Casper City Council unanimously approved the first reading of the transfers of the liquor licenses to the new owners of the Wonder Bar and Poor Boys Steakhouse at its meeting Tuesday.

"It's great to have a local family come forward and work on the development of the project," council member Charlie Powell said before the vote on Poor Boys.

"We all mourn the closing of the Wonder Bar, but I'm excited to see what's done with these properties," Powell said.

In September, Tony Cercy and his son, Cole, announced their intentions to buy the legendary Wonder Bar, 256 S. Center St., and Poor Boys Steakhouse, 739 N. Center St.

City Manager V.H. McDonald, in presenting the city staff reports about the transfers, said both properties will be closed for substantial renovations in the coming months.

Pat Sweeney, who is selling the bar and restaurant, told council the dire concerns expressed on some social media sites were unwarranted.

The Wonder Bar, especially, has had multiple identities over the years, Sweeney said.

"When we purchased the Wonder Bar, known known as the Wonder Bar, it was not named the Wonder Bar," he said. "It had gone through about 10 or 12 years of different name changes. I want to remind the public of that because there's been a lot of attacks, I take them as attacks, against the new ownership about 'how dare you think of changing anything.'"

Previous names included Tommyknockers, Cattlemen's Club and Bootleggers, Sweeney said.

"There's always time for change," he said. "The historical value, I don't see them destroying that. I see them bringing some vibrancy to Center Street... I want to remind folks that change isn't always bad."

No one spoke in opposition to the proposed transfers.

In other business, council approved a zoning change from C-2 (general business) to R-2 (one-unit residential) for five lots in the Harmony Hills Addition at Wyoming Boulevard and South Poplar Street.

Developer Lisa Burridge requested the change. Even though single family houses can be built in areas zoned C-2, a builder lost a job because obtaining financing is more difficult with this zoning than with R-2, Burridge told council.

Council also approved a lease agreement with Casper Coyotes Junior Hockey, LLC, to use the Casper Ice Arena; a grant agreement with the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security for $210,000 to buy equipment and training for responding to hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction; the acceptance of $87,562 in grant funds from the Wyoming Attorney General Office's division of victim services; and the acceptance of a $20,763 grant -- to be split with the city and Natrona County -- from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance for the purchase of patrol rifles and other equipment.

These and other business actions were described in the council's meeting packet.

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