CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As Morgantown officials look for ways to better regulate drinking at West Virginia University, recently ranked the No. 1 party school in the country, business owners are up in arms about some of the suggestions.
At the most recent Morgantown City Council meeting, councilman and former mayor Bill Byrne proposed the "last call" time for bars be pushed from 3 a.m. to midnight.
Byrne believes, if bars close earlier, less alcohol-fueled acts of violence would occur in the downtown area.
"You're just asking for trouble. The status quo is not acceptable. Things are starting to get out of hand," he said. "We want to address these disruptions and the criminal activity downtown."
Byrne also suggested that bars allow entrance only to people 21 and over, and that, in addition to Alcohol Beverage Control officers, police be allowed inside establishments.
Although all of those suggestions go against state code, and the council currently has no plans to go through with them, changes are being made to curb violence in other ways, according to Mayor Jim Manilla.
"We've had a lot of problems with fights and underage-drinking issues," he said. "We've had a few bad experiences this year with random acts of violence and people getting jumped. Almost every time, alcohol is involved."
Although Manilla says there is no threat to downtown business owners, Byrne hopes they will volunteer to make his suggestions a reality.
That's not likely.
"The city should be embracing us instead of this crazy notion that they're going to make a curfew," said Kevin Wilkey, corporate general manager of Rock Top Bar & Grill. "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."
The bar opened in downtown Morgantown this summer and has since invested upward of $10 million in the city and created 200 jobs, according to Wilkey.
"Financially, the city couldn't afford to give up the tax revenue bars bring in from alcohol sales," he said. "We would just move our business into another area, and we would never come back."