North Adams Licensing Commission puts local bars on watch


NORTH ADAMS >> The city's License Commission is strengthening its efforts to rein in incidents tied to local establishments.

A fight at the Crystal Hardhat Saloon on Friday — its last day of business — drew police from North Adams, Adams, Williamstown and Massachusetts State Police to help control the large crowd that flowed out of the establishment.

And just days after a warning from the commission last month, the Pitcher's Mound Pub on Ashland Street was the scene of an alleged assault on a bartender, according to North Adams Police Director Michael Cozzaglio.

A 23-year-old man at the bar repeatedly tried to instigate a fight shortly before midnight on March 24 before eventually assaulting a bartender, according to Cozzaglio. The incident was recorded on video, but the bar did not call police, who were called to a fight 20 minutes later involving the same man behind the Boardman block of apartments on Montana Street.

The man was belligerent and surrounded by a crowd of some 40 to 60 people, Cozzaglio estimated. He was eventually taken into custody and faced charges.

"He was a big fellow, and he wanted to fight with officers," Cozzaglio said.

The commission members lamented that the Pitcher's Mound staff didn't call police.

"It could have been de-escalated at [the bar] instead of down the street," board member Peter Breen said.

Breen suggested suspending the bar's license to serve alcohol for several weeks.

"We have to take a stand here," he said. "We've warned them before."

Board member Rosemari Dickinson suggested the board request the pub owner Jack Rivard to attend its next meeting and speak about the incident. She noted the board, if it so chooses, usually begins with a one-day of suspension.

The board agreed to Dickinson's motion to discuss the matter further at the next meeting.

"It's dangerous," Breen said. "Obviously the bar is not calling for help, even when it's assaulted."

The confrontation at the Crystal Hardhat, which had faced a similar warning from the commission in March, was no surprise to police, who had expected their final night in business to get rowdy.

"We were expecting that it was just going to overflow," Cozzaglio said.

A video of the 12:30 a.m. altercation on Saturday posted to Facebook by a bar patron has already garnered more than 33,000 views.

"Looking at that video is disgusting, to say the least," board Chairman Jeff Polucci said.

Crystal Hardhat owner Todd Hebert plans to convert the bar, a city staple which he has owned for past nine years, into an antique store. In an interview with The Eagle last week, Hebert cited the behavior of some of the bar's younger clientele as among his reasons for closing the bar.

"We knew there was going to be a problem, sadly," Cozzaglio said.

Cozzaglio noted that it was two local people fighting that precipitated the chaos.

A third bar on watch by the commission, the Key West Lounge on State Street, has been relatively quiet since it received a warning from the commission in March, Cozzaglio said.

There was an incident on a Sunday in which a patron, after walking home, reported that another bar customer had been in possession of a gun. The incident was investigated and it was determined that the claim was false, Cozzaglio said.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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