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Eagles want liquor license back

In 1996, the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control revoked the Ironton Eagles’ liquor license after an investigation turned up illegal gambling at the facility.

Eagles Aerie #895 Worthy President John L. Hackworth said that organization has been trying to get its license back, and now, they’re asking for help from area government officials.

Hackworth said the Eagles’ applied for a new liquor license March 15. State

officials will perform an inspection in about two weeks.

The Club applied for a new license a year ago and the state denied the request, Hackworth said. An appeal of that decision failed as well.

He cited the club’s civic standing as a reason for the show of support. Last week, the Lawrence County Commission agreed to send the state agency a letter in support of the Eagles’ request.

Hackworth said he thinks the state agency is being unfair and is singling the Eagles out in an attempt to

discourage other organizations that might try to mix their drinks with games of chance.

"We were not doing any different than any other club is doing in the state of Ohio," Hackworth said. "Most pay a fine and that’s it. How long do we have to be punished?"

Hackworth said not having the license has greatly hurt the club’s finances and

membership.

"We had a payroll of $200,000 a year, at one time 26 employees, and over 1,800 members," Hackworth said. "Since our license has been suspended, we now have a little over 400 members."

Hackworth said over the years, the club has made

sizable donations to local schools, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and other civic causes.

He cited the annual needy families fund, little league teams and the Ironton Police Department as repeat

recipients of Eagles’ largess.

"Our annual donations are sometimes $300,000 a year," Hackworth said.

Matt

Mullins, spokesman for the Division of Liquor Control, said each application for a liquor license is taken on a case-by-case basis and those entities that have had licenses revoked in the past are not necessarily scrutinized more closely than any other applicant.

Mullins said it’s up to the applicant to show they can and will operate within state statutes and city ordinances.

"We’re pretty objective," Mullins said. " We look at every application based on its own merits. We look at the organization’s structure, officers and any changes made to the operation of the organization."

Mullins said the 1999 permit application failed for two basic reasons -- the state determined that the Eagles demonstrated "a disregard for laws, regulations or local ordinances of this state" and the club "purchased and/or sold and/or kept intoxicating liquor on the premises" while it did not have a permit.

"I can’t speculate on what will happen," Mullins said. "That matter is still pending. Our superintendent will make the final decision based on whether or not the applicant will operate within the law." Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune