Hours extended for bars purchasing new license

Mindy Carls

Orion bars wishing to remain open an hour longer on certain nights may do so now, provided they purchase a newly created liquor license.

Village board members approved the license on Monday, June 1. Costing $1,000, it allows bars to remain open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and during special events.

Trustees Roger Peterson, Jamie Lawson and Mel Drucker voted in favor of the new license, and Trustee Robert “Deano” O’Leary voted against it.

Another trustee, Dale “Sarge” Stiles, owns Sarge’s Tavern. Because of the conflict of interest, he could not participate in the discussion and the vote. He left the room.

Dick Stiles, owner of Stooges’ Saloon, originally requested the extension of hours, Village President Jim Cooper said.

During discussion, Lawson asked how “special events” would be defined. He suggested the new license allow bars to remain open an extra hour every night.

Dick Stiles said he anticipated having only five or six events every year, including Mardi Gras, Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

O’Leary said if only five events were held every year, calling village hall for each event would not be a problem.

Village Clerk Lori Sampson pointed out that Stooges’ might have only five or six events, but Sarge’s or Woo Dog’s Pub and Grub might have 10.

It would be easier to write an ordinance that specified 2 a.m. every day, Village Attorney John Ames said.

O’Leary said bars did not need to be open longer. He did not need the extra time when he owned the former O’Leary’s, and he said police should monitor bars to be sure they are empty at 2 a.m.

Cooper noted village police officer Joe Femali was not in favor of extending the hours.

Bar owners are responsible for handling loud noise and fights, Lawson said. They will also have to make sure all customers are out of the bar when it closes.

As liquor commissioner, Cooper has the power to close bars that draw repeated complaints about noise and violence. He does not need to have anyone file civil or criminal complaints before he can act.

Cooper warned bar owners that he will not tolerate entertainers who show disrespect to police officers investigating noise complaints. 

Ames pointed out the closures cannot be arbitrary.

Because the new license costs $1,000, or twice what the current license for 1 a.m. closings is,

Cooper said bar owners would be more likely to police themselves because they have more money at stake.

O’Leary wanted to reduce the cost of the new license to $750. He said bar owners would find it hard to earn enough money to justify spending $1,000.

Lawson responded that the higher cost would be easy to make up with five or six bands a year.

In other business: 

• Cooper said he would investigate a drainage problem on Third Street, affecting both businesses and residences.

• Peterson, chairman of the recreation committee, reported that graffiti had been cleaned off playground equipment, and a basketball goal will be replaced at Central Park.