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Penalties delayed for Willmar club said to have served minor

WILLMAR -- Due to extenuating circumstances, the city will delay enforcement of civil penalties against the Double D Club of Willmar for allegedly serving alcohol to an underage patron until criminal charges for serving to an underage patron are decided.

The situation facing the club was discussed Monday af-ternoon by the Willmar City Council's Finance Co-mmittee. The committee de-cided to delay enforcement of the ordinance's civil penalties pending the court's decision on criminal charges.

The club is owned by Duane Duenow of Arlington. No one from the club attended the committee meeting. This was the club's second violation; the first occurred during a Police Department compliance check on Oct. 24, 2008.

City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday told the committee his office was notified by the Police Department that Double D sold alcohol to an underage person on Aug. 1. Halliday said the club employee who checks identification and stamps a customer's wrist if the customer is 21 recognized the patron as someone who has been at the club numerous times, and the patron ordered a drink.

A police officer who was observing the club knew the patron was not 21 because the officer had dealt with the patron previously and arrested the patron and the bartender. But an investigation showed the patron had four different aliases, two of which appeared to be legitimate Minnesota driver's licenses showing the individual to be 21 years of age.

Pending the court outcome, the city is not going to pursue the civil penalties in the ordinance until the criminal charges are resolved, said City Administrator Michael Schmit. The civil penalties for the second violation are a fine of $750 and suspension of the license to serve alcohol for five business days.

The committee also:

- Voted to recommend the council approve a resolution to establish a fire damage escrow account under a state program that lets insurance companies withhold 25 percent of a property owner's insurance payment if a fire-damaged or destroyed property is beyond repair and the owner does not remove the debris and clean up the property. If the owner does not clean the site or remove the debris, the withheld amount is paid to the city to cover removal and cleanup costs. The city acted after a fire-destroyed home on Williams Parkway was not removed for several months.

- Received Rice Memorial Hospital's second-quarter financial report from Bill Fenske, chief financial officer. The report said the hospital made a small profit for the quarter.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150