Time for Kingsport to shut down Hog Wild Saloon?

Editorial Board • Mar 19, 2018 at 9:26 AM

Two months ago, Knoxville closed a private club as a public nuisance due to gang activity, shootings and violent behavior. A business can be declared a public nuisance and enjoined from operating if it negatively affects the health, safety, welfare or comfort of the public.

Kingsport has experience with this approach. A dozen years ago, the city filed a court petition to have Club 229 in the Riverview neighborhood declared a public nuisance after a report that Kingsport police, over the previous three years, received 33 complaints about it, including two reports of shots fired, five reports of a shooting, a rape, seven assaults, seven disturbances, and three reports of disorderly conduct.

As a result, the club was sold to the Kingsport Economic Development Board to become a community revitalization project.

It may be time for Kingsport to again make a similar move. While police responded to 16 incidents over 2003-2004 at Club 229, they answered 113 calls to the Hog Wild Saloon on Stone Drive. The threshold for Club 229 was lower by magnitudes.

Memphis shut down a storefront as a public nuisance for 185 calls over a two-year period.

Over the past five years, city police have responded to 729 calls to Hog Wild Saloon, including 54 fights, 42 additional “disturbances,” 20 reports of reckless vehicles and 12 thefts. EMS calls to Hog Wild totaled 61, including 19 “accidents with injury” and 11 calls to treat “bruises and abrasions.” Paramedics were also called six times to deal with people who were unconscious.

Finally, on March 2, a 20-year-old Kingsport man was shot to death inside Hog Wild and another man wounded. Responding to those calls, police found numerous safety violations, including water running into electrical fixtures, numerous leaks and ceiling damage, portable kerosene heaters and gasoline containers inside the building, and that the sprinkler system had been shut off. Hog Wild was closed due to these violations, and the power and gas meters shut down. If and when repairs are made, there will be another inspection.

But given the record of emergency calls to the bar, shouldn’t more be done? Shouldn’t the city consider declaring that business a public nuisance and act accordingly?

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