Saturday, June 01, 2002

Drug bust puts bar's survival in question

By Jane Prendergast,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Police went back to a controversial Avondale bar Friday night, and this time they made their biggest bust there yet.

        About 10:15 p.m., officers went to Uncle Milt's bar and restaurant on Burnet Avenue and served a search warrant. In the past week, officers made six crack cocaine buys inside the bar from bartenders, said Capt. David Ratliff, District 4 commander.

        A number of people inside the bar were arrested Friday night, but the exact number was not immediately available. At least two of those arrested work at the bar, police said. About 20 people were inside the bar at the time.

        “This is obviously an area we're protecting,” said Capt. Ratliff. “These are kids.”

        Residents and officials of nearby Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Ronald McDonald House say Uncle Milt's is a haven for drugs and violence. In response, City Council asked the Ohio Liquor Control Commission in April to yank the bar's license, but police say that could take months.

        The bar's owner, Deanna Morgan, says she wants to be part of the neighborhood's revitalization. She has said the residents and corporate neighbors who have lined up against her know she intends to expand the business and serve lunch to clients of the hospital and house for parents of sick children.

        Jennifer Goodin, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House, has said it's unfortunate that it had to come to this. But she believes Uncle Milt's has to go to ensure the safety of the people who stay there, and to protect the rest of the neighborhood.

        Police have been watching the place. What they described as a routine bar inspection there two weeks ago ended with two arrests and the finding of 0.62 grams of crack cocaine.

        One man arrested was found rolling a marijuana joint in the restroom, the other was wanted for violating parole on a burglary.

        According to the Cincinnati Police Department, patrol officers last year responded to 857 calls for assistance along the corridor stretching from the 3200 block to the 3500 block of Burnet, which includes Uncle Milt's.

        Capt. Ratliff said Uncle Milt's “is the number one trouble spot for complaints in the district.”


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