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Cowboys bow their heads before last summer's PBR Bull Ride over Fourth of July weekend. (Enterprise file photo)
Cowboys bow their heads before last summer's PBR Bull Ride over Fourth of July weekend. (Enterprise file photo)

Henrietta Township board reverses decision on previous beer resolution

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news Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The Henrietta Township board has repealed the resolution it passed in January requiring all temporary liquor licenses be for 3:2 beer.

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The board met Wednesday with its lawyer, Troy Gilchrist, to discuss concerns brought up at its regular meeting earlier this month. At that meeting, Randy and Denese Jokela, organizers of the PBR Bull Ride, along with other citizens, questioned why the resolution was passed.

They said the resolution changed and took away the rodeo's longstanding liquor license and drastically affects the status of the bull ride.

The board has consented to give the rodeo an intoxicating liquor license so it can sell strong beer, since 2006.

Township chairman Lowell Warne told Gilchrist Wednesday the board had two main concerns that caused them to pass the resolution in January.

First, the board wasn't sure that the Wrestling Boosters should be the group applying for the license because state statute says the sponsor needs to apply for it. Second, the board was concerned about liability coming back to them if there was an accident.

Gilchrist told the board that it didn't have to be too concerned about those issues.

The statute isn't clear about who needs to apply, he said. Also, the township board is simply consenting to the license. The county approves the license, he said.

As far as liability, Gilchrist said there is always a possibility of a lawsuit if someone gets drunk and hurt, for example. However, because the township board is simply consenting, it's further down the line and has less liability.

"I don't think there's much risk," he said.

Township supervisor David DeLaHunt asked if conditions could be added if the township decided to issue the intoxicating liquor license for strong beer.

Gilchrist said conditions could not be added. However, recommendations could be included on a cover letter, he said. That way, if the applicant didn't follow the recommendations and came back to the board the next year, there would be documentation.

Township supervisor Dacle Schmid Jr. said he was concerned that by passing the resolution in January the board was stopping a business from operating. He had heard from constituents that want to keep the rodeo here.

"I don't see us saying we want to keep alcohol out of Henrietta Township," Schmid said. "They have done a good job for the last few years. We were just concerned about liability."

The board had the right to pass the resolution in January, Gilchrist said. The board can also repeal the resolution, though, if members felt the initial reasons it was passed were no longer there, he added.

The board decided that Gilchrist's advice about liability alleviated much of the concern. It voted to repeal the resolution from January.

The vote passed 3-1 with supervisor Sharon Koskela voting no. Supervisor Russell Johnsrud was not present at the meeting.

Koskela said she was still concerned about underage drinking. She had talked to the sheriff and heard there were still some issues, she said.

The board also decided to have Gilchrist draft two letters. One would be an application for strong beer under the intoxicating liquor license and the other for 3:2 beer. When someone applies for the stronger license, a letter will be attached that has recommendations.

Some examples of recommendations include sufficient law enforcement, proper training for servers and measures taken to alleviate underage drinking, such as wrist bands.

Rodeo organizers and the Wrestling Boosters can apply for a strong beer license at the May 13 township board meeting.

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