Baker defends Paden City business
Business Owner Jon Baker addressed the Paden City Council Monday evening to clear the air.
During last month’s council meeting two residents, Scott Loy and Jennifer Martin, voiced their concern over Baker’s business after several complaints were lodged with the Paden City Police Department on Oct. 2 following an outdoor concert.
On Monday, however, it was standing room only as citizens came together in support of Baker and Days Gone By Sports Pub. Though few of them were able to speak due to time constrictions, Mayor Bill Fox gave Baker ample time to clear the air.
“I came here tonight not to yell, argue or demand anything, instead I came to give some insight on the little business that has caused so much stir lately,” Baker said. “I must say Oct. 6 was a very busy day on the phone for me. This was the first time I heard anything about the problem that were brought up at last month’s meeting. I was a little confused. I thought surely someone from the (City) would have called me, or stopped by the house or the pub. It’s kind of shocking to find out the business you are running is in so much trouble, yet no one contacted any of the people involved.”
Baker continued, “In a small town like this? No. That wouldn’t happen. Not in Paden City. The place where I’ve lived all my life, served and dedicated so much time.”
According to Baker, he was not notified of the noise complaints on the night of the concert, though he admitted that Ptlm. Michael Owens stopped at approximately 5:30 p.m. to inform them someone had blocked an alley.
“Allow me to offer some fact,” he commented.
Baker stated that his wife contacted the City’s police dispatcher prior to the concert because they were concerned about the possibility of parking or traffic situations due to the band’s popularity. The Bakers then decided that in an effort to appease the neighbors, the concert would end by 11 p.m.
“During the concert I was on location to take care of the customers. I was told at about 10:30 p.m. that someone had been calling to complain about the music and I answered the call. The person on the phone said that I needed to turn down the music,” Baker said. “I told them the band was going to be stopping soon anyway.”
The band stopped playing at 10:45 p.m. and Baker reported that the building cleared out soon after. “No one was left outside either, because it started to rain,” Baker said. “If we thought this was against any law, we would not have done it. The fact is, there is no difference in what we are doing than any other business, the Labor Day Celebration, music in the park, football games, the haunted trail, someone blowing their car horn, a loud muffler, someone remodeling their house or any other noise going on in town. We didn’t realize how many things were going on in this town illegally. Someone will have to do something about these crimes, too.”
Baker laughed and said, “It sounds kind of petty doesn’t it? But I guess harassment, defamation of character, false claims, slander and discrimination are no longer crimes around here.”
In the beginning, Baker occasionally employed a DJ to entertain the crowd from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., a normal timeframe for venues in this area. “We received a few complaints from our neighbors. So to appease them, we decided to keep a close eye on the back door and try to keep it closed as much as possible.”
A few months later Baker had a DJ again he kept the door closed and still received complaints from his neighbors.
“The neighbors have dogs that bark constantly and I’ve never filed a complaint for the noise or the awful smell that comes from over there,” Baker said. “I’ve never even complained about the man who lives in the camper illegally on the property.”
Baker said the same two people complained about the noise on Alumni weekend. “I spoke to (John), the neighbor behind the pub, the week of Alumni and informed him that it would probably be noisy that weekend.”
According to Baker, his neighbor said it wasn’t a problem. “But he still ended up calling the City Building to file a complaint,” he said.
“We’ve been around for Alumni weekend for years and we know people have parties all over town. We (DGB) have had three outdoor events in two years, two of which were during Alumni weekend.”
The third event was held during Homecoming weekend.
Baker says the events were held to celebrate the school, past and present. “I don’t recall one instance of people complaining about noise when I served on City Council.”
Over the weekend, a Halloween party was held at DGB. Everything was kept inside and the DJ was told to keep the volume down. This time, however, the Bakers and their employees scouted the perimeter throughout the night to insure the neighborhood was not disturbed. “What we heard was no louder than someone driving by with the radio playing. Occasionally, you could hear the bass,” Baker explained.
“After going through all of this in my head, I was still thoroughly confused as to how we even got here,” he continued. “Because of a few people? I’m beginning to think there is more going on around here than meets the eye. Things just don’t add up. I know every Mayor and Council has its own agenda, but I think the City and the Development Authority need to decide whether they want business in this town or if they want to continue down the path of a dead town.”
