance needs to read and have met with our Police Chief and Town Attorney to see if they had any concerns over the way it is written. Neither had any objections.”

Hammond said the final draft will be brought back to the Council’s March 9 meeting at which time the public is allowed to make comment. Following that public hearing, the Council can take action on the ordinance.

If adopted as currently written, the ordinance will cause any person desiring to conduct a public dance to submit an application for a permit (on a form provided by the town) at least 10 days prior to the date of the proposed dance.

That application must contain the full name and address of the person or organization requesting the dance permit; the date, location and time of the event and the estimated number of individual attending; whether or not alcohol will be served or allowed to be consumed on the premises; proof of liability insurance for the event; a written lease or proof of ownership by the applicant of the property where the dance will be held; and a security plan that details the names and number of individuals in charge of enforcing the rules governing the event.

If approved, the person holding the dance must pay a permit fee, a price set by the Town Council. Permits can be issued for an individual date or to cover an entire calendar year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31).

The proposed ordinance states that all dancing shall cease at 12 midnight (expect, as permitted, on New Year’s Eve) and the location locked at 12:30 a.m.

No person under age 16 is permitted to attend a public dance unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Every public dance shall require adequate security (off-duty Ahoskie Police officers). The number of officers required will be determined by the Ahoskie Police Department based on the number of anticipated participants, whether alcohol will be served and if there have been any prior disturbances at a public dance conducted by the applicant. The fee associated with the use of these off-duty officers is required to be paid in full at the time of the application.

Those planning to serve liquor at a public dance are required to obtain a license from the town. No alcohol is permitted outside the dance hall unless authorized by the town.

All public dances are subject to the Town of Ahoskie’s noise ordinance.

The provisions of the ordinance do not apply to the Town of Ahoskie, Hertford County or any public school that is conducting a public dance on their own premises. Also exempted are dances held at private residences.

The proposed ordinance was brought about after two Ahoskie men – Tishone Askew, 20, and Rashawn Mercer, 19, were shot in the early morning hours of Dec. 30 after leaving a public dance held at the American Legion building on McGlohon Street.

Askew, shot in the upper torso, and Mercer, who suffered a gunshot wound to his leg, were both taken to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital and later transported to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville. There, Mercer was treated and released while Askew spent a few days in the hospital before being sent home.

The two were among a large crowd of individuals who were walking towards Main Street following the dance.

Two weeks later, the Ahoskie Police Department arrested Tirelle McCoy Jones, 19, of Blackjack Road, Kelford, and 20-year-old Jaronta Raynor, of the Glovers Crossroads community in the Colerain area, for the shooting. Both were charged with one felony count of attempted murder and one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill by inflicting serious injury.