By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN A last-minute recommendation by Police Chief Mike Henrich, which was included in Winsted’s liquor ordinance approved by the council April 6, has the Winsted City Council reconsidering its original decision.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, the council scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, June 1 to get public input on the matter.
The provision, that was added and is being reconsidered by the council, makes it a violation for the employee of the bar owner (license holder) to be under the influence of alcohol (with a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater) while on duty. If the employee is in violation, it is also considered a violation of the bar owner (license holder).
Winsted bar owners Jacob Schlagel, owner of the Blue Note, and Brian Langenfeld, owner of Keg’s Bar, voiced their concerns during the open forum at Tuesday’s meeting.
Schlagel and Langenfeld asked to have the provision revised or removed because it was not part of the proposed liquor ordinance they had originally reviewed and agreed to.
Also, the two bar owners said that the liquor ordinance already holds the owners accountable and the additional provision would give them “two strikes on one instance.”
“We can fire the bartender, who would walk away, but it is still going to be held against us,” Schlagel said.
Council Member Dave Mochinski agreed with Schlagel.
“I don’t think it is fair that the employee can get off scot- free compared to what is going to happen to the bar owner of the establishment. I would like to have it amended, or not put anything in there.”
Henrich, who was at Tuesday’s meeting, said the reason he suggested the provision be added was because the bartenders are responsible for making sure they are not serving to underage drinkers or to someone already intoxicated.
“Where is the judgement going to be if you have intoxicated people serving people that are intoxicated?” Henrich asked.
The city had been very open as it considered possible amendments to the liquor ordinance, beginning in January.
Before the city even proposed the liquor ordinance amendments, it asked for input from the bar owners.
Once the proposed ordinance was completed, it was sent out to the bar owners again, then it was presented to the Winsted Area Chamber of Commerce members for their comments, but the ordinance did not include Henrich’s provision at that time.
At the council meeting April 6, Mareck presented Henrich’s recommendation during the public hearing.
He told the council the provision had not been part of the proposed ordinance and he left it up to the council if it should be included or not.
Scott Bayerl, new owner of the Corner Bar and Grill, was present during the public hearing and Mayor Steve Stotko asked him if he had a comment on Henrich’s recommendation. Bayerl said he did not.
It was at that time the council agreed Henrich’s recommendation be included in the liquor ordinance.
The council did not make any decisions, at Tuesday’s meeting, regarding the provision that was added to the ordinance. It did agree to the public hearing Tuesday, June 1 to review the provision. Following the public hearing, the council will decide whether it will revise the section or delete it altogether.
“I just want to have the openness that we have been trying to have with the bar owners,” Council Member Bonnie Quast said. “I think that is probably more important than even having this paragraph in there.”