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Katherine Lymn, Forum News Service, Published September 10 2013

Belfield City Council shuts down problematic bar

BELFIELD, N.D. - The city of Belfield shut down one of its oldest businesses Monday night.

City councilmembers voted to immediately and indefinitely suspend the liquor license of Randy Wolfgram, who runs Mike’s Bar, after repeated incidents that they say endangered the community and used up city resources.

After fights, extreme intoxication and similar problems, the city last month gave Wolfgram one last chance to prove he could run the bar safely. But in the time since, a woman had to be taken to the hospital after she blew a 0.30 blood-alcohol content — nearly four times the legal limit — and Wolfgram himself was arrested for alleged domestic assault.

At the meeting Monday, Wolfgram’s lawyer, Sean Foss, said Wolfgram would give up ownership of the bar but asked for two more months to transfer the liquor license to the new owner and take care of similar business. A new owner is already planning to buy the bar, and Wolfgram plans to leave the community entirely. Foss said the community would benefit from the bar staying open with continued sales taxes, American Legion donations and employment for the workers there.

But council members said even two months was too much time to risk more of Wolfgram’s management.

City lawyer Sandra Kuntz urged the council to deny the request.

“My concern is if we were able to run the tallies of what this city has paid in terms of jail fees, medical facility fees, doing wellness checks, doing detox for 72 hours for some of these individuals and the resources your PD has provided towards ensuring the safety of this community,” it may outweigh the benefit the community sees from the bar staying open.

Police officers at the meeting also urged the council to shut down Mike’s, citing the incidents of extreme intoxication, and the likelihood that police would be unable to tend to a life-threatening emergency elsewhere because they spend so much time taking care of problems at the bar.

The bar was to shut down effective 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Belfield is about 20 miles west of Dickinson.