City council agrees to reissue liquor license conditionally
By Robert Williams
The Heart O’Lakes VFW Post 7702 is conditionally set to reopen on Monday, May 2, according to discussions at the Frazee City Council meeting on Monday, April 18.
The VFW had its liquor license suspended by the Frazee City Council, after it was suspended by the Department of Public Safety Director Carla Cincotta for failure to pay its taxes.
The reopening of the establishment and the reissuing of its liquor license are dependent on the VFW paying missed tax payments and any fees to the state.
VFW Commander Paul Lakin used the open forum to address the council. Lakin announced a bank loan is scheduled to be approved Friday, April 22, to cover its taxes and other monies owed with the funds to be dispersed Monday, April 25.
Lakin also announced his resignation effective May 1.
Incoming Commander Robert Clarey was in attendance and also addressed the council
“Once we have our debt taken care of we do have enough in the loan to open up with a good buffer. We’re sitting good as far as financials.”Robert Clarey, incoming Frazee VFW commander
New officers are being installed at the VFW monthly meeting as the club resets its leadership board.
According to Clarey, interim staff will be hired to work the bar with members of the Post, including a new bar committee and himself, monitoring transactions into the near future, rather than hire a general manager immediately.
A lengthy discussion was had between all board members and VFW representatives around the approval to reissue the liquor license and also to address the responsibility of the violations that occurred, and potentially others, leading to the bar being shut down. Those violations are still part of an ongoing legal investigation by law enforcement.
“What’s going to stop that from happening again?” asked council member Mark Kemper.
“We have addressed our internal problems,” Clarey said. “That’s why we’re going to have a whole new staff at the top. There were people at the top that shirked their responsibilities. If all our rules that the VFW has in place would have been followed this wouldn’t have gotten to where it is today. It should have been stopped.”
Council member Nicole Strand made a motion to allow the VFW to open on May 2 with the understanding that the bills are paid, proof of taxes paid to the state is shown to the city, with another meeting with the council in the first 30 days of operation and a follow-up meeting in the next 60 days.
“I do feel we need to have a discussion with them, but I don’t think having a discussion with them should hold up their ability to reopen when they were able to give us their plan,” said Strand.
Frazee Police Chief Tyler Trieglaff brought up the issue of if the VFW is legally considered and being run as a club or a bar. He also asked about what happens when police issues arise in the future and inquired on what actual penalties have been issued against the VFW.
“Essentially, there’s no penalty for them. There has not been any penalty issued. The state revoked their license for three days. You revoked their license, but they’re not serving any penalty. What penalty is the city imposing on them?”Tyler Trieglaff, Frazee Police Chief
Strand’s motion passed with only Kemper opposing.
Kemper reiterated a need for more immediate oversight on all functions of the club upon reissuance of the license.
“I want them to open, but I want them to know we’re not going to let stuff keep sliding like we have for the last how many years?” he said. “And it’s been sliding for the past 20 years.”
Council member Mark Flemmer noted these and other concerns are why the two follow-up meetings are being scheduled as part of the motion.
The VFW liquor license has been suspended since the last city council meeting in mid-March and the establishment has remained closed since that time.