Beer Garden Still a Hot Topic, City Council Hearing Set for July 13

Prowers County Courthouse

Prowers County Courthouse

The Prowers County Commissioners were offering some different viewpoints regarding the approaching July 13th Lamar City Council public hearing for a special events permit allowing the Sand and Sage Roundup Fair Board to host a beer garden next month.

Discussion over the event, but not an official public hearing, was held in early June by the County Commissioners, who heard the proposal from Fair Board President Mark Carrigan as well as pros and cons from the audience.  A two to one vote gave permission to the fair board to use the property at the fairgrounds to host a beer tent for the first time.   Because the beer tent will be held within the boundaries of the City of Lamar at the fairgrounds, the Lamar City Council will hold a public hearing for the special event request and not the commissioners.

The matter was brought up following a statement from Commissioner Henry Schnabel during the July 7th meeting.  Schnabel cast the opposing vote at the June meeting.  He stated that the Lamar City Council should not have to bear the responsibility of holding the public hearing.  “That responsibility should be met by the citizens of Prowers County, and I appeal to you to revisit this issue and make that determination,” he told his commission members, Wendy Buxton-Andrade and Ron Cook.  Schnabel reiterated his belief that alcohol should not be served at 4-H events.  “I just think we’re making a bad decision here, by making this decision to have alcohol at the county fairgrounds.”

Schnabel said he was given information there would be a commissioner- held public hearing and the people he had spoken to about it were not able to attend to make their statements in opposition to the beer tent.  “They were not allowed the opportunity to attend a public hearing, so what you saw there was pretty much a one-sided event,” he stated.

Commissioner Cook explained that he was advised by the county attorney, John Lefferdink that the commissioners needed to make a decision on whether to allow the board to move forward on the permit.  Cook said, “He advised that we not have a public hearing on that.  They presented that appeal to the commissioners and we took prevalence to allow anyone to speak for or against on that date.”

The permit, if granted by the Council, will be good only for August of this year.  If it’s brought up for a vote of the people, the Commissioners were asked how that would play out.  Prowers County Clerk and Recorder, Jana Coen, explained that a November ballot would not be though a single citizen’s initiative.  “You, (the Commissioners) could be petitioned as a board and make a decision to allow or decline, but you would have to present the question for a ballot and the board would have to agree on the question.”

KVAY News Director, Scott Humphrey, asked each commissioner their prior campaign stance on beer at the fair, as it was referenced earlier in the discussion by Commissioner Schnabel.  Schnabel said he was flatly opposed to alcohol on any county property.  Cook stated his position was either a public hearing or a vote of the people on the matter, but, “I was under the impression that the county would have to issue the permit.”  Wendy Buxton-Andrade stated, “When I tried to speak about alcohol anywhere, Henry and Joe (Marble) literally told me where I would stand and that we would not have alcohol events and you have questioned it quite a few times.  I told them I wanted to see the evidence out there and let the people settle it.  I’ve never taken a hard line of either side.”  Schnabel took issue with Andrade, rejoining, “I never told anybody where to stand.”  “I beg to differ,” she replied.  Both Andrade and Schnabel said they have received a lot of feedback with each stating their separate positions, for the most part, have been reaffirmed by calls and statements from county residents.  The Lamar City Council meeting will begin at 7pm on Monday, July 13 and it’s expected the public hearing will be held as early as possible.

By Russ Baldwin

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