Hammond city councilman defends support of troubled Hammond bar

2013-03-08T00:00:00Z Hammond city councilman defends support of troubled Hammond barChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | Hammond City Councilman Anthony Higgs defended his support of a Hammond bar raided by police in February after his fellow council members received a letter he wrote in 2010 requesting the bar's liquor license be renewed following an earlier incident.

Hammond police served a search warrant at Dodo's Firehouse Tap, 521 Conkey St., last month after informants made controlled buys of narcotics from two bartenders.

State excise police issued a notice of violation against the bar, which is still pending review by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission prosecutor, according to state excise spokesman Cpl. Travis Thickstun.

It's not the first time police have intervened at the bar.

State excise police pulled the liquor license when officers found narcotics at the bar in 2009, according to city attorney Kris Kantar.

The license was then reinstated on appeal to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission based on the “will of the community,” according to Kantar.

Higgs said at the last City Council meeting he wanted clarification on what had happened at the bar in February.

“In reality DoDo is a nice person,” Higgs said. “She's never offended me, done anything to me, and I don't think she's a threat to the community. I just wanted to make that perfectly clear.”

In the letter to the Lake County and state alcohol boards from 2010, Higgs states he's known the bar's owner, Delores Nastoff, for more than 20 years and found her to be an asset to the community.

Higgs went on to write that while the bar, “had some violations over the past year, I do not think that Ms. Nastoff was any part of, nor did she have any idea, this sort of thing was happening in her business.”

Following the earlier incident, the Lake County Local Alcoholic Beverage Board had recommended the license's denial, but the state board renewed the license after no city official or community member remonstrated at the state commission's hearing, according to Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission records.

Nastoff also had provided the state commission a letter from Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller, who wrote in 2010 that his department currently didn't have issues at the site, according to state records.

Miller said Nastoff had requested a letter detailing police calls to the bar after the 2009 incident, and at the time, the department didn't have any current complaints.

A phone number listed for Dodo's Firehouse Tap was disconnected Thursday. The city's building department had turned off electricity to the building in February after standing water was discovered in the basement.

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