Adams Suspends Liquor Store's License for Three Days

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Selectmen handed a three-day suspension to Val's Variety.

ADAMS, Mass. — For now on, Val's Pipe and Package is carding everyone trying to buy alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets.

The variety store failed its third compliance check in four years on Nov. 9. In the compliance check, performed with the Police and Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's NB21 program, two 18-year-old women purchased alcohol from the store.

Owner Victor Lampiasi told the Board of Selectmen, acting as the licensing authority, on Wednesday that he is implementing a policy to ask for identification on all alcohol, tobacco and lottery sales. The move is exactly what a subcommittee wanted to require the store to do.

"They will all be IDing, myself included. From now on there will be no sale of alcohol without ID. There will be no sale of tobacco or lottery tickets without ID," Lampiasi said, later adding he will be monitoring the surveillance cameras and any employee caught not asking for ID would be fired.

"We, as a business, do understand that we have made a judgment in error. We're embarrassed," he said.

Lampiasi also presented the board with signs outlining the policy that will be placed at both doors and another sign he will hang by the register to remind the employees.

He said the individual who sold the alcohol during the compliance check has been employed for four years and has passed stings before. Lampiasi said he can't explain what happened that particular night.

The Selectmen liked his plans but also added a three-day suspension, which will be served on Tuesday, Jan. 1, Wednesday, Jan. 2, and Thursday, Jan. 3. Additionally, board members want Liampiasi to return in six months to ensure his plans have been implemented and are working.

But the punishment was first debated by selectmen, who offered differing opinions. Selectman Michael Ouellette called for a five-day suspension per the guidelines set forth in 2011. The board had embarked on establishing guidelines for violations after six establishments failed. That policy calls for a five-day suspension for the third offense.

However, Val's first and second offenses were in 2009 and 2010, prior to that policy.

"I really want to be consistent," Ouellette said. "I really think we need to establish the guidelines and stick to them."

Selectman John Duval, who was part of a subcommittee making the recommendation of a three-day suspension but not part of the board during the creation of the guidelines, agreed in sticking to policy, so there should be no debate over circumstances.

Duval and Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington disagreed on having Lampiasi return to the board after six months. Duval said he wants to see a plan to solve the problem and wants to follow up to make sure it is working. Harrington, however, said that would be "micromanaging" the business and that it is easy to tell if isn't being implemented.

"He needs to know it is a concern of the Selectmen," Duval said.

Val's becomes the second suspended license in 2012 with Bascom Lodge being handed a 20-day suspension for operating without a license. Bascom Lodge's first license offense was considered worse because the manager knowingly sold wine at a wedding there before the permit had gone into effect. That permit was delayed by state inspections.

In other business, the board approved entering formal lease negotiations with Ooma Tesoro's for the Memorial Middle School. The Youth Center is also looking to enter negotiations for a separate part of the building but Town Administrator Jonathan Butler said the town had additional questions about its proposal.

Tags: alcohol license,   alcohol violation,   license suspension,   licensing board,   

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