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Committee discusses Westside's compliance check violation

Westside Liquor proprietor Steve Wright apologized to city officials Monday night after they discussed the sale of liquor to a minor at his business, above, on Willmar's southeast side. An employee there sold alcohol to the minor during a Willmar Police Department compliance check earlier this month. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council's Finance Committee on Monday met with Steve Wright of Westside Liquor to discuss Westside's failure of a recent compliance check during which a store employee sold alcohol to an underage person.

Westside was the only alcohol retailer out of 20 on-sale and off-sale liquor establishments in the city that sold alcohol to someone under the legal age of 21 during the Willmar Police Department's compliance check on Oct. 9.

The police department has regularly conducted alcohol compliance checks since 2001, when the city adopted an ordinance that establishes escalating penalties for businesses that don't comply. The department hires persons under the age of 21 to enter the establishments and request alcohol. City Administrator Michael Schmit said Westside has not had a violation in almost 10 years. Wright apologized for the sale and discussed his training program for employees.

Wright was told the police department offers free classes to educate alcohol servers on appropriate ways to deal with underage customers who request alcohol and complying with regulations.

During the public forum portion of the meeting, Willmar resident John Sullivan requested to know the purpose of $25,371 slated for the City Office in the capital outlay program in the proposed 2011 budget. City Administrator Michael Schmit said the money is slated for City Office roof repair.

In other business, the committee continued its discussion of the mayor's proposed $25,694,742 budget for 2011 and focused on the general fund, which will account for 9 percent of the overall budget. The general fund covers city administrator's office, mayor and council, planning and development services, city clerk/treasurer, assessing, finance, legal, the City Hall, data processing, elections and cultural diversity.

In other action, the committee acknowledged and accepted a gift of $285 from the Disc Golf Club for improvements to the disc course on Robbins Island.

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