Men and women in the military can serve our country, but in downtown Wilmington, they may have a hard time getting served a drink Mayor Bill Saffo spoke to crew members from the USS North Carolina Submarine. He asked about their stay in Wilmington and discovered the sailors had a hard time getting into bars because they were in the military. The Mayor said this was unacceptable, and today he attended a meeting of The Association of Bar Owners and Restaurants Downtown to discuss the issue. Owners of some private clubs, basically bars that sell very little food, say they can not let members of the military in because of an old state law stating all patrons have to have a membership or be with a member. Right now, memberships require a three day waiting period. If club owners do not comply, they can be fined. Bar Owner & Bar Assoc. Secretary Daniel Boyle said, "It's easier for an ALE agent to pick them out of the crowd verses anybody else." To help members of the military gain access to the clubs, Mayor Saffo is working with leaders in Camp Lejune, the WPD and the Commissioner of Alcohol Beverage Control to let the service personnel sign in and have an immediate membership to the club. The bar owners say this plan is fine, as long as there is accountability for the military members' actions because they say in the past they have had problems with service member's behavior. There will be another meeting to discuss the law change next month.
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