2 out of 70 sell alcohol to minors in Grand County
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado
Only two of 70 liquor outlets in Grand County sold alcohol to minors during compliance checks on June 8.
“We’re very, very appreciative that everybody else did not sell to the underage person,” said Fraser-Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor.
“Sixty-eight out of 70 passing is a great number,” said Cmdr. Brett Schroetlin, the Fraser-Winter Park Police officer who administers the state grant that funds the program. “I think it shows that people are willing to work with us.”
The checks were conducted with the cooperation of Grand Futures and officers from Kremmling, Granby and Fraser-Winter Park police departments as well as the Grand County Sheriff’s Department during a single evening.
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Underage buyers who have not been in the area before attempted to purchase alcohol at each establishment while undercover officers witnessed the attempted transactions, Schroetlin said.
The results of the June compliance checks contrast with the checks conducted in April 2008, when nine of 55 establishments countywide attempted to sell alcohol to underage purchasers.
To cite, or not to cite
Five of those outlets were in Kremmling, where town officials last month said they found the June 2009 results encouraging because only one of seven Kremmling outlets sold to the underage buyers.
Personnel at that one establishment – the Quarter Circle Saloon – have now attempted to sell alcohol to underage buyers during the three most recent compliance checks, Kremmling Police Chief Scott Spade told trustees during a Town Council meeting last month.
Trustee Erik Woog said that rather than enforcing the first suspension in a regulation the council adopted in the wake of last year’s checks, the town should send the owner a letter containing “a bit of a tongue-lashing.”
Such a letter would make it clear that consequences will follow, he said.
“It’s a little bit of a deferred sentence, if you will,” Woog said.
“I think the expectations of having a liquor license are pretty clear,” said Trustee Grant Burger III.
He likened sending a letter threatening future action to telling someone you’re going to count to three and then counting off “two and a-half, two and five-eighths, two and three-quarters …”
“I think he should be cited as the owner,” Burger said.
He noted the council recently had grilled an applicant for a liquor license because of concerns about underage drinking. Yet, he said, the council is sending a conflicting message by declining to take action against the Quarter Circle Saloon in spite of having adopted the new regulation last year.
“For a local establishment to keep serving to a minor, there’s no penalty here,” he said.
The regulation would allow, after a hearing, for a suspension of the establishment’s liquor license for up to 15 days for a first offense within one year.
Town Manager Ted Soltis, as well as the other council members, said they favored the letter approach rather than a citation because, based on the results of the June 2009 checks, the current policy of education “has worked very effectively.”
The consensus was to direct Soltis to send a letter to the saloon’s owner.
Schroetlin said the clerks who tried to sell to underage buyers in June were issued misdemeanor summons. No action, however, is likely to be taken against Deno’s Mountain Bistro, the Winter Park outlet that tried to sell to the underage buyer.
That’s as long as such incidents remain isolated. If they become a chronic problem, “then we’ll take other action as necessary,” he said, adding that the decision is up to the liquor enforcement agency in each jurisdiction, which in this case would be the Winter Park Town Council.
He said the 18-month grant funding cycle that pays for the program will probably allow for one more county-wide compliance check, likely in about six to eight months.
– Drew can be reached at (970) 887-3334 ext. 19610 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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