Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 15, 2003

Winsted organization may get pulltabs in Waverly

By Lynda Jensen

Trouble over pulltabs between the Waverly Lions and Uptown Bar was one of several subjects that kept the Waverly City Council hopping Tuesday.

Bar owner Jim Walter attended the meeting to persuade the council to issue a gambling license to the Winsted Fire Relief Association, since he parted ways with the Lions over pulltabs last month and approached Winsted with the idea.

The council discussed the issue with Walter and the Waverly Lions at a special council meeting Aug. 28.

During the special meeting, a personality conflict was noted between Dale Lorentz of the Lions and Walter.

At first, allegations were made by the Lions about improper handling of pulltabs by the bar staff, but these were proved unfounded, after the state picked up and audited 10 boxes of pull tabs, said Clerk Deb Ryks.

In fact, the responsibility rests with the Lions or whatever gambling entity is doing the pulltabs, not the bar owner, for the proper handling of pulltabs, Ryks said.

If anything improper was found, the Lions, not Walter, would have been fined.

During the special meeting, council members asked both parties to work together since they were both losing money over the rift.

Lorentz agreed to work with Walter, but Walter refused to work with the Lions because Lions members mistreated his staff, he said.

Since that meeting, the council and mayor formulated a plan to handle the situation by setting guidelines Tuesday in how the money is spent, since it could not legally deny a permit to an out-of-town gambling entity, if this was desired.

Mayor Charlie Bush outlined the plan, which would require 80 percent of the money to be spent inside the Waverly area, 10 percent given to the city, and 10 percent for the bar owner to keep.

This requirement would apply to any gambling entity, whether it is the Lions or the Winsted association.

Nevertheless, Walter protested this arrangement. "Winsted will give us 20 percent," which is the maximum he can keep, he said.

This was not the city's concern, Bush said, saying that the council is interested in doing what is best for the city.

It was noted that the Winsted Fire Department serves Woodland Township in its coverage.

Council Member Ken Hausladen asked Walter if he approached any other eligible Waverly organizations, such as the Lake Association, Waverly Boosters, or St. Mary's, to name a few.

Walter said that the boosters were not interested in the gambling portion, although they would like to be on the list of recipient funds, he said.

The lake association is interested, reported Jim Woitalla of the parks department, although they only just heard of the situation in the past week.

Walter protested that the process wasn't that simple or quick, and that the lake association would actually have to send members to a class in order to be eligible. This would take time, which is costing him money, Walter said.

Hausladen pointed out that the lake association would be interested in such subjects as improving the ballpark; and this could benefit the bar down the road.

Walter acknowledged this, but pressed the council to make a decision about granting even a temporary license to someone, possibly transferring it from Winsted to Waverly when the lake association was ready.

"I'm losing money," he said.

Hausladen was midway making a motion to do this, but was interrupted by Bush saying "We don't want to set that precedent."

The council decided to adopt the ordinance, but wait with granting the license until the details could be worked out.

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