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Helmut Schmidt, Published May 06 2009

Liquor training stressed

Fargo’s liquor license holders picked up some praise, and reminders to make sure all employees are properly trained so they don’t serve minors, during a series of mandatory meetings Tuesday at City Hall.

“We’ve made some incredible strides,” Police Chief Keith Ternes said. “We think you’re doing a fantastic job.”

But Ternes said more work needs to be done to keep minors out of bars and to improve results of compliance checks.

When North Dakota State University’s business college opens downtown this fall, student numbers in that area will jump from 500 to 4,000, City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said.

“Downtown will change dramatically,” he said, urging license holders to get employees to mandatory server training.

The carrot-and-stick approach was also evident when it came to paperwork.

City Auditor told license holders to take care of city and state requirements promptly because his department would no longer go to businesses to get information needed for licensure.

Sprague said if license holders didn’t attend one of the mandatory meetings, or a Liquor Control board meeting, “I can just about bet that there will be some people, come July 1, won’t be serving alcohol in Fargo.”

Fargo has 148 businesses licensed to sell liquor in the 2009 licensing year, auditor’s office figures show. So far, 146 businesses have applied for 2010 licenses.

Robyn Litke, coordinator of the Safe Communities Coalition of the Red River Valley, said liquor establishments have a “tremendous responsibility” to be sure minors aren’t served alcohol.

“They’re administering a drug (alcohol),” and in that respect take on the responsibilities of pharmacists, she said.

Litke said many compliance check failures are math errors – 60 percent of failures come when servers don’t calculate age properly from the date of birth on driver’s licenses.

Other failures arise when bartenders rely too heavily on ID checks made by other employees, or if alcohol is being served and the server then asks for ID.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583