Bar owner calls police on Clearwater Gas workers
John Susor said he contacted the authorities when Clearwater Gas employees refused to stop an illegal dig on his lot.
By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
Published January 4, 2006
INDIAN SHORES - For John Susor it is a matter of property rights.
When Clearwater Gas workers began digging last week on a corner of his parking lot on Whispering Pines Drive, he asked them to stop.
When that didn't work, he called Clearwater Gas officials. And when that didn't work either, he called the police.
Armed with a 30-plus-year-old survey, Susor insisted the gas company was illegally digging on his property. He demanded that the new gas line be moved.
"I told them they could not put it on my property," Susor says. "I called everybody but Christ. It was only after I called the police that they decided to give in."
Susor, 87, is no stranger to controversy in Indian Shores.
He has lived here since 1969 and frequently makes his presence known, often to the chagrin and even irritation of city officials.
Susor's Mahuffer's Bar (a.k.a. Sloppy John's) on Gulf Boulevard is a virtual town landmark.
Its eclectic interior evokes an older Florida with memorabilia, fish nets and even signed bras hanging from the walls and ceilings. The bar itself is furnished with parts of boats that sank in storms past.
In one corner rests a large, round metal anchor buoy from New Orleans that washed up on the local beach after a hurricane.
In another is a rusting motorcycle left by a customer 20 years ago.
Then there is the 750-pound sand-filled bomb left over from World War II practice runs on local beaches.
Over the years Susor has run unsuccessfully for the town's commission and for mayor. He feuded with town officials, sued the town and was sued in turn.
His bar was cited several times for building code and fire safety code violations.
Susor's colorful past includes several arrests on charges ranging from grand theft for stealing dirt to aggravated assault for hitting a bar customer with a baseball bat.
Today, Susor proudly admits he is a town "character." And with his white beard and hair and his Hemingway-style loose T-shirt and pants, he certainly looks the part.
He is proud of his bar and dismisses the town's multiple attempts to rein in its colorful and exuberant decor.
"I've got c--p here from all over the world. It's the backside of paradise," he says.
As for the town, he doesn't like his streets torn up to put utility lines underground, which he says has hurt his business.
Nor does he like the condominium redevelopment now flourishing on the beaches.
When asked whether developers have approached him to buy his property, he says "many times," but shakes his head that none have met his terms - a large box filled with $100 bills - as proof of intent.
"I guess they're not serious enough yet," he said.
But he is very serious about his property and anything that infringes on it.
During his dispute with the gas company, Susor stood guard outside the bar's entrance.
Tom Sewell, director of operations for Clearwater Gas, confirmed Tuesday that the company had encroached on Susor's property.
"We were given some misinformation about the right of way. It has now been resolved. We moved the line a few inches," he said.
Whether it was a few inches or a few feet is not the point for Susor, who describes the dispute as "big shots trying to tell little shots what to do."
[Last modified January 4, 2006, 01:22:50]
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