Baker said he has worked diligently with the Cornerstone Project to bring people to Paden City. “Look, if you want this to be a retirement community, you should have told everyone on the Cornerstone Committee before we spent so much time and money trying to bring young families to this town.”
“It is obvious that a few people in this town do not want anyone to do anything. But, it is, like I said, a few not the majority,” Baker said. “Someone being quoted as saying they don’t want people playing cornhole. Come on!”
“The last time I checked I still lived in a Democracy and my name is on the deed to the property. If Scott Loy wants to buy it he can for the right price. Then he can put rocks on it, too.”
Baker concluded, “All I can say for sure is that if you allow these unfounded complaints to continue you will open up a can of worms for the whole town. I can’t imagine Paden City without a Labor Day Celebration, music in the park, a haunted trail, football games, dances and any other noise at all. We are not the criminal in all of this”
Baker was willing to answer questions posed by the City Council, however, Fox informed him nothing would be resolved during the meeting. Fox did, however, defend the integrity of his office and the council-at-large by saying, “This mayor and this council has no other agenda than to operate this city the best way we know how and to maintain the businesses. But I will say this, each one of us has a responsibility. If I own a business or a piece of property I have a right to that, but I have a responsibility along with it. I’m not sure about the noise. We’ve had 20-some complaints from different people within the city.”
Mayor Fox made it clear that the Council did not create the problem. “…but we are going to have to face it and try to resolve it. It’s created a problem for this council and I want the people here to know that,” he said. “We will address the problem and it will get resolved one way or another. It’s in our hands and we have to deal with it.”
Councilman Tom Trader commented on the complaints filed against DGB. “When I spoke to Penny (Baker) the other day, I found out that part of the complaints made to the ABC were not even true. They came in and checked.”
“That’s not for us to decide,” Fox interjected. “That’s between Jon (Baker) and the ABC. This has been brought to us because there are complaints filed at the Police Department.”
“Do you oversee the Police Department,” Baker asked.
“Yes, we do. But we don’t intervene.” Fox replied.
“If you allow this can of worms to open up, I’m telling you…” Baker said.
Fox interrupted, “I didn’t allow this can of worms. I want that to be understood by everyone in here. I did not create the problem and these councilmen did not create the problem.”
“When you have a problem, you have to resolve that problem. And, you have to hear both sides. That’s what we’ve got to do. We are going to act as an arbitrator. We’ve got to make some type of a decision and I assure you we will do that,” Fox said. “I don’t want anybody to say that this council and this mayor are trying to run a business out of town. I want that to be on record!”
One resident asked what resolutions were going to be made. Mayor Fox again informed those gathered that the issue would not be resolve during the public meeting.
“I have no axe to grind with Jon or his business,” Fox said.
Baker commented, “And I believe you, mayor. I really do. Just make sure that when you are doing this you don’t discriminate.”
“That’s one thing that I can say does not happen with this council. When we make decisions, we don’t pick out people or individuals. We are going to make a decision based on the ordinances. It doesn’t matter who you are, the ordinances are applied the same. We will not show favoritism.”
At the urging of an assembled resident, the Council voiced their thoughts regarding the issue individually.
“I’d like to say that I’ve never heard anything but good,” commented Councilwoman Eileen Smittle. “I didn’t even know you sold beer.”
Trader informed the crowd that he did not go to the pub initially because he thought the Bakers were aware of the issue. “Noise doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Some of the stuff I heard wasn’t right, and I wanted to hear both sides of the story.”
Larry Potts stated that he did not have a problem with the noise.
Glenn Casteel said next time he receives a complaint, he will go to the source and keep an open mind.
Richard Wright said he will do his part to make sure everyone is accommodated and suggested a practice of common sense to resolve the issue together.
As the meeting came to a close many of those who were assembled wondered why they had not been given the opportunity to address the council. Among those confused by the order of the meeting was Baker’s father, James. “I think those who were not allowed to speak were denied their civil rights. They may have had the answer,” he commented after the meeting. “Why should one guy get the chance to speak to the mayor for over an hour and people can’t speak for a few minutes each?”