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A deed filed in the county clerk’s office Oct. 5 shows that the Laurel County Fire Department purchased this property and building.





The Laurel County Fire Department has purchased property at the intersection of U.S. 25 and Fariston Road and plans to relocate The Bingo Zone so patrons can light up while they dab away.

A deed filed in Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson’s office Oct. 5 shows the fire department purchased the property and metal building from Ronald and Susan Centers of London for $300,000. Renovations are underway to convert the building for use as a bingo hall.

The Bingo Zone is currently located on TLC Lane next to the Laurel County Fire Department. It host bingo sessions to benefit the Laurel County Fire Department, St. William Catholic Church and Friends of Music.

Hershel Blanton, Chairman of the Board of the Laurel County Fire Department, said previously bingo is the fire department’s primary revenue source, providing about 96 percent of the department’s annual operating budget. Blanton said the county pays the fire department’s insurance and gives it an additional $19,000, which is enough to pay the utility bills.

London passed its smoking ban in August, making it illegal to smoke in public buildings. Under the ordinance, individual violators of the ban are subject to a $200 fine plus court costs. In addition, the business owner will be cited for each individual found smoking and subjected to the same fine and court costs.

Blanton estimated between 75 and 80 percent of the approximately 300 bingo players are smokers.

Prior to the passing of the second reading, fire department officials sought an exemption for The Bingo Zone, but the council denied the request.

Council Member Jason Handy said while he had not heard many comments one way or the other about the ordinance when the first reading passed, the exemption issue had his phone ringing off the hook.

“I got a lot of calls saying, ‘Don’t exempt anyone,’” Handy said previously.

When the council failed to provide the exemption, fire department officials attempted to take advantage of loophole in the ordinance by making The Bingo Zone a private club.

“We did it because of the smoking ban,” Blanton said previously.

However, City Attorney Larry Bryson said there is no loophole.

“There is no mention of private clubs, but they are included,” Bryson said previously.

Bingo Zone officials then posted signs on the doors telling patrons they were not permitted to smoke inside the building. Bingo Zone officials said the decline in attendance has been noticeable since the signs were posted, drawing 70 to 80 fewer players.

Staff writer Dean Manning may be reached at dmanning@sentinel-echo.com.

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