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Lacey's Spring plans community watch program

By Ronnie Thomas 340-2438

LACEY'S SPRING — A church member here said he expects Lacey's Spring to have a community watch program in place within a month.

Cole Mahan commented after Tuesday night's meeting at Bethlehem Baptist Church, during which 121 people attended, according to church member Frank Edwards' count. Mahan accepted names from people who wanted to keep up with the program's progress.

Surveillance near spa

The program will include surveillance, especially along U.S. 231 and particularly at Illusion Spa. Mahan and others believe it will help put the clamp on illegal activities ranging from thefts at businesses to alleged prostitution at the spa.

Illusion owner Ann Mcelhaney was unavailable for comment. A woman who answered the phone at Illusion would not comment about the meeting.

Mahan said a committee leader and particulars of the program will be available at the next community meeting. He and other residents made it clear that while their desire is to reduce the number of all types of crime, alleged prostitution tops the list.

Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett and District 4 Commissioner Stacy George offered their continued support to the community, just as they did at the first church meeting six weeks ago.

That meeting brought a surprise speaker and a woman who claimed she had been a prostitute at the closed Top Notch spa and at Illusion. Tuesday's gathering, which began with a song, "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," concluded with a visitor challenging residents to walk inside Illusion before making judgments.

Sherrie Saunders of East Upper River Road in Valhermoso Springs said she read stories about the spa in The Daily and came to the meeting after seeing a sign at B&J Family Restaurant.

But first, she said, she walked across the highway and knocked on the door at Illusion.

"Three women were there, and nothing led me to be
nervous," she said. "They are not embarrassed about what they do. Each has children and would not come here tonight because they don't want to hurt their children."

Saunders, who said she works with her husband hanging drywall, said she was there 20 minutes. She said the women only offered her spa services.

"I'm not saying that prostitution does not take place," she said, "and I don't condone that. I'm telling you what I saw. I'm not here to cause a turmoil."

She came close. At one point, Mahan interrupted and told her she had taken more time than the sheriff. The discussion continued after Saunders took her seat and resident LaLane Thomas said, "I don't want to be preached to."

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