It was only appropriate that a Texas-sized stemwinder of a prayer kicked off the Denison council meeting.
“Every beginning has its ending and every ending has a new beginning. Help our leaders to know what to cling to, what to preserve, and what to let go of,” a woman in an Easter-Bunny-pink shirt requested from the heavens.
“Empower each one of them to use their unique gifts to create a beautiful life in our community. As they are guided by your holy spirit, our entire community will flourish.”
It was more important than usual that the prayer today be thorough, for the council was facing an issue that might usher in copious amounts of sin:
Whether to give a nightclub an alcohol and live music permit.
“One of the situations in the request is also the operating hours,” a staff member explained. “Proposed operating hours for this are Thursday through Saturday, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.”
He quickly added, “this is inside the entertainment district. A nightclub use, live music, is appropriate.”
When I think “small-town Texas entertainment district,” I imagine rodeos and gun stores, not live music and dancing. Talk about pushing boundaries!
“We are the owners of the nightclub,” a couple announced at the lectern. “Here for any questions you may have.”
“Is this your first time to operate a nightclub?” Mayor Jared Johnson quizzed them.
“Yes. I’ve worked in nightclubs before off and on throughout the years,” replied the man confidently.
Councilmember J.C. Doty was surprised at how late the nightclub would keep the music cranking. “You’re requesting to be open till 2 a.m. I know some of the other places around close at midnight,” he observed. “Was there a specific reason why you wanted to stay open till 2 a.m.?”
“We’re only gonna be open three nights a week,” countered the owner, much to the chagrin of the Tuesday-night club aficionados. “I believe that’d be very important for our profit margin to have a couple extra hours per night.”
“So being in the entertainment district,” the mayor mused aloud, “should there be an event on a Saturday afternoon that they could benefit from being open during that time, what would be the process for allowing them to do that?”
Mayor Pro Tem Kris Spiegel abruptly leaned forward to defend the tiny business from the heavy hand of big government.
“I guess I don’t understand why we’re limiting it to 8 [p.m.] to 2 [a.m.] Whether they open at 5 p.m. or 4 p.m., I don’t know why we care.”
The staff member seemed to back up the libertarian point of view, replying, “I’d have to request the ordinance. I’m not sure that we have to restrict their hours. I believe we request them to give us operating hours.”
The mayor, sensing a compromise between the open-anytime wing of the council and the eight-to-two faction, said, “if it’s the council’s pleasure, what they’re suggesting is to put in a number not to exceed five or six times a year to have different opening hours.”
He glanced to his left. “Mr. Pro Tem, does that make sense?”
Spiegel nodded. “Understood.”
After a moment’s silence, he continued, “does that mean you want me to make a motion?”
“That’d be great,” the mayor deadpanned to laughter, before adding ominously, “don’t mess it up.”
And just as the prayer said: the council knew what to preserve and knew what to let go of.