BY SUE WEBBER
Three Maple Grove establishments are each facing a $2,000 fine and a two-day liquor license suspension for selling alcohol to a minor.
They are Angeno’s Pizza/Pasta, Noodles & Company, and Princeton’s Liquors. The violations occurred Oct. 11, while the Maple Grove Police Department was conducting alcohol compliance checks.
Representatives from the three establishments were invited to appear at the Nov. 4 Maple Grove City Council meeting. The council directed the city attorney to prepare findings of fact to support the fines and suspensions. Action on the attorney’s conclusions is expected at the Nov. 18 City Council meeting.
City Administrator Al Madsen said the staff will work with managers at each of the three shops to decide on the dates they will be prohibited from selling liquor. All three establishments had sent at least one staff member to the city’s Alcohol Compliance Training, Madsen said.
“Every time we’ve had a problem, it’s been a young gal under 21 who hasn’t attended the class,” said Jeff Deelstra, co-owner of Angeno’s.
The employee who sold liquor to a minor had been working at Angeno’s for a month, he said. The night the violation occurred, the restaurant was short-staffed and busy, and the employee was asked to do more than she was ready to handle, Deelstra said.
A representative of Noodles & Company called the city offices to say they were not happy with their violation, are sorry that it happened, and are working so that it won’t happen again, according to Madsen.
Joel Princeton, owner and operator of Princeton’s Liquors for the last 33 years, said, “No one wants to sell to a minor or fail a sting operation. There is no excuse for this.”
Selling to a minor [at Princeton’s Liquors] is grounds for an employee’s dismissal, he said, adding that the employee who committed the violation “has been let go.”
“We did fail the sting operation and we take it very seriously,” Princeton said. “We do not want it to happen again. We now use an ID scanning device at our tills.”
Mayor Mark Steffenson said, “We’ve heard the same excuses forever. People didn’t read; they didn’t look; they didn’t think. It’s unfortunate, but you are suffering the consequences.”
Because Princeton’s Liquors violation was its second within a three-year period, city staff recommended a five-day suspension and a $2,000 fine.
In making the motion to impose the fine and suspension, Councilmember Karen Jaeger said, “I do this with a heavy heart. You’ve done a lot for the community; you are wonderful people. I’m one of your customers.”
That motion died for lack of a second.
She then moved that the suspension be for two days, and the motion was approved.
“Thank you very much,” Princeton said, adding that he hoped he would never again have to appear before the council on a liquor violation.
The city’s three recently crowned ambassadors – Alexa Castonguay, Libby Wanner and Anna Worel – appeared before the Council. The 14th annual Maple Grove Ambassador Program’s coronation took place during Maple Grove Days.
Alex Steinman, director of the program, told the council it has had “a phenomenal year.”
“We’re recruiting a lot at the high school and are excited to see what kind of a turnout we can get,” Steinman said.
She said the program has given more than $100,000 in scholarships, and is going to host its first golf tournament fundraiser in 2014.
Anna Worel, a freshman at Augsburg College, said the program has given her confidence, public speaking skills and a chance to give back to the community. “It’s been an eye-opening experience,” she said.
Libby Wanner said the ambassadors have appeared at many events in the community and around the Twin Cities area, including the city’s Lions breakfast, the Anoka Orange Tie Ball, and Northfield’s Jesse James Day parade. “We’re here to be goodwill ambassadors,” she said.
Alexa Castonguay said the three ambassadors are looking forward to the Breakfast with Santa Event, the Polar Plunge, and the June 22, 2014 golf tournament at the Rush Creek Golf Course.
American Water Works
Mark Nelson, Maple Grove’s Public Works Utilities supervisor, was presented with the 2013 American Water Works Association – Minnesota Section’s “Operator Meritorious Award.”
The award was presented by Bert Tracy, past chair of the AWWA Minnesota Section, and Uma Vempati, secretary/treasurer of the AWWA.
“This award recognizes operators who demonstrate professional excellence, commitment to the water utility industry and dedication to quality service,” said Ken Ashfeld, Maple Grove’s city engineer and director of Public Works.
Tracy said Nelson has been described as a “dedicated, hands-on person who enjoys teaching new employees and displays respect and professionalism” in his job, and who is important to Maple Grove’s water treatment plant.
“This is no small feat,” Ashfeld said. He noted that Maple Grove treats 30 million gallons of water each day.