Council discusses liquor license renewals

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The Craig City Council is pushing closer to local requirements on liquor licensing, but a commitment in that direction wasn't made at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

What the council did do is table a decision on whether to renew the liquor license for Ocean Pearl Chinese restaurant.

This is the second liquor license this year that has been put on hold because an employee of the establishment served alcohol to a minor during an undercover sting operation conducted in February. Grand Futures Prevention Coalition in conjunction with the Craig Police Department and the Moffat County Sheriff's Department conducted the operation. Ocean Pearl was one of eight establishments that served alcohol to a minor during the operation and several council members want to see that reflected in the liquor license renewal process. A total of 29 establishments were checked during the sting operation.

"What steps is the business taking to ensure there is not a repeat of the violation?" City Councilor Tom Gilchrist asked.

The renewal was tabled, City Council Bill Johnston said, to "maybe send a message for businesses to give employees TIPS training."

TIPS training is administered by Grand Futures Prevention Coalition and teaches those who serve alcohol how to check identification cards of customers, how to spot fake cards and the levels of intoxication and how to judge them.

The renewal also was tabled because no one at the meeting was sure whether the person who committed the offense was still an employee of Ocean Pearl.

It was thought that person no longer worked there, but Johnston wanted that confirmed before the business' liquor license was renewed.

"I think that's pretty important," he said.

City Attorney Sherman Romney said the council must distinguish between a citation to an employee and a citation to a business. When a minor is served, the employee is cited -- not the business. It's difficult for the business to know whether that employee has complied with the conditions of the citations, he said.

"The employer needs to do everything it can do to make sure this never happens again," Johnston said.

Several times the council has discussed the idea of requiring all employees of all liquor-serving establishments to be TIPS certified for a liquor license to be renewed, but no action has been taken on the suggestion.

"That will continue to send the message this council has always sent about liquor licenses, renewals and serving alcohol to minors," Johnston said.

Ocean Pearl applied to renew its liquor license early enough so that tabling the renewal will not cause its license to lapse.

It will be addressed again at the next regular council meeting.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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