City council approves strong beer for county fair

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

Will the Houston County Ag Society be able to sell strong beer during all five days of the Houston County Fair in August? The answer is yes…for now.

The Caledonia City Council approved a motion allowing the sale of strong beer during all five days of the fair during the March 26 council meeting.

Last year and again this past February, the council approved a four-day strong beer license and a one-day .32-license, due to state regulations dealing with temporary licenses. The Ag Society went along with the city’s interpretation of the laws dealing with temporary liquor licenses last year, but decided to delve into it more this year.

Emily Johnson of the Ag Society contacted the Minnesota Department of Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division regarding obtaining a consecutive five-day temporary strong beer license.

Johnson was told by the state that the Ag Society could obtain a license in excess of four consecutive days, while another person at the state told city staff they couldn’t.

According to Minnesota Statute #340A.410, Subd. 10, a municipality may not issue more than three four-day, four three-day, six two-day or 12 one-day temporary licenses, in any combination to exceed 12 days per year.

Ag Society President Elden Pohlman told the council the reason they wanted to sell strong beer is there are many more varieties available than .32 beer. And by having four days of strong beer sales and one day of .32 beer, there could be an issue of selling the wrong beer and not being in compliance.

“All of the people we have working in the beer tent are volunteers,” Pohlman said. “They could load the coolers with the wrong beer and we don’t want that to happen.”

Based on that statute, Mayor Bob Burns made a motion to approve a four-day temporary license and also a one-day temporary license. His motion was seconded by Councilman Bob Lemke and unanimously passed.

The issue was being reviewed by City Attorney Tim Murphy, who will weigh in on the “brewhaha” in the near future.

In other council action:

CJC issues

Caledonia residents Bob and Jan Klug, who live right next to the recently-completed Houston County Justice Center, brought some questions to the council.

They asked if the county had met the green space requirements for the amount of floor space and hard surfaced parking lots and sidewalks. They also mentioned the lights in the parking lot, just west of their home are very bright and asked if city staff could take a look at that issue.

They also noted that an exhaust vent on the roof of the Justice Center was quite loud and wondered once warmer weather arrives and they have their windows open if this may become a noise issue as well.

Because city staff did not have an opportunity to research any of these questions before the meeting, the council will take all of the Klug’s issues into consideration, instructed city staff to research their concerns and report back at the April 9 council meeting.

Dedication night

Nick Frank, Rick Frank and Bob Conway informed the council that the Caledonia American Legion Baseball team would like to have a dedication night scheduled for Thursday, June 28.

Veteran’s Memorial Field has had a number of upgrades in the past year, thanks to grants from the local Legion Post, the Minnesota Twins and the city.

Plans are for the current Legion team to play an alumni team on the big field, have a Little League game on the smaller field, have a cookout and obtain a temporary beer license. All of the proceeds will go towards future improvements to the field and to the Legion baseball program.

Electric improvement project

The council awarded the low bid submitted by Karian Peterson Power Line Contracting, LLC for the electric improvement project. The low bid was $370,139.80 for the labor on the project.

Labor and materials for the massive improvement project, which is slated to start the beginning of June, was estimated at $691,182.

Tri-Count Electric grant

The council accepted a $250 grant from Tri-County Electric Co-op that will be applied towards the Caledonia Area Aquatic Center project.

   Solid waste ordinance

The council discussed the draft model of the city solid waste ordinance, which was put together by Houston County and paid for by the cities in the county.

Burns, Councilman Tom Murphy and City Clerk/Administrator Jennifer Feely reviewed the draft ordinance and recommended the city adopt it.

The council decided to have City Attorney Murphy review it before approving it.

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