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Foxhole North club owner surprised protests will continue

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COSHOCTON, Ohio — from www.lancastereaglegazette.com – The owner of an adult-oriented business in Coshocton County’s Newcastle Township said he was surprised to learn from news media that protests would continue at his club.

Thomas George, owner of Foxhole North, met with Pastor Bill Dunfee of New Beginnings Ministries, of Warsaw, Wednesday night at a restaurant in Mount Vernon.

“I was flabbergasted,” George said. “I thought we had a cool, collected meeting and both sides had laid out what their views were.”

The pair agreed to meet and try to resolve a conflict that started more than four years ago when Dunfee and other members of his church began gathering outside the Foxhole on weekend nights. In turn, George and some of the dancers started meeting outside New Beginnings Ministries on Church Street before Sunday morning worship services a few weeks ago. News of the dancers’ protest prompted the meeting.

“I thought he was going to take the information to his congregation before making a decision,” George said.

George said his complaint is not with the church, but with Dunfee and a few people who show up each weekend and try to keep patrons away from his business.

“This is all about Pastor Bill and his activities outside my club,” George said. “I’m trying to be as sensitive as I can with the congregation.”

He’s even made an offer to end the battle between the pastor and the club owner.

“If he steps away from the pulpit and admits he’s wrong, then I will relinquish the club,” George said.

If Dunfee is going to continue to come to the club, then George and the dancers will continue to show up outside the church on Sunday mornings, he said.

Greg Flaig, executive director of the Ohio Owners Coalition, said this is the part he doesn’t get. By not backing down, those Dunfee is trying to keep safe now are being exposed to protesting dancers in bikinis surrounding the church grounds on Sunday morning.

“I believe that the very people that he is trying to protect — the children — are now asking their parents what’s going on,” Flaig said.

The Foxhole has no windows and what goes on inside can’t be seen by the general public unless they come in, he said.

The Ohio Owners Coalition is a group of more than 70 show club and adult cabaret owners. Flaig also was at Wednesday’s meeting.

Dunfee said he returned to Coshocton Wednesday night, talked with some members of his ministry team and his wife and quickly made a decision that he wasn’t going to take George and Flaig up on their offer to open the ministry doors to hundreds of other strippers in Ohio.

Flaig, too, was surprised to learn Dunfee reached his decision so quickly.

“This is not an offer or an opportunity that’s been put out there before,” Flaig said.

The coalition helps keep a regulatory eye on sexual-oriented clubs and works with law enforcement, Flaig said.

“My goal is to work with the police, the government and the community to keep these clubs operating within community guidelines,” he said.

Coalition members have terminated women for using drugs or being part of prostitution, and those lists are provided to law enforcement, Flaig said.

His offer to Dunfee was to allow his church the opportunity to reach out to women beyond Coshocton County.

“I’m going to keep an open mind and believe Pastor Dunfee will go back to his congregation and they will help guide him in his decision,” Flaig said.

There are about 150 members at New Beginnings Ministries.

Dunfee said his ministry wants to reach more than the exotic dancers.

“It’s not just the women, it’s the fathers, husbands and young men,” Dunfee said. “As long as it’s (Foxhole) open, it’s a revolving door to that lifestyle.”

New Beginnings Ministries also has a church meeting on Thursday evenings, and the topic of Flaig’s offer was discussed then, too, Dunfee said.

He and his group will continue to try to minister to the club patrons, and in addition, a few of the women of the church have agreed to go along this weekend in attempt to talk with the dancers before the club’s busy time starts after 11 p.m.

Efforts to close down the business at midnight will be futile, as it operates as a non-nude facility, George said.

The dancers do wear some clothing to cover parts of their body, he said.

“We’re being conservative and mindful of the community,” George said. “Those girls could go topless if they wanted.”

It doesn’t matter if the women are nude, or semi-nude, the theme of the business is still the same, Dunfee said.

“It’s still a vice that’s leading people into temptation,” he said.

Flaig argues if the church were given the opportunity to convert dancers to Christianity, they’d have a better chance of shutting the businesses down.

“If these young ladies find their way to God, they won’t be there dancing,” Flaig said.

Business at the Foxhole North has declined because people don’t want to be harassed when they’re out for some entertainment, George said.

At one time there were 12 to 15 dancers leasing space at the Foxhole North each weekend, but now there are about six or eight, he said.

The women pay George a fee to dance at the club, and customers pay a cover charge for admittance. The club doesn’t have a liquor license, but customers are allowed to bring in their own alcoholic beverages.

“All I want is for him (Dunfee) to go away,” George said. “I intend to stay open.”

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