Posted 6/17/09 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
The Watford City City Council reissued liquor licenses to five Watford City establishments during its regular meeting on Monday, June 8. But it did so with a stern warning that it expected the establishments to strictly follow city ordinances, especially those governing the sale of alcohol to minors.
During Monday night’s meeting in which all liquor establishments were requested to be in attendance, the council expressed its concern over a recent special enforcement survey by the Watford City Police Dept. that found two city bars served alcohol to a minor.
Both of the bars that served alcohol to minors apologized to the council for doing so and promised to take steps that would prohibit minors from being served.
According to Troy White Owl of the Watford City Police Department, the department used minors who were acting on behalf of the department to enter each of the city’s liquor establishments to try to purchase alcohol. A local undercover officer was also in the bar to witness whether or not the liquor establishment did serve the minor.
“Under state law, minors can enter bars as agents as part of an alcohol compliance check,” White Owl informed the council.
In addition, according to Daryl Vance, Watford City Police Chief, the local liquor establishments were informed at least twice that a compliance check would be done.
But still council members were concerned by the manner in which the compliance check was done and the length of time it took for the liquor establishments to learn whether or not they had passed the check.
“The compliance check should have been a learning tool,” stated Justin Voll, councilman. “The bars should have known immediately when they served a minor - not a week later.”
While serving alcohol to minors is against law, one Watford City resident also spoke out strongly during Monday night’s meeting on underage drinking in general and on adults providing alcohol to minors in particular.
“My concern is underage drinking, period,” stated Delvin Reeves. “I’m concerned about certain adults who are buying alcohol and then giving it to the kids. Something needs to be done or we’re going to be burying more and more kids.”
Also sharing his concerns of the underage drinking problem was Ben Weltikol, Watford City fire chief.
“People made mistakes in this last compliance check - both the bars and the law enforcement,” stated Weltikol. “I’ve seen a lot of dead people because of drinking.”
The problem of underage drinking, according to Weltikol, starts with the parents.
“At the last public forum on underage drinking sponsored by the McKenzie County Coalition, there was only one parent in attendance and one teenager.”
In a non-related issue, Lowell Cutshaw, city engineer, informed the council that based upon a preliminary inspection of the B & H Body Shop building, the city may need to conduct a structural assessment and an environmental site study before proceeding with purchasing the property for use by the Healthy Hearts Wellness Center.
“The back wall of the building has failed and needs to be repaired,” stated Cutshaw. “There are also concerns regarding the timber retaining wall and the integrity of the existing roof.”
The city, according to Cutshaw, needs to have a detailed cost assessment done in order to determine whether or not the city should go forward with the purchase of the building.
“We (the city) need to determine the true cost of what the building is worth,” stated Cutshaw.
Sharing Cutshaw’s concern was Councilman Brent Sanford who noted that he would not be in favor of spending $4,000 for an environmental study if the building isn’t sound.
“The intent of the City Council when it agreed to purchase the building was that we would buy it and fix it up for the Wellness Center,” stated Sanford. “It was not our intent to spend all of the money rehabbing the building.”
It was the consensus of the council to postpone this work until an approximate cost to repair the west building wall could be established.
In other business, the city council:
• Approved the Bond Resolution for LSS Housing authorizing the issuance of $1,000,000 in mortgage revenue bonds.
• Approved the Memorandum of Understanding regarding Creekside Cottages Housing Project.
• Approved the Preliminary Plat of First Addition to Creekside Addition which is a re-subdivision of Lot 1, Block 1, Creekside Addition submitted by Cascade Homes, Bozeman, Montana for the purpose of building a new housing project on the property.
• Approved a Variance Application submitted by Dale Wahus for the purpose of a variance of 10’ from the required 30’ front yard set back for building a shop/garage located at 504 2nd Street NW and stipulating that the property cannot be sold as a separate lot.
• Approved a request from the Homefest Committee to block Main Street and to allow alcohol on Main Street and the sidewalks for the Street Dance during Homefest from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on June 26 and 27.
• Approved a request by the Watford City Area Chamber of Commerce to have the streets blocked off at 8:00 a.m. for a Street Fair and to allow alcohol on Main Street and the sidewalks from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. for Ribfest on July 31.
• Approved the renewal of the Liquor and Beer Licenses and the Sunday Alcoholic Beverage Permits for the American Legion Club; D & M’s Office; Six Shooter LLP; Watford City Bar, Inc.; and the Long X Bottle Shop for the period of July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.
• Approved the purchase of AutoCADD LT 2010 for an approximate cost of $950.
• Approved a $660 grant from the Energy Impact Office for the fire department.
• Approved interviewing Conlie Hermanson for the cemetery maintenance position.
• Approved not replacing the street light on the corner of 4th Avenue NE and Main Street North contingent on the NDDOT giving their approval.
• Approved Resolution #2009-05 setting the bond for the City Auditor.
• Approved renewing the Contract for Collection of City Sales and Use Taxes with the North Dakota Tax Dept. for the period of July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011.
• Was presented with information regarding the city’s proposed dog ordinances. The Ordinance Committee will meet to review the ordinances prior to making a recommendation to the City Council.
• Approved the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the McKenzie County Landfill effective January 2010.
• Approved hiring Kayla Pea for a seasonal position.
• Approved step increases for Ted Schulz, Ron McCloud, Dustin Newman and Jim Pittsley.
• Approved spending up to $8,000 to upgrade the security camera system in the city hall and Veterans Memorial Building.
• Approved the following appointments by Mayor Pelton: Ron Broderson to Airport Authority for a five-year term from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014; Brent Sanford to Lodging Tax for a four-year term from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2013; Jan Riely and Phil Riely to Pest Control for two-year terms from July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2011; Glen Beard to Planning Commission for a five-year term from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014; and Brent Sanford to the Housing Authority to fill the unexpired term of Deanne Valenzuela from June 8, 2009 to September 6, 2010.
• Heard a report from Ken Callahan, district manager of Montana-Dakota Utilities regarding the company’s integration efforts and the Area of Service Agreement.
The next meeting of the Watfod City City Council meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 6.