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State lifts Pool Rooms tax lien
Attorney: Too early to celebrate
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The state tax lien against a local eatery has been lifted, though attorneys for the owner of the Dawsonville Pool Room say it's too early for a celebration.

The downtown, landmark restaurant was seized in May by the Georgia Department of Revenue for more than $80,000 in unpaid state taxes and fees.

The Internal Revenue Service has since filed liens to collect an additional estimated $80,000 owed at the federal level, according to attorney Joey Homans.

"Even if we get the state out of the way, we still have to deal with the federal government," Homans said. "The negotiations with the state went very smoothly. We're hoping it will go as smoothly with the federal agents."

Owner Gordon Pirkle received notification that the state liens had been released on Thursday, the first day he was allowed to enter the restaurant since it was seized and closed on May 9.

"We've set up a payment plan for five years with monthly payments that I'm going to be able to do," he said.

He's hoping to have everything in order to reopen in August or September.

"It'll take probably 30 days to get the paperwork done. We've been closed a month, another month won't make a difference," he said.

Pirkle said he'll spend the next few weeks working on remodeling and renovating the restaurant that pays homage to native son and NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, with news clippings lining the walls.

"We'll get the booths reupholstered, put in a new ceiling and some things like that...things I've wanted to do for a long time, but when you're open seven days a week, you can't," he said.

Homans said it is wise not rush into an immediate grand reopening since federal agents have inquired on the status of the state's case against the Pool Room.

They are now waiting to meet with the I.R.S. in hopes of resolving the federal matter.

"The problem is, right now, we can't even get in the door to talk to them until the reports and returns have been filed," he said.

In the meantime, several events have been planned to "Save the Pool Room."

"It's not about helping an individual, but about the history of Dawsonville," said Robin Smith, speaking on behalf of a volunteer group that formed to raise funds for the cause.

"It's important to our community to keep this piece of history alive."

A unique beauty pageant, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on July 14 at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, is the first planned event to "Help Save the Pool Room."

The next day on July 15 a concert will be held at Veterans Memorial Park featuring local musician Dell Conner. Other local, family-friendly bands will also appear on stage from 3 to 10 p.m.

The following weekend, on July 21, a car and bike show will be held at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame beginning at 4 p.m.

Last month, Pirkle said he knew he had a lot of friends, but said he has been astonished by the calls, words of encouragement and support he's received.

"Not only from here in Dawsonville, but from other states, too," he said. "It's just overwhelming."

Accounts have also been set up at United Community Bank and First Citizens Bank of Georgia to "Save the Pool Room."