Lamar City Council Holds a TiPS-y Discussion

Lamar City Council

Lamar City Council

The standard question for the past several years now, that has been asked of applicants for special events permits from the Lamar City Council is, “Are you or are any of your staff TiPS trained?” The question was first introduced several years ago for the annual Lamar Chamber Oktoberfest and the associated beer garden. Now, the Lamar City Council is wondering if it should be a prerequisite for granting a liquor license transfer or renewal.

TiPS stands for Training for Intervention Procedures and is a certification program that means a graduate has received enough information to make a determination if a patron is of legal drinking age or has reached the point where they should no longer be served alcohol. It is not a legal requirement by City of Lamar ordinances, but it is a basic standard by which events have been judged and its future use was discussed at length during the Lamar City Council meeting this past Monday, August 10.

The matter was discussed briefly after the council unanimously approved the transfer of ownership of A and B Liquor from the Adame family to the new owner, Chris Currell. Currell said he did not have TiPS training and wasn’t completely sure how many of his employees had received it either, but would see about taking the course. Discussion continued in depth when Lamar Police Chief, Kyle Miller and Officer Todd Cope, who is certified to teach the TiPS class, asked for direction from the council if the three year certification was required.

Chief Miller asked if the council would like the course to be continued. “We would probably do one course a month for off premise and on premise and for a special event for, say, a chamber event,” he explained. The officers suggested that everyone should take the course. The council weighed some of the ramifications of universal certification in the city, in light of employee turnover at some establishments that serve liquor. Councilwoman Bev Haggard stated, “It would be hard for an employer to pay $20 every time someone hired needed to take be certified whether they were a bartender or just a waitress.” Councilwoman Gerry Jenkins said that would be the best solution, making sure everyone who served the public was trained in that regard. Haggard responded that then, Wal mart would have to make sure that everyone who checked out a six-pack at the register would also have to be certified.

She said that would also mean that if you make it for one, you make it for everyone, including clerks at Loaf and Jug or Loves. “That’s what we’re trying to determine from the council,” added Chief Miller.

Officer Cope explained one added value to having TiPS trained employees should a lawsuit result from an accident, “A business could be sued for millions of dollars. If you’re paying $20 to keep yourself covered, they can cover you when you go to court, but you’re taking a chance if you’re not.” The TiPS program will testify on your behalf if you are certified and have gone through the course. It shows that you are acting responsibly, Miller and Cope explained to the council.

Haggard then asked if the council needed to create an ordinance for certification training, even if the state didn’t require the training leading to a special events permit or owning a liquor establishment or working in one? City Clerk, Linda Williams offered, “I don’t believe so, what we’re asking is for direction from the council to say yes, whether he council wants everyone to be certified prior to allowing a license?”

Doug Thrall, local business owner, said it’s in his best interests to make sure the Cow Palace is covered for liability issues and his insurance company recommends the certification as a way to minimize his risks. “We want to be informed enough to take care of our own concerns without being mandated by Uncle Sam to tell us what needs to be done,” he offered. He added, “I’d rather be forced to do this from the insurance side, because that’s where the money is, not from a mandate.”

Cope said he could be flexible in his class scheduling to allow for timeliness, as opposed to making sure that there be at least eight students in each of his courses.   Williams offered another scenario for the council’s consideration, asking, “If we have a business that has a clean record, no violations or problems at all with alcohol serving issues, but they have no certified employees, do we still allow them to have a license or special events permit?”

Williams said she would call other communities to see what their requirements are for certification and report back to the council. City attorney, Garth Nieschburg, was out of town during the meeting, but his input on the matter will be sought out by the council for guidance on creating an ordinance or some other legislation or wordage that would be included on future applications to the council.

By Russ Baldwin

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