COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - "Count it a community win," said the tweet from the Richland County Sheriff's Department's Twitter account on Tuesday morning after what was called a "hotbed" of criminal activity closed.
Along Bush River Road in Richland County, there are signs of progress and scars of the past. Lester Bedenbaugh knows the story of that area well, who has lived here for more than 50 years.
"Oh, it was a highly desirable area 50 years ago – nice little houses," he said. "Dutch Square was the place to be, and, of course, the people came from Newberry and all around to be there, and it would be a good place to be on Friday night even if you didn't want to buy anything."
Since then, Bedenbaugh says Bush River has battled blight – and what he calls "undesirables."
"Strips clubs, liquor stores, and the honky-tonk juke joints both on Broad River Road and Bush River Road. We don't need them," Bedenbaugh said.
After battles, two near Bedenbaugh's home closed in just the past several years. Now, another casualty. Tuesday, Richland County deputies announced that Thee Whiskey Tavern is no more.
Deputies said it was a "hotbed for illegal activity." They said, over the past three years, they responded there some 90 times for reports of aggravated assaults, robberies, weapon violations, liquor law violations, sex crimes, and property crimes.
80-year-old Bedenbaugh won't be moving and hopes deputies and county leaders will keep cleaning up the area for future generations. Meanwhile, the club doesn't appear to be waving the white flag. A Facebook post asks club-goers to stay tuned for its next location.