Screems gets another six months probation
SILVERTHORNE – Screems bar avoided a punitive closure Wednesday when the Silverthorne Council voted to give the bar a second six-month term of probation.
The council’s decision followed a four-hour hearing on a Dec. 26 violation at the bar, during which a bartender served a customer who was underage and visibly intoxicated.
Last summer, council members ordered Screems closed for five days and put the bar on six months of probation for a series of violations that ran the gamut from serving underage patrons to bar fights. Then, the council decreed that if another violation occurred within those six months, the bar’s license would automatically be yanked for 14 days.
The Dec. 26 violation occurred exactly six months after the initial probationary period was set.
Council members agreed Wednesday not to enact the 14-day shutdown because the timing was ironically close to the probation’s expiration and because the bar apparently had cleaned up its act.
But their decision didn’t please anyone.
Bar owner Shelly Surles felt it was too harsh.
“I was hoping nothing would be done,” she said. “I felt there should not have been any punishment at all because we haven’t had anything happen in there for over a year. Being on probation, any little thing that goes wrong can get me into trouble again. Everybody has to be on their best behavior. Sometimes you just can’t control human behavior. In that sense, it’s hard.
“I don’t like being watched all the time, but at least we didn’t get any closure (of the business). At least they realized we have been good, and rewarded us for that.”
The new probation period started Thursday and runs through Nov. 9.
Bev Gmerek, prevention coordinator for the Summit Prevention Alliance, said she was hoping for a sterner penalty.
“I think they should have imposed that 14-day suspension because they said they were going to and because it’s a pattern of behavior,” she said. “Having a liquor license is a privilege. With that privelige, you have to serve alcohol responsibly. Screems has proven time and time again that they are not interested in serving alcohol in a responsible manner.
“The actions (Wednesday) did not set the correct standard in our community. We need to be encouraging more responsible alcohol service, not giving people leeway to serve underage and intoxicated people. I think the Silverthorne Police Department is to be commended for intercepting that young man that night and keeping him off the streets where he could have very easily killed somebody.”
Police Chief John Patterson also had recommended some disciplinary measures be taken.
“This incident is fairly flagrant,” he said. “I think they should be put on notice that it’s not acceptable behavior in Silverthorne.”
The vote supporting the new probationary period was far from unanimous. The new council had its first tie on the issue, when Councilmembers Sheila Groneman, Steve Swanson and Peggy Long voted for it; Howard Hallman, Dave Koop and Fran Penner Ray were against the six-month probation. Mayor Lou DelPiccolo broke the tie, voting for the probation.
“I was not a happy tie-breaker,” he said Thursday. “But I felt we had spent far too much time dealing with things that were irrelevant. Any other results would have been less than what had been decreed (14 days), so anything less than that would have been a weakening of the situation. To engage in more debate about whether it was going to be two, three or five days suspension – anything less than the 14 – was not very constructive.”
Screems, formerly Virgin Islands Lounge, is located near Subway in the Summit Place Shopping Center.
Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at email@example.com
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