Officials rid Florence community of "public nuisance"

Florence, SC - FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A nightclub deemed a "public nuisance" by law enforcement officials in Florence County has been destroyed Friday, following a recent order issued by a circuit court judge.

KT's Lounge, located at 2719 Ed James Rd. in the Savannah Grove community of Florence County, was demolished after officials responded to a total of 31 separate incidents at the location.

Twelfth Circuit Solicitor Ed Clements and Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone were granted permission in January to close the club owned by Kenny Williams. The duo sought to seize the property through a drug seizure statute, and were granted permission to take control of the building on May 4.

Through a negotiation, Boone and Clements reached a settlement with the landowners that would allow them to retain their homes and property at the address, while following through with the destruction of KT's Lounge.

"This is a good day for the residents of this community who had been asking for our help to rid the area of this blight," Boone said in a prepared statement Friday. "Along with the Solicitor's Office, we were able to get them some relief and hopefully make their neighborhood a safer place to live."

Officials with the Florence County Sheriff's Office say 21 drug-related calls have stemmed from KT's Lounge, in addition to three simple assaults, gambling and armed robbery incidents, among others.

"We want this to be a message to other clubs in Florence County that serve as havens for illegal activity," Boone further stated. "We will use all of the tools that law allows to reduce the level of illegal activity and the threat of violence in our communities."

Should additional illegal activity take place at the address on Ed James Road, a judge said the owners could face contempt charges.  Clements said they worked with land owners, so innocent bystanders wouldn't be evicted.

"There were innocent family members involved in this location here that couldn't control it," said Clements. We were able to work it out so we didn't take their homes, but we were able to remove the spot where the criminal activity inundated from."

Boone & Clements both say they will go after other businesses that have the same problems. Clements says the message is simple, this activity won't be tolerated.

"There's many more of these to come. We're sending a message that we're not going to tolerate these problem areas for crime in our county. We have Zero tolerance for that," said Boone.

Boone says his office is already working to take the Seekers Club over, a place where a Florence County Sheriff's deputy was involved in a deadly shooting last weekend. So far they are still in the process of having that property seized.

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