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Keller Youth Association president faces questions over ties to strip clubs

In Arlington, Steven Craft has had legal battles with the city over the operations of a strip clubs called T&N and a cabaret called Centerfolds.

In Dallas, he has fought with the city over Cabaret Royale, a club for which he is a director.

Legal challenges have also hit the Fare Room, to which state records show that Craft has ties. The menu there includes "legs and eggs" from 1 to 6 a.m., according to its MySpace page, and "oh yeah, sexy women getting naked." He is also listed on state records as president of Baby Dolls Topless Saloons Inc. in Dallas, another club that has been at odds with the city.

But in Keller, Craft has a different role.

President of the Keller Youth Association.

When he was elected in June, many were apparently unaware of Craft's ties to adult businesses.

Now, some parents are troubled by his involvement with the youth recreational sports association, which is sponsored by the city and school district, among others.

"I guess I don't want my kids associated with someone who runs that kind of business," said Ryan Murry, 36, of Fort Worth, whose children participate in the association.

Keller resident Tracy Kinard, 40, said she was apprehensive after learning about Craft's businesses. "I would imagine you would have a very negative reaction with the parents that live in this area," said Kinard, whose 7-year-old daughter cheers for the organization and 11-year-old son plays football for it.

"I don't think that he has any ill will towards the kids at all, but there is a little bit of a conflict of interest it sounds like," she said.

Craft, who is listed in voter registration rolls as a North Richland Hills resident, has a child who has taken part in sports with the association, and he has coached football.

Craft described himself in a phone interview as being involved in sports bars and restaurants.

He declined to comment further about being involved in adult-oriented businesses, but said, "Some people probably think that I am."

Craft said he would call Friday to further explain his business interests, but he did not call and could not be reached. Various publications say he is vice president of Burch Management, which owns at least five strip clubs in the Metroplex.

From 2003 to 2009, Craft filed three legal challenges against the city of Arlington over clubs he's affiliated with, including Centerfolds and T&N, to keep them licensed.

Youth association cheerleading commissioner Shawna Coleman, who is on the board, said she wasn't aware of what Craft did outside of the organization. "I don't have any comment on it," she said. "I don't want to speak on something that I don't have any knowledge about."

Some other board members declined to comment.

Hundreds of area children take part in Keller Youth Association recreational and select sports. It offers baseball, softball, football, basketball and cheerleading, as well as summer camps.

While parents contacted by the Keller Citizen were disconcerted to learn of his businesses, some said they will withhold judgment.

Bev Franco, 46, of Fort Worth, whose 10-year-old son recently played baseball in the organization, said she was in "the middle of the road."

"As long as he ... can separate business and the association, I don't have a problem -- it's a business," she said.

"As he is a good person and treats all the kids right and runs the organization well, then that is his business," she said.

Franco's husband, Jeff, 40, however, had a different view.

"I feel a little uncomfortable knowing that," he said. "I think maybe having someone in the youth organization, as he is, would need to follow strict guidelines based upon the kids ... "

Having Craft as the organization's president doesn't seem appropriate, he said.

Staff writer Darren Barbee contributed to this report.

Adrian McCandless,

817-431-2231

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