Citizens show concern over failed compliance checks

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 14, 2002

A little more than a month ago, the Mower County Chemical Health Coalition conducted alcohol compliance checks to see how many businesses would sell such products to minors and the results were somewhat disturbing.

Only 17 of the 30 businesses -- or 57 percent -- passed the checks.

For Kirstin Lindbloom of the Parenting Resource Center and the coordinator for the MCCHC, those numbers were simply unacceptable, especially when the state's average failure rate is 18 to 20 percent.

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In search of ways to solve the problem, Lindbloom gathered community members for a meeting Friday afternoon to discuss and explore solutions.

One possible solution that was presented was to seek out a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division to conduct compliance checks and provide education for vendors.

Brian Kringen, a law enforcement liaison officer, discussed the grant program. According to Kringen, the agency has granted funding for the compliance checks for the past three years and each year, the failure rate has dropped.

The first year, 56 law enforcement agencies were granted money and their first round of compliance checks had a failure rate of 19.2 percent, while the second round had a 16.1 percent failure rate.

The next year, 60 agencies were given funds and though 14.1 percent of the businesses failed the first check, only 11.6 percent failed the second one.

In 2001-02, 46 agencies received money and 9.1 percent failed the first round while 9 percent failed the second.

"I'm appalled by these statistics," said Mickey Jorgenson, 2nd Ward council member, adding the discrepancy between the Department of Public Safety's figures and those from the compliance checks in Austin was ridiculous.

Lea Oelfke agreed and echoed the sentiments of everyone else who attended the meeting when she said, "As a community, we can do something. We need to do something."

Lindbloom and Jorgenson agreed. Jorgenson is chair of the Community Relations Committee of the Austin City Council and plans to set a meeting with Lindbloom and other concerned members of the community.

Lindbloom was pleased with the meeting. "It felt very good to me. There were a lot of people with passion for the safety of our kids. It was the first step in making a difference."

The meeting also was an opportunity for the MCCHC to recognize the businesses which did pass the compliance checks. Those that were awarded the MCCHC's "We Value Our Youth" award were: Apollo Liquor, Austin Liquor, Bell Liquor, The Beer Depot, Bobby Jo's, The Brown Derby, Charlie's, Diamond Dave's, El Mariachi, Margaritaville, Paradise, Piggy Blues, Regal Liquor, Smitty's Tavern, Steve's Pizza, Tolly's Time Out and Torge's Grille.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at