by Bob Grawey
Vintage Golf Course owner Chris Bulow lost his appeal to have a fine reduced after an employee failed an alcohol compliance check that cost the owner $1,000.
Bulow had asked Otsego City Council members to reduce his $1,000 fine at the June 13 city council meeting.
The Vintage owner then argued at the following council meeting Monday, saying his civil fine should be reduced since Vintage made just $18 in alcohol sales the previous Saturday.
It was his contention that any fines for a failed alcohol compliance check should be determined by the type of business.
He told council members at the June 27 meeting the golf course should not be fined in the same way as Rockwoods would be fined for a similar compliance failure since it sells more alcohol.
Likewise, a business such as Rockwoods should not be fined for a failed compliance in the same way that a liquor store would be fined due to the volume of alcohol it sells.
Otsego Mayor Jessica Stockamp replied that if Bulow’s sales are so low at Vintage Golf Course, there should not be any reason for a failed alcohol compliance check.
Both the council and Bulow maintained that the employee who failed the alcohol check had taken previous alcohol sales training.
However, one glaring question no one bothered to ask was how long it had been since the employee had gone through that training.
Wright County Health Promotion Coordinator Jill Hylla says employees should be trained every two years at a minimum.
It is unclear how long ago the Vintage employee had taken his training, but the 50-something-year-old man failed to even ask for the minor’s ID June 1.
City Council Member Tom Darkenwald made a motion to reduce the $1,000 civil fine to $500, but it failed to get a second motion required for a vote and was defeated.
The council then made motions to uphold the $1,000 fine on a 4-1 vote with Darkenwald voting against it.
Darkenwald said he was voting against the larger fine primarily because Wright County failed to hold the employee who failed the compliance check accountable with any kind of repercussion.
The employee will not face any legal action from the county, according to Wright County District Attorney Tom Kelly.