Alcohol server training law may return to Oak Creek |

Alcohol server training law may return to Oak Creek

Oak Creek seeks to re-establish law requiring handlers to complete TIPS

Melinda Dudley

— The Oak Creek Town Board is working to mandate alcohol server training again for bars and restaurants in town, re-establishing a law that it struck down several years ago.

At its meeting Thursday, the Town Board directed its attorney to draft an ordinance requiring alcohol servers to complete the Training for Intervention Procedures course, and be recertified every three years. The board will have to vote to approve the ordinance at a future meeting and undergo a 30-day waiting period before the law would go into effect.

In a four-hour TIPS class, attendees are briefed on properly checking identification cards, recognizing signs of intoxication and dealing with intoxicated patrons, said Mayor J. Elliott, who also is co-owner of the Colorado Bar.

“It’s just kind of a familiarization. It’s especially useful for new people who haven’t been in the business,” Elliott said.

“It’s not a bad idea,” said Doug Diamond, co-owner of Black Mountain Tavern. “The only problems with TIPS is, it’s an inconvenience. You have to still run your business while you find the time to get everyone trained.”

Diamond also speculated that the TIPS training has become an issue now in the absence of police in Oak Creek, and that the Town Board is trying to foster an attitude toward responsible consumption.

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For many years, alcohol server training was required in Oak Creek. In the 1990s, the Town Board – acting as Oak Creek’s liquor license authority -practically required current TIPS certifications when considering license renewals, Trustee Gerry Greenwood said.

That changed in January 2006, under the mayoral administration of Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman. The Town Board decided it was the responsibility of business owners, not the town, to ensure servers are trained properly, and it rescinded relevant portions of Oak Creek’s municipal code.

The current Town Board trustees had expressed interest in getting the law back on the books, and they chose to move ahead now, as the town is poised to recodify its municipal code next year, Elliott said.

There is no state law requiring people who sell or serve alcohol to complete a training course such as TIPS, though many municipalities have enacted their own laws.

The city of Steamboat Springs requires people who serve alcohol as part of their jobs, including bartenders and liquor store clerks, to participate in an alcohol training course within two months of beginning employment, according to the city’s municipal code. There was a three-year recertification clause in Steamboat’s original ordinance, passed in 1988, though the requirement was deleted in 1999 after Steamboat Springs Restaurant Association members argued it was not beneficial.

The Oak Creek Town Board opted to add a three-year recertification re-quirement to its pending ordinance after discussions at its meeting Thursday.

Though Elliott acknowledged new servers may benefit from TIPS or similar training, he questioned whether bartenders who have been at it for decades would benefit much from recertification.

“Most of the people down here in Oak Creek have been doing it for years. It’s not going to be that helpful to the old-timers,” Elliott said.

With only a few liquor-serving establishments, Oak Creek’s bartenders already have a network going in which they call one another if they cut someone off, particularly out-of-towners whom the servers may not know, Diamond said.

“If they get cut off at one place, they’re not going to get served anywhere in town,” Diamond said.