Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias It's safe to say that the people of Vermillion are progressive in nature. They strive to see that their community grows and prospers.

Vermillion citizens also share a trait that commonly can be found among people who live in the Midwest. They are a patient sort � slow to anger, not discouraged when things don't go their way, willing to turn the other cheek (to a degree).

There are times, however, when a situation becomes intolerable. Maybe somebody has taken advantage of our good nature one too many times. Maybe we've had to deal with an individual or institution that continues to break the rules and fails to do anything to correct the problem.

Maybe we finally reach a point where we can only say, "We're mad as hell and we aren't going to take it anymore."

Despite the progressive nature of the Vermillion community, we feel rather confident that no one will shed many tears if Players Tavern, located in the heart of the city's downtown, closes.

In recent years the establishment has been labeled a nuisance. A restaurateur who has the misfortune of being located next door to the bar noted early in 1997 that he was experiencing several problems with patrons, employees and Mike Gukeisen, the owner of Players.

The restaurant owner noted back then that he had to deal with excessive noise and garbage. Players' patrons often stepped outside to urinate in an alley near the establishment. And, the restaurant owner alleged that his wife was verbally harassed.

Gukeisen responded by saying that he was still learning how to manage Players, which he had operated for only about a year when the restaurant owner's complaints were made.

He told the Vermillion City Council in January 1997 that he had hired more staff to better monitor patrons, and would take other steps to clean up his act.

That was then. Let's see how things are shaping up now.

Monday night was the time for the Vermillion City Council to take action on annual liquor license renewals in the city. A report from the city police department noted that several bars in Vermillion served alcohol to underage customers. In some cases, arrests were made and the proprietors pled guilty and paid fines for their mistakes. There were some instances, too, of insufficient evidence to charge license holders with any offense.

Without question, Players stood out from the crowd. From January 1999 to present, Vermillion police made 19 arrests in six of the city's bars.

Seven of those arrests were at Players. The first arrest this year occurred in March. The most recent was Nov. 24. In every case, legal action is pending against M & G Holdings, the license holder.

A memo attached to the end of the police report to the city council is particularly disturbing. It states: "Regarding the problem with Players Tavern. In speaking with the night-shift sergeant, the main reason for so much underage drinking taking place at the bar is a reluctance on the part of the employees to check for I.D. There is a very casual attitude when it comes to keeping underage people from drinking alcohol."

Vermillion citizens naturally hate to see a business close. No doubt people still wish they could visit Bimbo's, or Maurice's, or Stage. These institutions opened with the intent of having a positive influence on the lives of area residents.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Players. It's been open about four years now, and it appears that the only thing that can be said of the business is it has caused four years worth of problems.

Vermillion citizens, being Midwesterners, are, like we said earlier, patient. The Vermillion City Council gave Gukeisen more than a fair chance two years ago to clean up his act.

It appears that he has forgotten about that. His business once again is proving to be a detriment to the community. The city council voted to renew all liquor licenses Monday except for Players. It wants time to review the facts. The outcome of that study should be clear. Gukeisen should be denied a liquor license.

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