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Abby denies alcohol license due to past drug offense

An Abbotsford man was denied the right to sell beer at a local gas station Monday by Abbotsford’s city council, whose members were divided over concerns about a minor drug offense on the man’s record from 2015.

The council came to 3-3 vote on a motion to grant an alcohol operator’s license to Kyle Puphal, 22, who indicated on his permit application that he had been convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia (marijuana) in November of 2015.

Mayor Lori Voss was forced to break the tie, and came down in favor of denying him the license. She said he should reapply after a little more time has passed.

“If it were five years ago, I’d say yes,” she said.

Ald. Mason Rachu made a motion to approve the license, saying the denial could prevent him from being hired at the Holiday gas station where he applied.

“I want the guy to have a job,” he said.

Ald. Dennis Kramer seconded Rachu’s motion, and Ald. Lori Huther also voted in favor of it.

Voting against the motion were Alds. Roger Weideman, Frankie Soto and Jim Weix.

Weideman said he has heard concerns from constituents who don’t want people with drug offenses being able to sell alcohol.

“They want to keep the city clean,” he said.

Soto said he would vote against an alcohol license for anyone with a drug or drunk driving offense on their record. He said the location of the Holiday gas station along a high-traffic area in the city also worried him, especially with kids going into the store and potentially being exposed to drug activity.

“Those are the people who are going to push it off on our kids,” he said. “Don’t we have enough problems with our kids nowadays?”

Police chief Jason Bauer, however, had said he was OK with granting Puphal the license since the paraphernalia offense was from nearly five years ago, according to city administrator Dan Grady.

Possession of drug paraphernalia is “not a criminal offense and results only in a money penalty,” according to Wisconsin’s online court records.

Puphal, who was 17 at the time of the offense, has no other offenses on his record. He fully paid the $389 fine for the 2015 offense.

The council has taken similar actions in recent years to prevent with past offenses related to alcohol or drugs.

In September of 2019, the council denied an operator’s license to Chad Kilty because of a felony drunk driving (fourth offense) on his record.

Liquor license OK’d for new bar

A new bar will be opening up near the East Town Mall after the council approved the transfer of a Class B liquor license Monday night.

The retail license had been held for years by Chelt Development, owner of the mall, in case a bar or restaurant had wanted to move into one of its available spaces and sell alcoholic beverages.

Chelt Development also owns the former Hardee’s building across the parking lot and is leasing it to a family that plans to open a new establishment called Kambary Bar. Grady said the family plans to open it as a bar first and then add food once they are able to afford new kitchen equipment.

In order for the Class B license to be transferred to Kambary Bar, Grady said Chelt Development will need to forfeit it to the city first.

Last August, the council discussed the possibility of requiring the holders of Class B liquor licenses to be open for business for at least 120 days per year.

Grady said this would prevent current license holders from “sitting” on unused licenses and thereby preventing new businesses from applying for one.

Class B licenses, which are used by bars and restaurants, are limited by the city’s population.

_ During her mayoral comments, Voss said residents need to do a better job of clearing snow away from their mailboxes or they could get bent or broken by the city’s plows.

_ The council agreed to have another discussion about the definition of “salaried” city employees at its next meeting on Jan. 15. Voss said DPW Craig Stuttgen often has to work more than 60 hours a week when he’s covering for other employees or overseeing a street project.

Based on salaried employees she has talked to, Voss said many of them are additional given time off if they work behind a certain number of hours in a week, such as 48.

_ Also at the Jan. 15 meeting, the council will need to approve a resolution designating Ald. Mason Rachu as the city’s contact for a FEMA grant application the local school district is submitting for a storm shelter building that will double as a multi-use auditorium. Rachu is the district’s maintenance supervisor and will be able to report back to the council about the proposed building project.

_ Grady told the council that copper levels in the city’s wastewater effluent continue to be well below a future limit being set by the DNR. A simple change in the sampling method has resulted in consistently lower copper levels, negating the need for treatment upgrades.

_ The council tabled a proposed 75-cent raise for Lt. Alex Bowman at the Colby-Abbotsford Police Department until the city can get clarification on “longevity” pay mentioned by Colby’s city clerk.

_ The council approved the discontinuance of First Street north of Pine Street, which had been platted over a property that has buildings on it. Grady said the property owner will reimburse the city for $630 in legal expenses and also pay for a certified survey map.

_ The council approved a certified survey map for 500 N. Second St., which is owned by Ald. Rachu. He said he is buying 30 feet of his neighbor’s lot and wanted to clean up the property lines. Rachu abstained from the vote.

_ The council approved two contracts with Star Environmental of Marshfield, one for $5,000 to do wetland delineation in the city’s future industrial park west of STH 13, and another for $2,000 to do soil testing in the same area, as required by the Wisconsin DNR.

Grady said the city is planning to close soon on the purchase of a 25-acre parcel just west of the highway that will be made available for future development.

“We do have potential customers already,” he said.

_ The council approved a final pay request of $17,965 from Melvin Companies for road work done last year in the Sportsmen’s Addition. The council also approved a change order, acknowledging the project came in about $4,900 under the engineer’s original estimate.

_ The council approved a $59,670 pay request from Haas Sons for road work done on First Avenue last year. The company still needs to put in a second lift of asphalt in the spring and do site restoration before the project is closed out.

_ The council approved an ordinance, requested by the Clark County clerk, that exempts the city from having to get a treasurer’s bond related to the payment of taxes. The ordinance obligates the city to pay the county all applicable state and county taxes if the treasurer fails to do so.

_ The council approved a 1 percent administrative fee for local hotel owners to collect when charging room taxes to their guests. Krunal Patel, owner of all three local lodging establishments, requested the fee after the council raised the room tax from 3 to 6 percent.

The administrative fee is expected to generate about between $500 and $1,000 based on normal room tax collections.

_ The council approved a “picnic” license allowing the Abby-Colby Crossings Chamber of Commerce to sell beer at its annual banquet on Jan. 25. The city waived the license fee.