The Statesboro Police Department is not alone in ensuring that city businesses that sell alcohol do so within the law.
The Georgia Department of Revenue issued 24 citations last month to 19 people for underage alcohol possession and for having fake identification cards.
An increased focus on underage alcohol sales and possession followed the Aug. 28 death of a Georgia Southern University freshman beaten to death in a Statesboro bar.
Rude Rudy's closed after owner Jonathan Starkey surrendered his alcohol license in the midst of city investigations into the fatal beating of Michael Gatto, 18, of Elkhorn Court in Cumming. Grant James Spencer, 20, of Olympic Boulevard, a junior at Georgia Southern is being held in the Bulloch County Jail, charged with felony murder and aggravated battery. Both were reportedly drinking alcohol at the bar.
Georgia Department of Revenue spokesman Nick Jenesi said compliance checks Jan. 22 and 23 resulted in 24 violations at five Statesboro bars - Shenanigans, Dingus Magee's, Club 125, Gata's and RumRunners.
"We're stepping up enforcement" in Bulloch County and Statesboro, Jenesi said. Patrons as well as bar owners and the proprietors of other businesses selling alcohol should be aware of the heightened focus.
Statesboro Public Safety Director Wendell Turner said the city welcomes the state's support in battling the underage alcohol problem.
"As the Statesboro Police Department continues to work with the community to reduce the incidents of underage alcohol consumption through Alcohol Beverage Control Operations, the Department of Revenue will continue to be a valued partner in alcohol enforcement," he said. "It is only by working together with all community stakeholders that we can create a better quality of life for our residents, businesses, and student population."
Ages and addresses of persons cited during the state-led checks were not immediately available from the Georgia Department of Revenue, Jenesi said.
Cited for underage possession of alcohol at Dingus Magee's were: Mattie Marie Saxon, Gemma McDonald, and Caroline Leigh Meaders.
Meaders was also cited for possession of false identification, as was Eric D. Degen, who was also cited at Dingus Magee's.
Those cited for underage possession of alcohol at Club 125 during the compliance checks were Paige Louise Carver, Kesey Y. Johnson, and Haley Christine Blevins.
Ashley R. Vanzant was cited for underage possession of alcohol at Gata's during the compliance check.
The following were cited for underage alcohol possession at RumRunners: Grace Lanier Phelan, Madison C. Poole, and Kayla Lynn Parker. Jenesi said Parker was also cited for possession of false identification.
Cited for underage alcohol possession at Shenanigans, a new bar that replaced Retriever's, were Avery C. Nevels, Juliette C. Howard, Baylee Katherine Neal, Andrew Ryan Kiefer, Corey Lawrence Nelson, Noah Adam Harris, Alex Jeffery Richmon, Benjamin Clayton Chestnut and Whitney Craven Wright.
Chestnut and Wright were also cited for possession of false identification.
All five bars where the 24 violations were found are located adjacent to the Georgia Southern University campus.
Jenesi said the bars where these violations occurred were not cited at the time of the compliance checks. Continued efforts by the Department of Revenue will focus on underage alcohol sales and other alcohol violations, he said.
Because the state department did not cite any businesses, the citations for individuals found drinking underage will not affect the city's decisions regarding alcohol sales licenses, said Statesboro police Cpl. Justin Samples.
"We certainly welcome (the state department of revenue's) assistance, appreciate the help, and hope they will join us in a consistent level of enforcement over a long period of time," Turner said.
The Statesboro Police Department's recent rounds of compliance checks have focused on employees selling alcohol to an underage informant. They have led to City Council hearings that, so far, have resulted in warnings for those with one violation and three-day alcohol license suspensions for those with two violations.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.