Cops, liquor license holders trying something new |

Cops, liquor license holders trying something new

Scott N. Miller

They’re bad news for retailers and bar and restaurant owners, who face at least the temporary loss of revenue for violations; they are bad news for towns, which lose sales tax revenues when a tavern or liquor store has to stop selling alcohol for a few days.

The town of Eagle has had a number of liquor violations recently. The Brush Creek Saloon was shut down for five days after a lengthy, contentious hearing over issues including over-service, unruly behavior by customers, and other violations at the establishment; and most of the town’s liquor retailers received citations after failing a “sting” operation in which an underage informant successfully bought alcohol. Four out of six stores sold to the informant. Clerks who actually sold alcohol to the informant were cited on the spot, and disciplinary action is still pending against the establishments.

In an attempt to limit future problems, the Eagle Police Department has initiated an effort to sit down with all the town’s license holders on a quarterly basis throughout the year to help educate managers and owners, as well as to discuss any recent issues.

“We had been doing this informally with clerks and bartenders,” says Eagle Police Chief Phil Biersdorfer. “This formalizes the process somewhat, and we document it.”

In addition, Officer Jerry Beers will sit down with managers and owners to ensure cleaner lines of communication.

Gina Lowry, owner of the Liquor Cabinet on Grand Avenue, says she welcomes the opportunity to talk to officials more often.

“It’s a good idea,” she says. “It’s easier to deal with something right away than let it go for months.”

Julie Salaz, owner of Mi Pueblo restaurant, agrees.

“We want to be cooperative with the town, and it’s great to update us as things come up,” she says. “If there’s a problem, I want the police to know about it.”

Getting to problems sooner rather than later can help establishments stave off future problems, says Biersdorfer.

“In the past we’ve just presented a file once a year,” he says. “Sometimes that’s the only time license holders hear about any problems.”

Knowing about little problems before they become big problems is a good thing, adds Lowry, whose store was one of those cited in last year’s sting operation.

“This is small town. You need to do your part,” she says.

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

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