Updated: Council approves 2 a.m. bar serving time

I promise this is my last blog update for today. I just wanted to include a link to the full article I wrote on tonight’s council decision to allow for a 2 a.m. bar closing time.

Readers will notice that the council did, kind of, end up discussing the 2 a.m. issue. Councilors did not state their positions prior to making their votes, but three councilors later discussed their opinions of the issue right before the council adjourned.

Personally, I would have rather seen councilors state their positions at the time at which they cast their votes – while members of the public were still in the audience – but I did appreciate the comments from Barb, Jerry and Greg (and the mayor, too, although he did not specifically address the 2 a.m. bar closing time).

So that’s enough for one day. Maybe tomorrow there will be more to say.

Live blog from council meeting: Council approves 2 a.m. bar serving time

The council has voted 4-3 to allows city bars the option of serving alcohol one hour later.

No discussion was held.

Bars that choose to obtain a state permit will be able to serve alcohol one hour later, until 2 a.m., once the ordinance takes effect.

Voting in favor of the change were Councilors Jerry Downs, Ron Johnson, Greg Negard and Kevin Waldhausen. Opposed were Mayor Richard Lehmann and Councilor Roger Hellquist and Barb Meuers.

My full article will be posted online at www.bemidjipioneer.com and will be in Tuesday’s Pioneer.

More to come.

A 2 a.m. question answered

What if Bemidji does vote to extend liquor hours? And then what happens if Beltrami County then votes to prohibit alcohol sales after 1 a.m.? Does one take precedence over the other?

This has been nagging at me all day. Well, actually, since Sunday.

I was going to just wait until tonight’s council meeting, but after discussing it with a few conversations with people smarter than myself, I decided to find out for certain.

This is what I learned: If the city approves the 2 a.m. bar time and if Beltrami County, after going through its ordinance process, votes to prohibit alcohol sales at county bars after 1 a.m., both ordinances would be in effect. The Beltrami County ordinance would not overrule the city ordinance, so a city bar could remain open until 2 a.m. while a county bar would not.

Again, though, that is based on two relatively large ifs.

Stay tuned.

It’s amazing what you can learn when you read the newspaper…

I don’t often read newspapers on weekends. I kind of take a news break for two days. But on Sunday, my family was going to, finally, finish all of our Christmas shopping. So I opened the Pioneer with the intention of just going through the advertisements and coupons.

But my eye was drawn to this story on the front page, the article I wrote on the retiring three city councilors. I saw that we had run with the story an older photo of Barb Meuers, when I asked specifically last week if we had something more recent, so I was a little perplexed to see the photo that ran.

And, as it happens, when I take one quick glance at the front page, I want to see all of the stories. So I flipped open the whole front page and saw this headline, below the fold: “Beltrami County considers 1 a.m. closing for bars.”

Um, what?

So our shopping excursion was delayed a bit longer as I read the story, written by Brad Swenson, who covers the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners, about a possible Beltrami County ordinance that would prohibit bars in the county from selling alcohol after 1 a.m.

If approved, the county’s ordinance could possibly conflict with the city of Bemidji’s alcohol ordinance. As most of my blog readers know, the city tonight is expected to hold the final reading and vote on an ordinance revision that would allow city bars the option of serving alcohol later, until 2 a.m.

Does that change anything for tonight? I don’t know. But I’m interested to hear if the council addresses it at all.