McCOOK, Nebraska -- During the McCook City Council's annual renewal of current retail liquor licenses, Monday evening, a pair of councilors voiced concerns pertaining to the activity at Sports Night Club.
Councilman Mike Gonzales asked Chief of Police Isaac Brown, "Just going through these, it looks like there is one establishment that has more infractions than others. What's it take before there is a recommendation not to approve, how bad does it need to get?"
Brown replied that as the report indicated there had been an ongoing problem with Sport's Night Club and the police department had been doing walk-throughs on a regular basis at the business for some time, in an attempt to limit some of the problems. Brown said the walk-throughs had been only somewhat successful and that Sport's had also received a 30 day suspension by the liquor commission for violations that were initiated by the police department.
The suspension stemmed from a July 22, 2011, offense in which Sport's Night Club purchased alcohol from a non-wholesaler. According to background information provided in the council meeting packet, Schmick's Market was found guilty of a violation for the unauthorized sale of liquor for resale, also dated as an offense on July 22, 2011.
Councilman Jerry Calvin voiced concerns about the liquor commission assigning the suspension to Sports for the July violation, but still as of yet not setting a start time for the suspension to begin. "Is the state choosing not to care? Is this not serious enough for them to bring it to the top of the pile on this person's desk?" said Calvin.
Brown replied that, based on his conversations with the liquor commission, he believed violators could buy their way out of the suspensions at a rate of $50 per day. That approximation would place the total amount, for Sports to avoid a 30 day suspension of their liquor license, at $1,500.
Brown said the council did have the option not to recommend automatic renewal of Sports liquor license, which would in turn require the business to submit an application for a liquor license and go through the licensing process with the liquor commission again. Brown said that might be appropriate in this case and reexamination of the business by the commission could shed some light on the situation.
Brown said he believed this to be the first time Sports had been caught purchasing liquor from a non-wholesaler, but over the past several years the police department has consistently had a concern with their activity. "It's almost always higher than the other places. We have more fights, more assaults, more problems and we have fairly consistently done walk-throughs to try to slow it down, for the last two or three years," said Brown.
Calvin made a motion to pull the automatic renewal for Sport's Night Club and request the state require them to go through the formal process of re-filing. However, neither Mayor Dennis Berry or Gonzales seconded his motion and it died as a result.
After Calvin's motion failed, a motion was made to approve Sports for automatic renewal of its liquor license, along with all other current retail liquor licenses in the city, which was unanimously approved by the three council members.
Karry Coburn, manager of Sports Night Club as well as Gazette advertising director, said she was disappointed to learn of the council's conversation and that it was hard not to feel singled out.
Coburn said that no one at Sports had ever intended to violate the law and explained that a rash decision was made during a busy time, to purchase three bottles of liquor from Schmicks, after they had unexpectedly run out one afternoon.
Coburn said Sports continually puts efforts into providing a safe and disturbance-free environment and employs three doormen on the weekend, "As far as I know we are the only bar in town that is doing that," said Coburn.
Coburn said Calvin had expressed sympathy to her in recent years when she had voiced her concerns to him pertaining to the negative impact that the police walk-throughs, and "carding" of her patrons, were having on her business.
Coburn said that as a result of one conversation in 2010, Calvin set up a meeting between Coburn, Chief of Police Isaac Brown and then-City Manager Kurt Fritsch.
The meeting resulted in the police department stopping their regular walk-throughs, according to Coburn.
Coburn said she certainly didn't feel like the liquor commission didn't care about the scenario and that the fine amount she was required to pay was actually twice the amount discussed during the City Council meeting. Sports has received notice from the liquor commission that they have until Jan. 15 to pay a $3,000 fine amount, or their liquor license is suspended for 30 days beginning Jan. 15, according to Coburn.
Assaults reported at license locations:
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Disturbances reported at license locations:
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Ambulance calls reported at license locations:
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