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Crimes won’t move Kings businesses, residents

Jeff’s Restaurant owner Clifton Jeffery, left, talks Monday about the lack of police patrol in Kings late at night when Club Joski, seen through window, is active off North Washington Street. At right, Food Maxx owner Robert Harper stocks the shelves of his business off North Washington Street Monday. Harper said most of the crime in the area happens after he locks his doors for the evenings.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[9/23/03]Two people were shot and two others hit by a car during the weekend, but business owners and residents in Kings say they aren’t going anywhere.

The owner of a restaurant, however, did say he’d like more help from Vicksburg police.

Kings or Kings Community is the name given to a neighborhood on North Washington annexed in 1990, along with Chickasaw, Waltersville and Ford subdivisions in the same area.

Clifton Jeffery, owner of Jeff’s Restaurant, 2807 N. Washington St., said he decided to open a business in the area he grew up in to make the place better. He said he employs about 15 people living in the area who otherwise wouldn’t be working.

“Nobody left another job to come here,” Jeffery said.

His restaurant is open 24 hours a day for people to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner. But late at night and in the early mornings more than 100 people, mostly teens drive and walk along the street near his restaurant, clogging traffic for potential customers, he said. Club Joski, 2820 N. Washington St., a nightclub, is directly across the street from Jeffery’s.

Friday morning two women were hit by a car, and Sunday morning two Vicksburg men were shot in the nightclub’s parking lot.

“If the police would patrol here at any intervals, it wouldn’t happen,” Jeffery said, who has two security guards at his new restaurant on weekends.

He said he’s tried calling Vicksburg Police Chief Tommy Moffett to talk about problems in the area, but couldn’t get through to him.

“You try calling down trying to get in touch with the chief, and they act like you’re trying to get in touch with the president,” he said.

Moffett said an officer is always assigned to the Kings area, and the area is also included in a second officer’s watch.

“Unfortunately, I can’t say we’ve eradicated all crime in Kings,” Moffett said. “But I think the officers are doing a good job in patrolling.”

Jeffery said the city government seems to have written the area off, citing few street lights along North Washington.

“We were going to get sidewalks,” he said with a half-smile. “But not in my lifetime.”

Robert Harper, owner of Food Maxx, 2785 N. Washington St., said most of the crime in the area occurs after his store closes at 11 p.m.

“Those kinds of things are why I really don’t work the late hours,” he said, on his way to stock the cooler.

Harper said he’s owned the store for about 11 years, and isn’t worried about crime. His store is equipped with security bars and an alarm system.

He said crime happens everywhere, including in the Kings area.

“Things like that happen,” Harper said, noting most of the crime is committed by one group. “Basically it’s young people I don’t know what’s wrong with them.”

A man living in a mobile home near Food Maxx who didn’t want to give his name said he knew about the shootings and the women who were run over by a car, but said he’s not afraid of his neighborhood.

He said problems near the night club don’t disturb him any more than other things in the area.

“People come over here and spin their tires all night,” he said. “Eighteen-wheelers are always coming along the highway.”

He said people at the nightclub don’t bother him since he doesn’t go over there.

Jeffery said he’s just going to be patient and hope the police chief or someone in City Hall will do something to make the area better where he’s trying to make a living.