MARTINS FERRY - City council has voted to not renew Fred's Party Center's license to sell beer and wine.
Fred's Party Center, located at 819 South Zane Highway in Martins Ferry, is owned by Fred Fryman, who also owns Bridgeport Party Center in Brookside.
The decision not to renew his license was voted on by Martins Ferry City Council at its Dec. 30 meeting. There will be a hearing and the state will decide whether or not to pull the license.
Each year, the Ohio Department of Liquor Control sends village and city councils liquor renewals for local businesses to which the councils decide as to whether or not that business should have a license to sell alcohol.
"I want to thank everybody for their total cooperation. This took a cooperative effort," said Martins Ferry Mayor Paul Riethmiller. "I want to thank the city administration, the Martins Ferry City Council, the Martins Ferry Police Department, the Belmont County Drug Task Force, the Belmont County Prosecutor's Office and Attorney General Mike DeWine's office in Columbus."
According to Martins Ferry Police Chief and Belmont County Drug Task Force Commander John McFarland, the problems with Fred's Party Center began in February of 2013.
"In February of 2013, undercover officers made a control buy of Diablo, which is a synthetic marijuana," McFarland said. "The Diablo was sent away and was found to contain the ingredient that was banned and was considered a control substance and is illegal to sell in the state of Ohio."
This came after Fred's Party Center, like many businesses in Belmont County, received a letter from the Belmont County Drug Task Force to stop selling the synthetic marijuana, like Diablo, that contains the illegal substance. According to McFarland, Fred's Party Center continued to sell the product, even after being notified that it was illegal. Bridgeport Party Center received the same letter as well.
In April of 2013, search warrants were served at Fred's Party Center, Bridgeport Party Center and the owner's residence on Virginia Street in Martins Ferry.
"On Sept. 5, the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, in a civil case, took Fred's Party Center to court in front of Judge Frank Fregiato to have their establishment labeled as a public nuisance," McFarland said. "On Sept. 24, Judge Fregiato gave his ruling that it was a public nuisance because they were participating in commission of a felony."
At the same time, it was ordered that Fred's Party Center be shut down for one year due to the selling of the synthetic marijuana, also known as K-2. The shutdown has been delayed because the case went to the court of appeals and a ruling has not yet been made.
"With them being considered a public nuisance, we decided to object to the renewal of their license," said McFarland.
Van Dyne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.