Block parties will be prohibited while restrictions will be placed on private outdoor events in Winnsboro if an amended ordinance is approved at the Sept. 16 Town Council meeting.
The amended ordinance was introduced at the Winnsboro Town Council meeting Monday night.
“Under this amended ordinance, cars will not be allowed to block traffic and loitering will be not be allowed,” said Mayor Sonny Dumas. “We are going to do whatever it takes under the letter of the law to protect our citizens and our police force.”
A block party or street party is an outdoor public event in which many members of a community or neighboring communities congregate on public property to either observe an event of some importance or for mutual enjoyment, according to the proposed amended ordinance.
A private outdoor event is an event held on private property for invited guests and for private enjoyment only, according to the proposed amended ordinance.
Additionally, a private outdoor event will require a $10 permit if 75 to 100 guests ages 12 and older will be in attendance. If the private outdoor event will have over 100 guests ages 12 and older the host will be required to purchase a $20 permit and provide one security officer for the event, according to the proposed amended ordinance.
Private parties will end at midnight for adults and 11 p.m. for juveniles, according to the proposed amended ordinance.
“We want to make sure we have everything right,” said Councilman Rex McCarthy. “This does not include if you are doing something indoors. This is for outdoor events.”
If the host does not purchase the private outdoor event permit, the event will be terminated by law enforcement officers and the host will be fined “not less than $250 nor more than $500 or be imprisoned for not more than 60 days or both,” according to the proposed amended ordinance.
“We feel this is necessary because of the Bush shooting and the violence that has been occurring in Winnsboro,” Dumas said. “It is time to take action. We are going to attempt to change our ordinances to help block some of the violence that is going on.”
On a related matter, another amended ordinance banning backpacks in Winnsboro while school is not in session was introduced at the Town Council meeting. Additionally, backpacks are to be clear or mesh “so that the contents are visible.”
Violators will be fined “not less than $25 nor more than $100 or imprisoned for not more than 10 days or both,” under the proposed amended ordinance.
During the backpack discussion, councilmen said an exception could be allowed for student athletes going home after summer practice.
“This is to protect the interest of our people and our police officers and nothing more,” McCarthy said.
The move to tighten ordinances pertaining to backpacks, block and private parties came on the heels of Waneshia Bush’s death. Bush, 20, an honor student at Grambling State University, was killed after being struck by a stray bullet while attending a block party near Blanson and Smith streets at approximately 1 a.m. July 21.
A committee was appointed to research legalities and author the amendments at a special Town Council meeting July 30. Committee members are Councilmen McCarthy and Jerry Johnson and Winnsboro Police Chief Will Pierce.
At the special Town Council meeting, council members sought advise from Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb, Franklin Parish Assistant District Attorney Caroline Hemphill and Winnsboro City Court Judge Scott Sartin.
“I like what I see,” Dumas said Monday night. “We may see this in Chicago and California, but I don’t want to see this in Winnsboro. We are going to make a difference.”