Sunday, February 25, 2018
News Roundup

AIDS benefit canceled after Pasco club abruptly closes

HUDSON — A nonprofit agency that helps AIDS patients had hoped its benefit concert would bring in big bucks. Nine Latin music groups had volunteered to play for the event, which was set to happened Monday night at Club Ignite. Pasco World AIDS Day Committee would get to keep each $10 admission fee, while the club would keep all proceeds from drink sales.

But six days before the concert, Club Ignite closed. And now the charity that was struggling to raise money is out the $500 that it spent on fliers, decor and other items for the event.

"I've been on four radio stations; I sent out 1,000 emails. I've been on Facebook," lamented Ray Torres, the group's treasurer and a paralegal student at Pasco-Hernando Community College. "I don't know what we're going to do."

Torres' options are limited.

The group did not pay a deposit to the club, so there's little chance for a legal claim.

"A lawyer said we could go to small claims court, but it would cost us about $340 to get $500," he said. "That kind of defeats the purpose."

Torres said the club should have told him sooner about plans to close so he could book another venue. He said he found out Tuesday from someone else, though he acknowledged club manager Jeff Holmes sent him a Facebook message about it on Oct. 26. Torres said he didn't read the message, though, because he didn't recognize the sender.

Neither Holmes, who managed the club, nor his two brothers, who owned it, could be reached for comment.

The building at 12142 U.S. 19 is owned by Intra Holdings LLC of Tarpon Springs. The property manager also could not be reached for comment.

Holmes' message to Torres that the club would close Nov. 1, but he hoped it could be open for the benefit. However, he urged Torres to look for another venue.

"I reached out to the property management team for the building yesterday in a chance meeting to see if they would open the doors for your event," Holmes wrote. "I can talk to a few of the party limo busses to see if they will be willing to shuttle your guests, this will allow you to host the event as scheduled, but possible slightly delayed in timing."

Torres said Club Chill in Holiday expressed interest in stepping in, but the venue is not large enough to accommodate that many musicians.

He said since taking over recently as treasurer, he has tried to organize events to raise money for the group, which has about six active members and $2,000. Composed entirely of volunteers, the group uses the money it raises to help local AIDS patients with expenses such as utility bills, rent and medical co-pays. It also provides free, confidential testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and works to raise awareness and educate the community about the disease. A luncheon is scheduled for Dec. 1, which is World AIDS Day.

Torres also plans to meet with New Port Richey officials to try to book Sims Park for an event next August.

He said he asked club owners to donate $500 to the group to make up for the money it lost, but "that's when the conversations stopped."

"We could have used that money to help people," he said.

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