Adams Liquor Store Fails Third Compliance Check

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Two Selectmen and the town administrator met with police on Wednesday to discuss the violation.

ADAMS, Mass. — The License Commission is looking to force a local liquor store to card anyone purchasing booze after failing its third compliance check in four years.

Val's Variety on Columbia Street allegedly sold alcohol to two 18-year-old girls on Nov. 9 during a compliance check by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's NB21 program, according to police.

The checks are done for "educational value," according to police but as the license granting authority, the town routinely punishes the license holders for violations. The Board of Selectmen operate as the License Commission.

Two commissioners and Town Administrator Jonathan Butler met with police on Wednesday. They are recommending a three-day suspension of alcohol sales, that every employee be retrained and require Val's ask for identification from everyone purchasing alcohol there.

However, those requirements need to be reviewed first by attorneys to see if the town legally has the ability to impose punishments in excess of state law.

"I don't know if you have the authority to require action inside the establishment that is above state law," Butler said.

Based on guidelines the Selectmen adopted last year, the penalty for a third offense is suggested to be a five-day suspension. However, Val's had failed the checks in 2009 and 2010, prior to the new and stricter guidelines.

"We want to stay as close to the guidelines as possible," Selectman Arthur "Skip" Harrington said but added that the board can take circumstances into account.

Butler added that the guidelines are great going forward but last time Val's failed, the town had sent a letter saying its next violation would incur a two-day suspension. There should be some flexibility with those who operated under the old rules, he said.

According to Butler, in the first instance, the board forced the employees to go through Training for Intervention Procedures, or TIPs, and on the second occasion, it handed down a one-day suspension. Police added that on each occasion it was the same employee who failed and that employee was later fired.

Selectman John Duval said he would like to see a plan of action so that it doesn't happen again. But he added that without the store owner's side of the story, the punishment recommendation should be flexible.

"I want to listen to the owner. I want to hear his side," Duval said.

A public show-cause hearing is expected to be scheduled shortly before a ruling is made.

Tags: alcohol license,   alcohol violation,   

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