Owners of Good Times challenges legality of alcohol compliance checks

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

Does the city of Caledonia have the legal right to conduct alcohol compliance checks at businesses that sell on or off sale alcoholic beverages in the city?

That was the question that Dave and Kris Wedl of Good Times Restaurant asked the Caledonia City Council last week. Dave and Kris, along with their son Jon Wedl, attended the Feb. 13 council meeting after the council had decided to suspend Good Times and Quillin’s liquor licenses for one Friday because both establishments had failed alcohol compliance checks conducted by the city police department.

The Wedls contended that the city ordinance, written in the 1950s, was outdated and questioned if it was still applicable. They pointed out there is no provision in the city’s ordinances that allows for compliance checks. They also questioned the legality of the police department to hire an underaged person to attempt to purchase alcohol, which is against the law.

The council decided the issue should be reviewed by City Attorney Tim Murphy, who will present his opinion at an upcoming council meeting.

At the Jan. 23 meeting, the council decided to allow both establishments to choose one Friday during the next three months when their licenses would be suspended. Quillin’s selected to have their license suspended on Friday, Feb. 10.

In other council action:

West side sewer project

The council approved the final contract language for the west side sewer project for Gary Kruckow and Bonanza Grain.

In December the city had received a request for sewer service from Kruckow after he had been notified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) that his sewer system was out of compliance.

Bonanza Grain was one of six property owners that are located on the west side of Highways 76/44 that are not connected to the city’s sanitary sewer system.

In December the council decided to prepare plans, obtain permits and bids and construct a pressure sewer main for Bonanza Grain at an estimated cost of $37,500.

At the Dec. 12 meeting Kruckow said the only concern he had was if he would go ahead with the pressure sewer system by himself and the city did decide to move forward with the much larger gravity system, if he would receive some compensation for his investment in the other system.

Mayor Bob Burns suggested that the city should be able to come up with a workable contract, where the life of the pressure system would be prorated over a 20-year period. If the city moves forward with the larger gravity system, Kruckow would be compensated on a prorated basis.

After reviewing the proposed contract during the Jan. 23 meeting Councilman Tom Murphy said he felt the 20-year period was too lengthy and suggested a 10-year limit. Councilmembers agreed and approved that language.

Last week Kruckow told the council if the city was set on the 10-year period, he would rather go with the more expensive gravity sewer system. The council decided to go along with Kruckow’s wishes.

A motion by Burns and seconded by Murphy to allow for the 20-year prorated period for the system was unanimously approved.

Road race route approved

The council approved a request from Bill Klein, representing Camp Winnebago, to route a portion of a half-marathon road race to be located in Caledonia.

The proposed race, called “Run for the Hills,’ will begin at Camp Winnebago and move along CSAH 5 into Caledonia, to Kwik Trip and then back to Camp Winnebago.

The half marathon is planned for April 7 and will begin at 10 a.m.

After checking with Police Chief Kurt Zehnder, City Clerk/Administrator Jennifer Feely reported that the local police department didn’t have any issues with public safety concerns and was all in favor of the race.

A motion by Burns and seconded by Murphy to approve the request was unanimously approved.

Zehnder receives raise

The council unanimously approved a motion to grant Police Chief Kurt Zehnder a two percent raise, effective the next pay period.

While the other non-union city employees had received a two percent raise earlier this year, the council decided to wait until Zehnder’s performance review had been completed. Feely reported that Zehnder had met the criteria that the council had developed and the review was satisfactory.

Tony Klug resigns

The council approved (with regret) the resignation of water/wastewater supervisor Tony Klug, effective March 31. Klug has worked for the city since April 14, 1971.

“This is going to be a huge loss for the city,” Burns said. “Tony has been a very valuable and dedicated employee for many years.”

The council discussed a number of options in an attempt to fill the void due to Klug’s departure. The city must have an operator in place with a Class A license to oversee operations at the sewer plant. Those options include contracting with an outside company for an operator or advertising to try to find someone with a Class A license to work in Caledonia.

Sick leave for grandchild?

Feely told the council a city employee, who is a member of one of the unions, requested that the city change its employee policy to include being able to use sick leave to take care of a grandchild.

After discussing the issue at some length, the council decided since the employee was a member of a union, the policy change would have to be approved by the union first.

It was suggested that the employee use vacation time, comp time or could go on unpaid leave. No action was taken on this issue.

You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]