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Liquor license issues dominate council meeting

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A number of restaurants and retail liquor stores in Delta were issued violations after selling alcohol to an underage enforcement officer in November.

Devil's Thumb Golf Club, Daveto's, CB's Tavern, Uptown Wines and Green Valley Liquor were cited in the sting.

"They cleaned house," said Delta Police Department Chief Luke Fedler of the state licensing authority. "It's a black eye for the city."

As a result, the city is looking at a resolution to require server training for any establishment found to be in violation of the state's liquor laws.

Carrie Boyd, co-owner of CB's Tavern, said she is totally on board with that requirement. At the March 21 meeting of Delta City Council, she said the changing look of Colorado driver's licenses makes checking customers' ages challenging. State laws are also subject to change. In the case of bars and restaurants, the state is now ticketing the server as well as the license holder for providing alcohol to minors.

Server training can be accomplished online or by a business contracting for on-premise training, but the city would like to bring in a certified trainer for a class to be offered to all of the city's liquor licensees.

While CB's, Daveto's and Uptown Wines have operated for years without any violations, that's not the case with Green Valley Liquors.

Shortly after a transfer of ownership in December 2015, Green Valley Liquors, 750 Main, was cited for selling liquor to an underage

enforcement officer. A second violation occurred in November 2016, reportedly involving the same cashier. In both cases, the store paid a fine in lieu of suspension.

Chief Fedler said the fact that a new licensee violated liquor codes twice in such a short amount of time is very concerning.

He shared his concerns with city council members during discussion of the store's retail liquor license renewal application March 21.

The owner of the store, Venkata Alete, traveled from Aurora to address the council. He apologized for the violations, saying he is new to the business.

In addition to training for the store's owner and employees, Chief Fedler recommended renewal with a stipulation that the store's license be suspended indefinitely if a third violation occurs.

That's a stiffer penalty than the state levies. Nelson said the state mandates a minimum 22-day closure for the third violation, and revocation of the license after the fourth infraction.

Four is too many, Chief Fedler said, citing his concern that the next underage purchaser might not be a state employee, but a young resident of the community who winds up in a serious traffic accident.

The city council followed staff recommendation and approved the license renewal 5-0 with the stipulations.

Transfer of the liquor license at the golf course from the City of Delta to T's Concessions generated another discussion. A routine background check on Anthony Chavez, the owner, revealed two DUIs, the latest in 2012.

Chavez told council members he has made mistakes in the past, but is proud to be where he is now. He has worked with the city as a concessionaire at Bill Heddles Recreation Center and is looking forward to handling food and beverage operations at Devil's Thumb.

Attorney Brandon Luna served as a character witness, saying Chavez understands his responsibilities as a business owner and employer.

At council's request, Wilma Erven, recreation center director, shared her experience working with Chavez. She said she's been "very, very pleased" with operations at both the recreation center and the golf course, where Chavez is operating under a temporary liquor license. She said she's heard nothing but good comments about the food and the service at both venues.

Council member Bill Raley said it's commendable Chavez has been able to turn his life around. The transfer of the liquor license was unanimously approved.

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